The Denver Broncos couldn’t help themselves, after having added Carlos Henderson as an option at slot receiver and in the return game, they’ve dipped their toes back into the pool selecting another speedy return option in Georgia’s Isaiah McKenzie.
McKenzie is a diminutive receiver at 5-foot-7 and 173 pounds, making his fit in the WR corps unique. More than a true wideout, he’s a speedy offensive weapon who was used in that role with the Bulldogs as he scored seven receiving touchdowns, scored one on punt returns, and another two as a rusher. His biggest impact could be as a returner where he has six career scores, but put the ball in his hands in space and McKenzie can help your team as he’s a home run threat waiting to happen.
Here’s what we found when studying him on tape.
- McKenzie is a weapon who with the ball in his hands can create damage due to his elite quickness.
- In space on bubble screens or on returns, he has great vision, ankle breaking jump cuts and elite explosive speed that make him really dangerous.
- An elite athlete who tested off the charts at the NFL’s Combine. His 4.42 speed and 6.64 three-cone drill really stood out. That change of direction ability and long speed shows up on tape.
- He’s so elusive. He quickly leaves bigger players in the dust off the line of scrimmage or when isolated in space.
- Hard nosed player. Doesn’t shy away from contact will try to gain extra yards by wiggling his way out of tackles but doesn’t run away from contact. Will try to break tackles.
- Has some ability as a route runner and some nice hands.
- Can impact the game in a variety of ways, was versatile even as a returner used on both kickoffs and punts.
- Size limitations impact him as a receiver. He’ll struggle on contested catches or high balls. Gives quarterbacks a small window to throw to.
- Fairly limited experience as a receiver in college. Was used in a limited role and his route running needs to be better, though he shows lots of promise.
- As a runner, he struggles to break tackles. Is really small and will go down easily.
- Could struggle to beat press against better and bigger athletes in the NFL. Though he’s also really good at avoiding contact and beating his man at the line.
- Won’t ever have a full-time role in the league rather being more of a jack of all trades weapon. Will require a creative play caller to find him touches.
How he fits
McKenzie is a very intriguing talent who, with Henderson, should have fixed the Broncos returning problems. While Henderson’s mostly had experience as a kickoff returner, McKenzie has experience returning punts and kicks and is probably best as a punt returner. So Denver now has answers at both positions. He’s also a nice compliment to the receiver group that’s in place and could even be used in a scatback role. Primarily, he’s a speedy playmaker with the quickness to break big plays particularly on special teams where most of his value lies. However, in the right hands, this could be a really fun weapon for the Broncos offense that was a bit too vanilla in the past. McKenzie adds some much-needed spice to the group.