Presidential hopeful Barack Obama may wax poetically about the virtues of democracy next week at Invesco Field, but Broncos fans in attendance probably wouldn't mind being autocratically ruled.
Mile High monarch Eddie Royal could have Orange and Blue loyalists kissing his feet by year's end.
The second-round draft choice from VA Tech has rapidly ascended the Denver depth chart, entrenching his place as the Broncos' No. 2. His eyebrow-raising camp has translated into instant success in exhibition play. In two preseason contests he's snagged four passes for 80 yards, including two electrifying 30-plus yard bombs against Dallas August 16.
Royal's seamless transition from the collegiate to the pro game is rooted in his mental approach. Confident, highly intelligent and ultra-competitive, he isn't intimidated by the increased speed of the game or the pressure to produce.
The 5-foot-10, 182-pound receiver is similar to Washington's Santana Moss physically and athletically. Blessed with blazing 4.3-forty speed, he possesses a pull-away gear that can leave defenders in the dust. Royal can also gain adequate yards after contact and has shown acrobatic abilities adjusting to passes midair.
"The kid's amazing," Marshall said. "Honestly, when they first drafted him I was like, ‘Who is this guy? Why'd we get him?' And now I see. The guy's a playmaker. I'm glad I've got him on the other side."
"I didn't know he had those type of receiving skills," Cutler said. "I thought we drafted him a little bit more as a returner. I didn't really realize he could be our starting Z (flanker). He's a go-getter. He picked up the offense quick. He attacks the football. He's got great speed, gets in and out of cuts. He's fun in the huddle. He understands what we're doing."
Savvy fantasy players would tell you the learning curve for any rookie wideout is incredibly steep, which is true. In his inagural season, Calvin Johnson, who is arguably the most physically gifted receiver to enter the league since Randy Moss, only mustered 6.6 fantasy points per game (42nd among WRs) in a pass-heavy Mike Martz system. But Royal's smooth adjustment, raw talents and numerous projected targets could challenge rookie receiver conventionalities.
Because he's still an unpolished route runner, the former Hokie likely won't have an Anquan Boldin-like initial campaign. However, he'll definitely outperform his current 192.1 Mock Draft Central ADP.
Given Cutler's fondness for the youngster, the two could build an unbreakable rapport to start the season. With Marshall slated to sit the first 2-3 games, Royal could post appreciable WR3 totals in Weeks 2 (vs. SD) and 3 (vs. NO) - the Broncos face Oakland's dynamic duo of Nnamdi Asomugha and DeAngelo Hall Week 1.
For those who've already drafted, Royal, owned in 22 percent of Y! leagues, is smart money in 12-team leagues with deep benches.
Fearless Forecast: 52 receptions, 785 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns
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Image courtesy of AP