Broncos' Courtland Sutton aims for red zone jump

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Denver Broncos receiver Courtland Sutton knows where he needs to improve to make a Year 2 leap in 2019: The red zone.

"Personally, in the red zone, I think I'm one of the biggest threats that (defensive backs) go against," Sutton said, via the Denver Post. "Every DB that I played against or will play against will probably say the same thing. They might not show it, but they know."

At 6-foot-3, with vice grips for hands and a proven ability to make contested catches, Sutton projects as a better red zone threat than his rookie numbers portend. During the 2018 campaign, Sutton saw just eight red zone targets, per Next Gen Stats, fewer than 80 other receivers. Of those eight targets, he caught two, both going for TDs. More than 170 players had more RZ catches than Sutton.

During his rookie season, Sutton caught 42 passes for 704 yards and four touchdowns, and did not have a 100-yard game in 16 appearances with nine starts. The wideout, however, displayed an acumen for making tough contested sideline catches, which should translate to more opportunities against tight coverage this season.

Playing with quarterback Joe Flacco in offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello's new scheme, Sutton figures to see his red zone targets boosted in his second season. If Emmanuel Sanders injury lingers, Sutton will enter the season as the Broncos' de facto No. 1 target, with fellow second-year wideout DaeSean Hamilton -- a slot receiver -- also looking like a candidate to make the leap in 2019.

Sutton believes Scangarello's offense will take better advantage of his skills this season.

"I'm definitely looking forward to capitalizing on (using my size) more this year," Sutton said.

Using that size in the red zone could help morph Sutton from an enticing rookie prospect to a primary playmaker in 2019.

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