Virgil Green is Making Fans Forget Julius Thomas


Virgil Green had just one touchdown last year, in the final game of the season for the Denver Broncos. It was the first and only touchdown of his career. He’s been in the NFL for four years, and he has a grand total of 23 catches for 206 yards.

That’s like a game and a half for former tight end Julius Thomas, who came on as an unknown basketball player, exploded into one of the most productive and well-loved TEs in the business, and then had a tremendous fall from grace as he asked for a ton of money and Denver elected to let him go in free agency.

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Thomas was a guy who could score three touchdowns in a half. As a match-up, he was a nightmare for defenses. So, how is it that Virgil Green, with his lowly stats, is making fans forget what Thomas did?

He’s balling out. He led the team in the preseason game against the Seahawks, with five catches. He had 45 total yards and ended the first half on a high note, grabbing a touchdown pass over the top from Brock Osweiler.

In the four years previous, Green averaged 5.75 catches per season. He had almost that many in one game this year.

People have always spoken about Green’s potential. He’s not as fast as Thomas, and he’s always been bigger and stronger—though shorter—so he’s been thought of as a blocking tight end. Thomas got all of the route running and performed more like a wideout—but he couldn’t block. Still, with his massive size and athleticism, Green looks more like he fits the part, and he definitely fits more with the new, run-centered offense in Denver.

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If he can catch like he did against the Seahawks all year, he becomes a terrifying dual-threat TE who will be very, very hard to stop. He won’t be a liability when blocking, but he can break out and catch when needed—on the backside rollout passes, for instance—and add a level of complexity to the offense.

Plus, Denver is going to run more twin-TE sets this year. Owen Daniels will be on the other side. Combined with Green, they make a great pairing that can really give a defense fits.

In a lot of ways, Green is what fans always wished Thomas would be. They loved Thomas’ ability to run and catch, but they wished he had some upper body strength and power. He looked like he’d never spent more than a few minutes in the weight room and he was often hurt. Green is a physical beast, and he could explode onto the scene this year as a pass-catching threat—just like Thomas did a few years ago.

Next: Brock Osweiler Puts on a Great Performance