Why Virgil Green May Effectively Replace Julius Thomas

Julius Thomas is no longer a Bronco, but the team may not miss a beat with Virgil Green.

As our own Graham Barfield showed last week, tight ends can often thrive in a Peyton Manning-led offense. We saw Marcus Pollard post respectable numbers around the turn of the century, Dallas Clark accomplish two double-digit touchdown seasons, and even Jacob Tamme get in on the action in 2010.

Most recently, Julius Thomas was Manning's tight end stud, scoring 24 touchdowns in just 27 games played over the last two years.

Thomas, however, is now headed to Jacksonville. As a result, the Broncos are reportedly re-singing Virgil Green, who's mostly been used as a run-blocker, catching 23 passes in four years at the NFL level for Denver.

If you look at's Ian Rapoport's tweet about the matter, you'll find responses that aren't exactly positive surrounding this issue. One person called the move "trash", while one said that it was "irrelevant".

I'm much more optimistic.

We don't really have any data on Green at the NFL level, and his college numbers are certainly lacking, having caught just 72 balls in three years at Nevada. It's important to note, though, that Julius Thomas played just one year in college, catching just 29 passes for 453 yards and a pair of scores. Thomas was the classic basketball-to-football tight end coming out, and was drafted by Denver in the fourth round in 2011.

We all consider Thomas a freak because of his size and speed combination. He's large -- nearly 6'5'' and 250 pounds -- and he ran a 4.64 40-yard dash at the combine. That's allowed him to be a force at the NFL level.

Green is an unknown to many because of how he's been used in the Broncos' offense throughout his four-year career. But don't be fooled -- Virgil Green is a beast, too. In fact, his combine measurables are arguably better than Thomas'.

HeightWeight40-Yard DashBench RepsVerticalBroad3-Cone20-Yard Shuttle
Virgil Green6'4''249 lbs.4.642342.51306.94.4
Julius Thomas6'5''246 lbs.4.681635.51116.964.31

This isn't to say that Green will step right in and replicate a Julius Thomas stat line. But don't forget that Julius Thomas spent a couple of years in the NFL as an unknown to many as well before breaking out in 2013's opener against Baltimore.

Don't sleep on Virgil Green. Because I'm sure the Broncos aren't.