Luther Burden III

Getty University of MIssouri wide receiver Luther Burden III.

The Denver Broncos have what they hope will be a franchise quarterback in 2024 first-round pick Bo Nix. Over the next few years, they’re going to have to put some offensive weapons around him.

One of those weapons could come via the 2025 NFL draft, according to USA Today’s Curt Popejoy, who has the Broncos selecting Missouri wide receiver Luther Burden III in his latest 2025 mock draft.

Popejoy’s mock draft has the Carolina Panthers taking quarterback Carson Beck at No. 1 overall and the New England Patriots taking LSU offensive tackle Will Campbell at No. 2 overall.

Burden, 5-foot-11 and 208 pounds, already looks and plays like an NFL wide receiver — something Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz pointed out during an appearance on the College Gameday Podcast on June 5.

“The biggest comparable for me is probably (San Francisco 49ers wide receiver) Deebo Samuel,” Drinkwitz said. “I know it’s a lofty expectation but it’s just the ability he has with the ball in his hands. When we played Deebo (at South Carolina) in ’17, he returned the opening kickoff and had two other touchdowns in the game while I was at NC State. He basically beat us by himself. You watch the way the 49ers and (head coach) Kyle Shanahan use Deebo Samuel as a big slot receiver and in the backfield, I believe Luther has some of those same tendencies.”

Burden’s 2023 Highlight Reel is Something to Behold

If you want to know why Burden is widely considered the top NFL wide receiver prospect for 2025, just watch his 2023 highlight reel.

It’s an incredible 9-plus minutes of Burden, who was just the third consensus five-star recruit in program history, annihilating defenses as he finished with 86 receptions for 1,212 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns.

Burden was named All-SEC and Associated Press All-American as Missouri had its best season in a decade, going 11-2 and capping the season with a Cotton Bowl win over Ohio State. Burden had six games with over 100 receiving yards in 2023 and two more games with over 90 receiving yards.

Burden had a season-high 177 receiving yards on 10 catches in a 34-27 win over Memphis but his best game of the year may have been in a 30-27 win over Kansas State where he had 7 receptions for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Broncos: No 1,000-Yard Receivers Since 2019

The Broncos are in the midst of several types of streaks NFL teams want to avoid like the plague — no playoff appearances since 2016 and no 1,000-yard rushers or receivers since 2019.

Courtland Sutton led the Broncos with 59 receptions for 772 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2023 — he’s also the last receiver to have over 1,000 yards in a single season for the Broncos when he had 72 receptions for 1,112 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns and made his only Pro Bowl.

Sutton has been sitting out of offseason workouts in 2024 over a contract dispute but announced on June 6 he would attend minicamp.

The Broncos not only drafted Nix at quarterback in 2024, they also drafted his favorite wide receiver in fourth round with Troy Franklin. At Oregon, Franklin was a two-time All-Pac-12 selection and capped his career with 81 receptions, 1,383 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.

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