As we’ll do every week to get you ready for the upcoming game, our X Factor of the week. Sometimes it’s a player, unit, concept, or scheme. Our X Factor for tomorrow’s game against the Denver Broncos.
X Factor: CB Mike Hilton
Drew Lock’s favorite target Week One was rookie wideout Jerry Jeudy. With good reason. Jeudy was among the most exciting rookies in this class, the second receiver off the board only behind Oakland’s Henry Ruggs. Against the Titans Monday night, Jeudy soaked up eight targets. It wasn’t the world’s most efficient performance, only four catches and at least one ugly-looking drop, but you immediately got a sense of the thorn-in-your side he’ll be.
Jeudy is a fantastic route runner. Quick, explosive, with great feet and ability to create space at the breakpoint. In his first NFL game ever, he was already making cornerbacks look silly. Like this 21 yard catch in the fourth quarter.
That’s pretty special. And fun to watch. Unless you’re the one covering him.
Jeudy should log plenty of snaps in the slot tomorrow afternoon. That means Mike Hilton will be manning up against him. Hilton is a well-rounded cover corner, physical, aggressive, but he’ll have his hands full. He’ll have to match Jeudy’s quickness, not be fooled by head fakes and foot fires, and get him down in space whenever Jeudy catches the football. If top WR Courtland Sutton sits out again, Jeudy and TE Noah Fant will again be the team’s top two targets.
Hilton’s gotta shut Jeudy down. If he holds him in check, even though Jeudy is just a rookie, it’ll sure look good on Hilton’s resume when it comes time to cash in as a free agent this March.
While not guaranteed, you’d like to think the Steelers will contain Melvin Gordon and a Broncos’ run game missing Phillip Lindsay. Denver will have to win this one through the air. Take away Jeudy too and you leave them with very few weapons to work with.