Broncos’ Greg Dulcich has breakout potential and hair hasn’t been cut 2020

Offseasons are all about focusing on the details: strength and conditioning, shampoo and conditioning, loose ends and split ends.

Once football season arrives, it’s all about putting the hard work into practice. Greg Dulcich rolls out of bed on game days; there’s no use devoting precious time to a haircare routine before putting on a helmet. The flow demands more attention during the summer months, anyway. Dulcich’s preferred pastime is a double-edged sword. Offseason details.

“I’m not too much of a traveler. I love going to the beach,” the Southern California native told The Post. “Just laying out and swimming in the ocean, that’s really nice. Body surfing a little bit.”

But …

“After the beach is brutal, because it gets all salty and dried out,” the Broncos’ second-year tight end continued. “You’ve gotta shampoo and condition double. It’s a tough time.”

Just as Dulcich devoted all that extra maintenance to his mane during the offseason — he generally doesn’t use product, “just conditioner, really” — he also zeroed in on ways he can make it through his second NFL season healthier than the first. The 23-year-old is a breakout candidate this fall under new coach Sean Payton, whose scheme could heavily benefit from a bulky, athletic route-runner like Dulcich in the slot.

But first, his body needs to last. Dulcich dealt with multiple hamstring injuries his rookie year, so his offseason focus while back home was hip mobility through a variety of stretching exercises. And while learning not to take the stretching process for granted, he also started learning a new system. An epiphany dawned on him.

“This offense has very high standards, because of the success they had (in New Orleans),” Dulcich said. “They know how this thing is supposed to go. So it’s kind of on us to, I guess, pick things up and understand exactly what they want.”

For him, that means emulating Jimmy Graham. Payton’s franchise tight end in New Orleans was a five-time Pro Bowler and a rarefied stat compiler for his position, still ranking top-10 all-time in receiving yards by a tight end. Payton has identified Dulcich as a potential “joker,” or multidimensional tight end, which carries the weight of expectation in both pass-catching and blocking.

“We want to be able to do everything,” Dulcich said.

He profiles best as a high-usage receiving threat, like Graham. If that’s the eventual, idealistic vision for Dulcich, what will it take? Dulcich caught 33 passes on 55 targets last season for 411 yards. He scored a pair of touchdowns. In five years with the Saints, Graham averaged 77 receptions, 950 yards and 10 touchdowns per season. Dulcich needs to double the shampoo and then some.

“A lot of the film we end up watching is Saints film,” Dulcich said. “The success that they’ve had in this offense obviously is off the charts. … In the tight end room, we watch all that stuff. You’ve gotta be able to obviously read coverages and understand defenses and know the soft spots in the zone (coverage) and also just fundamentally how to beat man.”

Those watching him in closest proximity trust Dulcich’s ability to handle all that cerebral responsibility. After all, the UCLA grad has climbed to NFL tight end status through hard work and physical development rather than obvious, immediate talent. He started college as a walk-on and ended as a third-round draft pick to Denver.

“He’s picked up the offense really well. He’s very talented athletically and he works his tail off,” fellow tight end Adam Trautman said. “It’s just about continuing to get it. Tight end is one of those positions where it takes a while to acclimate to in the NFL, especially depending on where you played (in college). I played at Dayton, so it takes a second, right? But he’s picked it up really well. He’s going to have a great year. He’s a hell of a player, and he’s just going to keep ascending.”

This is meant to be a critical year in Dulcich’s ascent. The buzz is increasing. So might the number of footballs thrown his direction by Russell Wilson. Dulcich’s strategy for maneuvering through that pressure is Payton-esque, because of course.

“Regardless, I’m going to go out and play as well as I can. Do what the team asks me to do,” he said. “I think you can’t get too caught up in, ‘Yeah, breakout year,’ and individual stuff.”

He’s busy dealing with humbling comments and suggestions from family members, anyway. Not about his football.

“My mom and my sister are always telling me to take better care of my hair,” Dulcich said. “Just take care of the split ends and all that stuff. I don’t know anything about that. I just let it grow.”

He hasn’t had a haircut since before the COVID-19 pandemic. The last one was February 2020, he estimates. Dulcich says he has no intention of cutting it soon. And if 2023 does happen to be a breakout year?

“Then you can’t get rid of it,” he said, grinning.

Payton’s top tight ends

Jimmy Graham is the gold standard for productive tight ends in Sean Payton’s offense, but he’s not the only one to thrive under the new Broncos coach. Here’s a look at the best seasons by a tight end in the Payton scheme:

PlayerYearReceptionsReceiving YardsTouchdowns
Jimmy Graham2011991,31011
Jimmy Graham2013861,21516
Jimmy Graham2012859829
Jimmy Graham20148588910
Ben Watson2015748256
Jared Cook2017437059
Colby Fleener2016506313
Jeremy Shockey2009485693


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