GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 01: Safety Darcel McBath #31 of the Denver Broncos returns an interception for 33 yard against the Arizona Cardinals during the second quarter of the preseason NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Broncos 26-7. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Probably my favorite position on the field, the "quarterback of the defense" is a position that will be getting a lot of attention over he next couple of years as it is revamped and hopefully returned to the glory that Broncos fans took for granted over the years.
Dawkins and Rahim Moore have the starting SS and FS spots pinned down, respectively. Barring injury there are rarely opportunities for backup safeties to make an impact during the regular season, but even Dawkins would readily admit that whoever earns a spot in the wings needs to be ready to play sooner than later. Ideally Denver will target at least 1 strong safety candidate and one free safety candidate (speed is the primary difference for players this young).
Projected Safety slots up for grabs: 3
- Kyle McCarthy: Kyle has had some issues in coverage throughout the preseason, but he has flashed significant potential as the strong safety backing up Dawkins, especially when helping man the box against the run, and when bringing the monsterblitz. Additionally he makes a lot of defensive backfield calls, no small thing. Projection: Makes the roster with the first backup strong safety slot.
- Quinton Carter: Carter got off to a slow start in the preseason but has really come on strong over the last two games. He has far more good plays than bad, plays very strong around the line of scrimmage and times his blitzes as well as McCarthy. He is solid against the pass and excellent against the run. Projection: Denver will carry 3 strong safeties, with Carter taking the next to last safety slot.
- Darcel McBath: His interception on an underthrown route and the ensuing return showed good agiliy and awareness, and may very well cement his spot as the 5th safety kept. We know how much Fox and Allen value the turnovers, but will these old school coaches be able to overlook McBath's glaring missed tackle on the next drive? Safety is a very difficult position with lots of thinking, instant reaction and no mercy for mistakes, but one area of a safety's game that is almost unforgivable is bad tackling. Projection: Close call, McBath makes the cut for the 5th and final safety slot.
- David Bruton: By far one of the best Special Teams players Denver has, Bruton played hard throughout the preseason, getting himself dinged twice with his aggressive play. One has to believe that it is a real close battle between him and his draftmate McBath, and Bruton once again gave no reason to count him out, with a solid, if unspectacular performance. But in such a competitive battle, with everyone around him making plays, Bruton needed to flash. Projection: Close call on cutdown day, but eventually cut. Outside shot Denver keeps 6 safeties, and one fewer corner on the 53.
So I have us with a 5 man Safety crew, 3 SS and 2 FS, to round out a 10 man defensive secondary on the 53. Dawkins and McCarthy at SS, Moore and McBath at FS, with Carter as the swing Safety. However, as I mentioned above, Denver may feel that they retain more productive talent by keeping all 6 Safeties while keeping one less CB. That wouldn't be a bad decision if they go that way.
But these are just my projections. Would you keep Bruton over McBath? And would you keep all 6 if possible?