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2013 Denver Broncos Training Camp Preview: Cornerbacks

Day four of our 2013 Denver Broncos training camp preview series with a deep dive into Denver's cornerbacks, who will look to improve on the 2012 NFL's third best pass defense.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie seen here intercepting Eli Manning in 2012, will anchor the Broncos cornerbacks in 2013.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie seen here intercepting Eli Manning in 2012, will anchor the Broncos cornerbacks in 2013.
Al Bello

Prior to the 2013 NFL Draft the player du jour for John Elway seemed to be 2012's fourth round draft pick Omar Bolden, then the Denver Broncos reached into the third round for Kayvon Webster. All of this after signing arguably the best available free agent corner in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Don't forget Chris Harris, 2012's 64th best player in the NFL and Mr. Turnover Tony Carter.

Denver was in fine shape even before Rodgers-Cromartie, Quentin Jammer and Webster came to town, which limits the burden on any of these newcomers to be great immediately. It's tempting to curse the secondary now by predicting immortality, but every 2012 player except Tracy Porter has returned. The only caveat in this whole equation doesn't even come from this group. It comes from the loss of Elvis Dumervil possibly allowing an extra second for a quarterback to make a decision.

The Players

Champ Bailey
Ht 6-0 Wt: 192
Age: 35 Exp: 15
Incoming Camp Status: Veteran starter

The likelihood of Champ Bailey switching to safety any time soon is about as high as Bailey lining up quarterback to run the run option out of the pistol on fourth and short. So get that out of your head, Champ is a top five corner in the league-- still.

The only evidence that needs to be provided is that the Broncos finished 2012 as the third best pass defense in the league. Sure you could bring up a playoff game and ignore the other 16 games in 2012, but that game was clearly an exception.

Camp outlook: Lost a step? I don't even know that I can agree with that, I think that the talent is there in this cornerbacks group to swap Bailey out if coaches felt that it was necessary. The team didn't do that though, Denver signed two quality guys in Jammer and Rodgers-Cromartie, but I would predict that Jammer will play safety more so than corner.

I think I am reading your thoughts and those thoughts are mentioning the Baltimore Ravens playoff game. Those thoughts want to type right now and tell me how Bailey had his lunch money stole several times against the Ravens. I don't think that is the case though, I (and John Elway) think that a missing safety is the case on at least two of those.

It's been said, but as corners get older, they get slower, but they make up for it in cunning and my money's on Demaryius Thomas keeping Champ young in camp.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Ht 6-2 Wt: 193
Age: 27 Exp: 6
Incoming Camp Status: Veteran starter

I'll take it from an expert, a man who calls Rodgers-Cromartie, 'The best athlete in the NFL,' or more specifically, "The best athlete I've gone against since I've played in the NFL." That expert is Larry Fitzgerald by the way.

What do you call a six-foot two, two hundred pound man that runs a 4.2 second 40 yard dash? I call him not getting beat by anyone on Baltimore's roster.

Camp outlook: Six foot two and rude as hell, ironic that he is facing Optimus Prime (Demaryius Thomas) throughout mini camp and OTA's (tell me someone got the Primus reference). Rodgers-Cromartie has put on weight, will be drawing Eric Decker and Thomas and is working alongside Champ Bailey and Chris Harris. It's sink or swim time for a talented athlete who is three seasons removed from his last Pro Bowl.

If all goes well he won't even be eligible for the Pro Bowl. If he takes advantage of everything around him, whoever ends up being the starter at right defensive end is going to owe Rodgers-Cromartie a new car for those extra sacks that defensive end is inevitably going to rack up.

Chris Harris
Ht 5-10 Wt: 199
Age: 24 Exp: 3
Incoming Camp Status: Nickle starter, no longer Broncos best kept secret

That is right friends, he's not a secret anymore. Harris has been all over the media this offseason, for all of the right reasons. Not just local media either, national media, he's a few good starts away from being the featured story before Denver plays national games. 'Chris Harris, from undrafted rookie to phenomenal triumph,' or something along those lines.

I am going to use this opportunity to once again throw credit where credit is due and say that Harris quick rise to stardom may not have been possible had he not been so close in proxy to Bailey.

Camp outlook: One of the best things about the Broncos signing Wes Welker in free agency is that Harris's youth will push Welker's expertise and vice-versa throughout the season. Behind Harris are a bunch of players that are even younger and very eager to push for a starting position. This will only serve to keep him young, hungry and eager.

One thing that to keep an eye on throughout camp given the swelling abundance of talent at corner, will be how Denver will disguise Harris as he rushes the quarterback. Harris you will remember had 2.5 sacks in 2012.

Quentin Jammer
Ht 6-0 Wt: 204
Age: 34 Exp: 12
Incoming Camp Status: Dime corner, safety utility, immediate fill-in at either starting corner

I am not entirely sure whether or not he should be included in the cornerback preview or the safeties preview. I am hoping that we include him in both.

Jammer is coming off one of his better seasons, regardless it looks like the front office want utility in their secondary. I'll cite both Jammer and rookie Kayvon Webster when I say that. Due to the fact that Elway has stated that both Jammer and Webster can play safety or corner or corner like a safety or however he wants to phrase it for upcoming interviews.

Camp outlook: Let's face it, the road in the AFC to the Super Bowl will at one point go through New England and if they figure out a way to replace Aaron Hernandez, then Jammer is Denver's immediate response to a phenom tight end.

What is most interesting about Jammer is that he is playing catfish at two positions. He's pushing to start at corner and safety. I wouldn't be surprised if he wins one by preseason Week Three. The other side of that coin is the Broncos are action packed at both positions and getting rid of the young guys isn't going to be an option.

Tony Carter
Ht 5-9 Wt: 175
Age: 27 Exp: 5
Incoming Camp Status: Dime corner, roster bubble

Carter was quite the breath of fresh air last season, after leaving much on the field in 2011. Another member of the long history of Broncos successful undrafted players club. Carter provided several incredible plays last season and deserves much of the credit for the week six win over the San Diego Chargers.

That being said, I have watched the Denver/Baltimore playoff game ad nauseum and Carter owes Rahim Moore more than an apology.

Camp outlook: I know that roster bubble is a bit harsh to place Tony Carter on, but with a 2012 fourth rounder and a 2013 third rounder breathing down your neck it is difficult to keep your spot on the team. Denver won't cut Bolden or Webster, so it would be Carter that would likely get the boot. Which would inevitably result in the Broncos facing him somewhere down the line and who wants to do that?

Carter's only hope is to make Jammer irrelevant as a corner in Denver. That would still mean that the Broncos would have to employ six corners on the 53 man roster and that's just not likely.

Omar Bolden
Ht 5-10 Wt: 195
Age: 24 Exp: 2
Incoming Camp Status: Dime corner, special gunner

Now the 2011 Arizona State Sun Devils finished the season 6-7, bad enough to get the great Dennis Erickson fired. Other than the fact that John Elway's son himself played for them at one point, I have no idea how so many of the '11 ASU players ended up on the Broncos.

Bolden has been boasted the entire offseason by Elway himself, to the point where I cannot decide if Elway is trying to convince us or himself of Bolden's worth. I guess we may have the answer with the Broncos dipping into the third round this season for Kayvon Webster.

Camp outlook: If either Bolden or Webster are the heir apparent to Bailey, that will need to be proven this season in training camp and the preseason. As you know by now the cornerback position for the Broncos is full of talent that Bolden can probably get away with red shirting one more season and making a name for himself on special teams.

I'd be pleasantly surprised to see much of anything out of Bolden in 2013.

Kayvon Webster
Ht 5-11 Wt: 198
Age: 22 Exp: R
Incoming Camp Status: Rookie cornerback

When Kayvon Webster was drafted in the third round this year there was a bit of surprise. It seemed that most teams had Webster somewhere below a third round grade, but immediately after the draft Elway and Matt Russell began singing his praises.

Most commonly Webster's cover ability, back peddling and physicality are mentioned as positives. He fits the trend for the larger corner that Denver has targeted lately.

Camp outlook: There is little pressure on Webster to do much of anything this early. However, if someone is going to push Tony Carter out of a roster spot it's Webster.

Hiding away Webster on the practice squad will not be an option (the same goes for Bolden), so he'll likely have an immediate role on special teams and possibly in the Broncos dime package.

Mario Butler
Ht 6-1 Wt: 187
Age: 24 Exp: 2
Incoming Camp Status: Roster bubble, practice squad hopeful

Butler was an undrafted rookie originally signed out of Georgia Tech by the Dallas Cowboys. He was signed to Denver's practice squad in late October 2012.

Camp outlook: Butler is a long shot to make the team in any way other than as a member of the practice squad, he did graduate from Georgia Tech with a degree in management though. He could possibly make a better living outside of football.

However, with his second season in the system, he could provide a preseason surprise.

Aaron Hester
Ht 6-1 Wt: 207
Age: 23 Exp: R
Incoming Camp Status: Rookie corner, practice squad hopeful

It is obligatory that I mention Aaron Hester is Devin Hester's cousin. Aaron is a long distance burner that was expecting to be drafted, raw in zone coverage, but large with a wide wingspan.

Camp outlook: Who better to torment the Broncos receivers throughout training camp? Where his talents lay initially are in run support, which make him an obvious special teams ace.