A day-by-day Broncos player breakdown is something we've been doing since our days at BroncoTalk nearly a decade ago. This year the tradition continues as we look at the Denver Broncos roster heading into the 2015 season in our 90-in-90 series.
Name: Shaquil Barrett
Position: Outside Linebacker
Height: 6'2 Weight: 250
Age: 22 Experience: 2
College: Colorado State
The Denver Broncos have had their fair share of success finding gems in the late rounds of the NFL Draft and furthermore, striking gold when it comes to undrafted free agents. Despite having 12 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss as a junior at Colorado State, Barrett never heard his named called on Draft Day, but was quickly snagged by Denver and signed as an undrafted free agent. It was an underrated acquisition that has the possibility of paying big dividends for the Broncos in the immediate future.
In 2014, he spent a majority of his time on the practice squad, but was promoted to the active roster after ex-Bronco Quanterus Smith suffered an ACL injury late in the season. Though he never saw action after the fact, the second year pro has an opportunity in 2015 to show he has what it takes to play in the NFL. In my eyes, Barrett is a player to watch and has been flying under the radar for quite sometime now. He has a great skill set and has the potential to be another fearsome pass rusher for the franchise. Let's get into a discussion on some of his pros and cons as a player.
The good: Versatile defender who lined up at multiple positions during his collegiate career at Colorado State. Possesses upside as a pass rusher demonstrating strong closing speed and good pursuit abilities. Instinctive player who has proper tackling technique and is adept in run support. Known for creating turnovers and has a penchant for stripping the ball loose from the opposition. Prototypical fit for a LEO backer in the NFL and offers a great deal of upside and intrigue for Wade Phillip's 3-4 defense.
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The bad: One-year wonder in college who has only average size and athleticism. Lacks functional upper body strength which hinders his ability to disengage from larger offensive lineman. Has only an average first-step off the snap, which could inhibit his ability to reach premier pass rushing status in the NFL. Game tape from snaps at inside linebacker show below-average coverage skills and overall, stiff movement in that regard when asked to drop back into zones.
Quotable: "Shane gave me $2,000, nothing too big. Everyone else was talking about how he got first-round money, so I should charge him $20,000, but I'm not going to do something like that to him." — Shaquil Barrett on selling his #56 Broncos jersey to first-round selection Shane Ray
Status: More optimistic than most, I believe that Barrett has a chance to be a difference maker on this team. His collegiate experience at inside linebacker as a stand-up pass rusher and on the outside give him positional flexibility. While he may lack size and athleticism, he gives it his all every down and rises to the occasion when it matters most on the gridiron. Phillips is known for being a coach who formulates his defenses to highlight players strengths and I have little doubt that he can come up with creative ways to utilize Barrett effectively.
Kenny Anunike and Lerentee McCray are two members of the club that he will battle it out against in order to secure a spot on the final roster. In my opinion, Barrett offers more long-term potential and upside than either of them. If Barrett's game can improve from year one to year two much like it did at Colorado State, you can count on him carving out a niche as a role player on this squad in 2015.