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Denver Broncos roster 2016: Cornerback Taurean Nixon

Promoted to the active roster last season when David Bruton Jr. and Omar Bolden were placed on injured reserve, Taurean Nixon has a chance to be depth for the No Fly Zone - aka, the NFL's best secondary.

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It's that time of the year again. Mile High Report begins our annual 90 players in 90 days roster breakdown. Last year went fairly well, but through Aug. 27, we'll break down every player on the Denver Broncos roster.

Name: Taurean Nixon
Position: Cornerback
Height: 5'10"   Weight: 187
Age: 25   Experience: 2
College: Tulane

With six cornerbacks currently on the Broncos roster, Taurean Nixon, a seventh-round draft pick in 2015, is going to have to fight hard through camp to earn a spot.

The good news for the second-year player out of Tulane, however, is that he did prove himself a hard enough worker and talented enough football player last year to be promoted to the active roster for the postseason when David Bruton Jr. and Omar Bolden were both placed on injured reserve. While the former Green Wave defensive back didn't see any action on the field, he had a more close-up view of the playoffs and Super Bowl experience, which was a nice improvement over his angle from the practice squad.

Despite the large number of cornerbacks on the roster, it's a key position of Wade Phillips' scheme, which often features a three-cornerback look in its base package. With Chris Harris Jr., Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby taking those top three spots, additional cornerbacks are needed for depth at one of the Broncos' most important positions on defense. There's no way to know before camp just how likely it is Nixon can make it back to the active roster, but he certainly had a nice start to that battle when he got promoted to the roster last January.

The good:

Although the second-year player out of Tulane doesn't have any NFL game experience outside of preseason, he does have that plus a year of experience with Wade Phillips and the defensive scheme - which should not be underestimated, particularly when most of his competition will be other rookies without the benefit of a season to learn the defense. And his practice squad experience should not be discounted - he spent his days going up against Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders as well as playing wideout against Aqib Talib. So he was battling with the best and getting some excellent classroom experience while doing so.

The Broncos almost moved Nixon from the practice squad to the active roster a month prior to placing Bruton and Bolden on injured reserve. But instead Kubiak promoted No. 39 just a few weeks later when the need for depth at the position was dire as Harris Jr. was dealing with a sore shoulder.

Nixon, who ran track at Tulane and came in at 4.36 for his 40-yard dash time, was one of the fastest defensive backs available in the 2015 draft, and with his 38.5-inch vertical jump, that blistering speed should help him keep up with the bigger and faster wide receivers in the NFL.

In his time at Tulane, Nixon totaled 61 tackles, five tackles for a loss, three pass breakups, and one touchdown.

And not to be overlooked is his strong character. Last year when the Broncos were on the road, Nixon decided to spend his Sunday afternoons with kids in the hospital watching the games. Nixon has a younger brother with hydrocephalus and has been very familiar with spending time in the hospital. The reason he transferred to Tulane from the University of Memphis was to be closer to his family and his little brother. It's such a good story, you better read it!

The bad:

The primary downside for Nixon is his experience. With decent size, blazing speed and solid leaping ability, the biggest test for Nixon will be if he can consistently translate his natural athleticism to the pro game.


Gary Kubiak said in January when he bumped Nixon up to the active roster that it was nice "to reward some of your young guys that have been working really hard for you" all season.

"Nixon's a kid who's been doing a really good job for us who we actually thought about activating this past week," Kubiak said. There could be some maneuvering there."

Roster Status:

Speed and athleticism can be a huge advantage in the NFL, but Nixon will need to prove he can combine that with multiple skills, including good route-reading and ball-hawking - as well as adding to special teams - if he wants to crack this Broncos roster.