Every team would love to have a shutdown cornerback on their roster. Luckily for the Denver Broncos, they boast three of them.
The "No-Fly Zone", spearheaded by highly talented cornerbacks Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby is without question the most feared cornerback unit in the entire league.
The trio put on an absolute clinic defensively last season, scoring defensive touchdowns on a handful of occasions that changed the tide of games and helped propel the Broncos to numerous victories. Quarterbacks and wide receivers were often given fits due to their tenacious play game in and game out, and offensive coordinators across the league struggled to come up with a winning formula to beat Denver's star secondary.
Late last week, Head Coach Gary Kubiak touched base on the teams coverage philosophy and discussed why the unit is so successful.
"We’re a man coverage football team and so there is no day you go out there and it’s easy to beat coverage, or someone is sitting in three-deep zone. We’re always locked up. We’re always competing," said Kubiak in regard to the defensive philosophy of the secondary. "It gives you a chance to be the best you can be. As a coach it helps you evaluate when you know they are going against really good people every day."
ProFootballFocus lauded the Broncos cornerback unit as the best in the NFL. Talib, Harris Jr. and Roby all were ranked in the top thirty grade wise across the league — a feat that no other team can boast.
The talent at the position doesn't end with those three players. It isn't just a top-heavy unit that lacks depth. The Broncos have fourth-year player Kayvon Webster, who is talented enough to start for some teams in the NFL. Webster has significant experience on defense and has blossomed into one of their best special teams players, but is out to prove he deserves to be mentioned along with the other members of the No-Fly Zone.
In the 2015 NFL Draft, the Broncos opted to add to an already strong group of players by drafting the Tulane Green Wave duo of Lorenzo Doss and Taurean Nixon, who are competing with undrafted rookie free agents B.J. Lowery and John Tidwell for the last spots at the position on the roster.
With this in mind, here is my prognostication on where the cornerbacks stand thus far in regard to making the team in 2016.
Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr., Bradley Roby and Kayvon Webster
The top four positions at cornerback are settled with the aforementioned players. Talib should be ready to participate in camp next week and Harris Jr. has been getting rest nursing a hamstring injury. With those two being out, Roby and Webster have earned extensive reps on the first-team defense (though Roby has essentially been a starter since his rookie year in Denver, given the amount of nickel the team playes) and have shined thus far in camp. Their spots are certainly safe, but the other spots up for grabs are less certain.
Lorenzo Doss and Taurean Nixon
If the Broncos opt to carry six cornerbacks on the active roster, my gut tells me that the Tulane Green Wave duo would round out the last two spots. Doss and Nixon have made some splash plays during training camp and have good athleticism and ball skills that will bode well for their aspirations to make the final roster.
Nixon is focused and determined to make the Broncos final roster, and is very thankful to have the opportunity to show what he can do this year at camp.
"They’re tremendous. They’re great," said Nixon in regard to the amount of reps he has received in training camp. "Just going in with my position group and every day what I need to work on and learning everything that I need to learn to actually make this team each year and give it a good stride come the last preseason game. I’m just taking every rep I can take and making the best of it."
On The Bubble:
B.J. Lowery and John Tidwell
Undrafted rookie cornerbacks Lowery and Tidwell are talented players who won't make the Broncos final roster, but most certainly have the ability to be a part of the teams' practice squad. Their status as "on the bubble" isn't a negative indictment of their capabilities, but a testament to how strong Denver's unit is from top to bottom.
My prognostication is that the Broncos carry six cornerbacks on their roster in 2016: Talib, Harris Jr., Roby, Webster, Doss and Nixon and that Lowery and Tidwell earn spots on the teams' practice squad.
Sound off in the comments section and give us your predictions on who you believe the Broncos group of cornerbacks will be.