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No Bull Positional Review: Cornerbacks

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Denver Broncos offseason positional review discussing what the team has based off of 2016 production of players on the team. We'll review stats, eye-test opinion, contract situation, and depth on the Denver Bronco team as we prepare for the start of free agency and the NFL draft.

NFL: AFC Championship-New England Patriots at Denver Broncos Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I'm breaking down our team to look at what we have in the cupboard for this offseason. In doing so, I've gathered data from nflgsis.com to give us some stats to look at as we evaluate what our players did in the 2016 regular season. Also, overthecap.com contract info will be embedded when available. I'll add to that a synopsis of each player including their contract situation. Hopefully this helps Broncos Country here at MHR be better educated on the state of the team, it’s strengths and weaknesses, and what positions we’ll likely target in free agency and the draft.

In case you missed any of the earlier parts of this series:

We’re on to the other half of the defensive backfield and one of John Elway’s personal favorites: cornerbacks. In today’s NFL, it is absolutely imperative that you have talent at the cornerback position if you want to have an above average defense. Denver has placed a very high priority on keeping our cornerback corps stocked with high end talent. So much so that in many circles it was the opinion that the 2016 Denver Broncos had the best corners in the league.

Stats

Cornerbacks.csv

Player Tkl Ast Comb Sack Sk Yds TFL QH Int PD FF FR Snap %
Player Tkl Ast Comb Sack Sk Yds TFL QH Int PD FF FR Snap %
Aqib Talib 32 11 43 0 0 1 1 3 12 0 0 75.8%
Chris Harris 57 6 63 0 0 1 0 2 11 1 1 95.6%
Bradley Roby 34 5 39 1 0 0 0 2 8 1 0 60.1%
Lorenzo Doss 4 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6.7%
Taurean Nixon 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.4%

Players

Aqib Talib

NFL: New England Patriots at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Contract Info

Aqib Talib is arguably the best cornerback in the NFL. He is a guy that has the length and physicality to match up one on one with any #1 WR in the league. It is this kind of play that makes a whole lot of people in Broncos Country easily forgive his off the field troubles and at times dirty play.

The only weakness I’ve seen from Talib is when you put a true burner on him. T.Y. Hilton for instance gives him fits. That’s an easy thing to work around though when you line up another corner across from him that does not have the same weakness.

The one thing to keep in mind in 2017 is that there is the distinct possibility that the NFL could take disciplinary action against him for the shooting incident in Texas in 2016. The good thing is that his contract isn’t a restrictive puzzle piece should the Broncos decide they would be better off without the drama.

We’ve seen Talib shut down Julio Jones and A.J. Green. He’s that kind of good and a huge asset for the Denver defense. He brings an edge to our team as well with his physical style of play and bad-boy image that you know is intimidating to many WRs that line up across from him. And hey...at least he evolved from eye poking to chain snatching between 2015 - 2016.

Chris Harris, Jr.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Contract Info

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Chris Harris Jr. is arguably the best cornerback in the NFL. No, I’m not kidding. His 2017 season was absolutely phenomenal. PFF lauded his work as did many here at MHR.

Harris’ one knock is his size. He’s not a guy you like to see matched up with the really lengthy WRs or TEs. Teams actually scheme to force a mismatch and did so successfully a few times this past season even.

That being said, he’s a true technician of the NFL game. He can play outside, inside, safety, press, off, trail, hip, or any other way you can dream up for a NFL corner to play. One of his best attributes is his sharp mental game. He plays his technique to utilize the coverage the defense has him in better than any corner I’ve seen not named Champ Bailey.

There are no contract issues here, no character concerns, just a NFL superstar that every NFL team would trade at least one 1st for in a heartbeat.

Bradley Roby

NFL: San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Contract Info

Bradley Roby came into the season as a big name in Broncos Country. For me and others in Bronco Country, that clamoring has turned into a bit of a whimper. Where we were talking last offseason about him possibly replacing Talib this year or next; this offseason finds us pumping the brakes hard and fast on that idea.

Roby has a lot of raw freakish ability. The problem he’s had this year is one of effort (see the long Bortles run for a TD for a great example) and poor play in critical instances (check the final KC drive of the 4th quarter in our OT loss for how to not cover on 3rd down situations and goal line situations). His inconsistencies ran on the high side in 2016 and he looked like a player who had a post Super Bowl hangover in many ways during the regular season.

This is a possible contract year for Roby and one of the more interesting decisions for the Broncos will be whether they pick up his 5th year option. It would be expensive if they did and being a corner, he’ll be expensive to keep in all likelihood anyway. One way to light a fire under him may be to skip it and make him earn his next contract (not likely in Denver in this author’s opinion).

Lorenzo Doss

NFL: San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Contract Info

There is a LOT of talent between Lorenzo Doss and the field of play. That being said, I’m fairly bullish on him as a corner for us. He has the skill and ability to play in the league and the only reason he doesn’t see the field more is that he’s on a team with 3 starting quality corners ahead of him on the depth chart.

One of the big things I like is seeing a depth guy who gets so few snaps flash in real NFL action. He did that this year with some very impressive pass defenses where the QBs were targeting him as a weak link in the secondary (because the heck if they are going to throw at Talib or Harris, AMARITE!?).

Doss is one of those depth players that will be worth watching in the preseason. He absolutely can take the #3 spot in the depth chart with great play and a lot of hard work.

Taurean Nixon

NFL: Preseason-Arizona Cardinals at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Contract Info

Largely Taurean Nixon is JAG on the depth chart from what we’ve seen with him in his first two years in the NFL. He hasn’t seen the field much at all on defense and also only rarely for Special Teams.

He’ll be fighting to keep his job this offseason as I find it very possible that Denver will bring in young talent to compete as both Harris and Talib’s contracts expire in 2 years.

Position Overview

Really Denver is stacked at the cornerback position. They have arguably the best two starting corners in the league, a 1st round draft pick as their #3, and a very promising talent at #4. There is no real concern for 2017 with this position group. The only thing to note is that this is the year to draft a fresh corner if the Broncos believe they will be losing one or more of their starting three in the next two years.

If I were a betting man, I’d lay money that Roby is going to be a guy that the Broncos let walk after this season in order to get a compensatory pick. After 2019, we’ll likely need a replacement for Talib as well, though I find it plausible that he may still play here if things go well in 2017 as he is still at the top of his game (and the league in some ways).

What about you guys and gals? Is Roby better than I think he is? Is Talib a liability to the team? Is Doss a scrub and I just don’t see it? Hit up the comments below and let me know what you think.