The Denver Broncos have a familiarity with the University of Nebraska and have added several players from the school to their ranks over the past several seasons. Linebacker Josh Banderas joins Jared Crick, Andy Janovich and Zaire Anderson as former Cornhuskers hoping to make their mark and earn a roster spot with the team in 2017. After earning a role on the practice squad in 2015, Anderson ascended to the Broncos' 53 man roster a year later and proved to be an integral player on special teams for the club. It's possible that Banderas will likely follow the same path as his former teammate.
Name: Josh Banderas
Height: 6'2" Weight: 220
Age: 22 Experience: R
Banderas is the son of former Huskers tight end Tom Banderas, who played for the school back in the late 1980s and was a three-year letterman. With those football bloodlines and ties, choosing Nebraska over other schools was easy for the highly-touted recruit who became a centerpiece for the Blackshirt defense in his time in Lincoln. In four seasons at Nebraska, Banderas started 31 games and cemented himself as a full-time starter in his junior and senior seasons.
He saved his best play for last and racked up 93 tackles, 40 of them solo, along with 8 tackles for loss as a senior — which ranked the highest of any player on their defense. His stellar play as a team captain in his final year earned him All-Big Ten Coaches and Media honors in 2016. Not only was he a formidable player on the field, Banderas excelled in the classroom where he was an All-Big Ten Academic selection in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and earned the high praise of being a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar as a senior. After dominating the collegiate gridiron and classrooms, Banderas now embarks on his biggest challenge yet — making an NFL roster.
Banderas showed improvement each year at Nebraska and made his mark in his final two seasons on a team loaded with talent. He was also a team leader and captain for their squad in 2016 and was a beacon of success in the classroom and off the field, despite one minor incident in his past. He flashes quality linebacker instincts and is a strong run defender against the run. Moreover, he showed the desire to get better, asking the coaching staff to let him play special teams in order to do whatever it took to win in his final season. That's a fantastic attitude for any young player to have who hopes to achieve their NFL dreams.
Limited ceiling as an NFL player. Banderas is likely a two-down player at the next level, as doesn't possess the speed and coverage skills to be a three-down player in the NFL. Battled nagging injuries throughout his career, including a groin injury that kept him out of the four games as a junior and a wrist injury that held him out of most of the pre-Draft workouts.
"We've had guys that were undrafted that are doing really, really good, and signed really big contracts. It's definitely a confidence-booster seeing the guys that made it. Hopefully I can follow the same path that they did." - Banderas on his hopes of following former Huskers to the NFL
Banderas has an uphill battle if he wants to make the team's final roster, with Brandon Marshall, Todd Davis, Corey Nelson and the aforementioned Anderson likely penciled in as the team's top inside linebackers heading into the season. However, he has the tools and skills to earn a spot on the team's practice squad with the prospect of making the team's final roster as role player in 2018. He has the grit, determination and mindset to succeed, but average athletic traits might inhibit him from becoming anything but a back-up and special team's player in the pros.