Free agency is just around the corner for the NFL and it is a great time to take a nice long look at what the Denver Broncos have in the cupboard. Every ounce of this is my own personal opinion based off what I’ve seen from the players.
Today we’re continuing our series with our secondary and find out what holes the Broncos should be looking to fill in the 2018 NFL offseason.
We’re going to use the following system to rank the players:
- Project / developmental - Not ready
- Backup quality - good for a spell
- Mediocre starter - Meh...he can play
- Good starter - Solid player
- Superb player - Playmaking stud
I’ll rate each unit as follows based off of my assessment of the individual pieces the Broncos have on hand:
- Blow it up - the Broncos have nothing of NFL quality to work with
- Severely lacking at least one starter
- Mediocre need
- Solid talent and depth
- NFL super group
Aqib Talib - 5
We’ve all heard the rumors that this guy is going to be traded. I get it. But let me tell you the No Bull truth: If Talib leaves, this defense takes a full step backwards. He is that important to their success and how our scheme operates. He’s the real deal and I’d argue the best corner in the game today at an overall skill level. And let’s get real: Roby couldn’t carry his jock with a wheelbarrow and a pair of hired hands.
Chris Harris, Jr. - 5
CHJ is a dream of a technician at corner, safety, or anywhere in the defensive backfield you want to play him. He works outside, inside, and upside down if your scheme calls for it and does it all at a level most players only dream of attaining. The guy is a badass and everyone in Broncos Country knows it.
Bradley Roby - 4
Roby played his tail off in 2017 and definitely looked the part of a starting NFL corner. He’s a full step back in quality from Talib and that makes me hesitate quite a bit as I’m not seeing the development of his game that I’d have thought we’d see at this point in his career. He still thrives off of man coverage and seems a bit slow to read and react which limits what the coordinators can do with him in our scheme. That being said, he’s got decent man coverage skills though I’m not sure how well they will hold up if he has to match up consistently with the #1 WRs of the league.
Brendan Langley - 2
Langley is a guy to watch this preseason. The Broncos drafted this guy as a multi-year project and in year 2 of his NFL career we should see him developing into a guy that can be counted on to cover a #3 or #4 WR in a dime package. With as little action as he’s seen he’s a huge question mark for the team in 2018.
Marcus Rios - 1
This is another developmental guy we picked up in 2017, though I don’t have nearly as high of hopes for as I do for Langley. That being said, Joe Woods knows corners better than anything and if there’s talent to develop with Rios, we’ll see it start showing in 2018.
Michael Hunter - 1
Hunter is a dark horse in my books to make the team and possibly threaten for the #4 spot on the roster at corner. He’s got the size and speed you want in a corner and given how the Broncos worked to get him on the team and then to sign him to the active roster in order to protect their rights to him, you have to think they see something in the guy.
Overview - 5 / 3
The strength of this unit really depends on what the Broncos decide to do with Aqib Talib. If he stays, this unit will continue to be in my mind the best cornerback unit in the NFL. If he leaves, there’s a definite need there as I’m not confident at all that Denver has a #1 corner on the roster capable of handling the assignment of some of the taller, lengthier #1 WRs in the NFL.
Justin Simmons - 4
Amid a total crapper of a NFL season from the Denver Broncos, Justin Simmons had a coming out party. He’s got the look of a dangerous play making safety who can do anything you ask at any area of the field. If he takes another step forward in his game by continuing to grow as a player and you will start hearing his name mentioned with the likes of Eric Berry, Earl Thomas, and Landon Collins.
Darian Stewart - 4
Stewart had a rather weird season where his game slipped quite a bit early on as he was filling in for the role vacated by the loss of T.J. Ward. Once the Broncos moved him back to the FS role, he got back to playing very well. Look for him to stay over the top in 2018 as that’s where he excels in this scheme and his recent contract extension dictates that he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
Will Parks - 2
I honestly feel like Will Parks got a little too much hype for what we saw from him in 2017. Probably the biggest issue I’ve seen from him is his lack of read / react instincts. It takes him a bit to catch on to where he needs to be and many times by the time he starts reacting it is already too late.
Jamal Carter - 2
Carter was a guy that flashed here and there as a rookie with a very impressive training camp. He could easily take over the #3 safety spot with a good camp in my mind.
Overview - 4
This is a very solid unit with a couple of guys that are impressive starters and a couple of depth guys that need polishing to truly turn into NFL starting quality players. The contracts here too allow for a lot of flexibility from this group as far as the near future goes.
Defensive roster status overall
- Defensive Ends 4
- Nose Tackles 4
- Outside Linebackers 3
- Inside Linebackers 2
- Cornerbacks 5 / 3
- Safeties 4