College football fans who watched linebacker Josey Jewell’s impeccable career at the University of Iowa already know he has a knack for gravitating toward the football. Whether it was a timely interception or a key sack that changed the tide of the game, you could count on ‘The Outlaw’ to make the big play. That’s just the kind of player he was and it’s the type of player the Denver Broncos are hoping that he can become in the pros.
But that was then, this is now. Welcome to the National Football League, rookie. It’s a different beast, it’s own unique animal. The competition is steeper, the opposition is far more battle-tested and infinitely tougher compared to what he faced with the Hawkeyes.
“Just the game speed is a little bit different. Coverages are different from college, just technique-wise and the small details of how coverages are really explained and how you process them. There hasn’t been that moment yet, but I’m sure there will be that soon, though,” stated Jewell.
Even though Jewell was sidelined for the first five days of training camp, that hasn’t stopped him from making a good impression to date. He has been lauded by fellow defenders and coaches for his intensity on the field, as well as his mental approach to the game ever since he was drafted. With veterans Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis penciled in as the opening day starters for the Broncos at inside linebacker, Jewell is showcasing his talents to earn a backup spot for the franchise, earn looks in certain defensive packages and will likely be a key member of the team’s special teams unit.
“He’s been good. Obviously, the hamstring slowed him down the first week, week and a half of camp, but he’s back. He had a good day today. How does he fit? He’s competing to be one of our backups. He has to be a core guy on special teams and he’s pushing to get playing time in our certain packages,” stated Head Coach Vance Joseph. “I’ve been impressed with him from a mental standpoint. He doesn’t make mistakes and that’s a nice sign for a young player.”
#ICYMI on @OrangeBlue760:— Orange & Blue 760 (@OrangeBlue760) August 5, 2018
Broncos Linebacker, @josey_jewell, joined @MILEHIMARC & @BKDenverSports to talk @Broncos training camp!
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When the draft comes around, players like Jewell who didn’t test phenomenally often slide down draft boards. It’s the major reason he was available in the fourth round for Denver, despite putting up astronomical production in his historic collegiate career that easily ranked at or near the top of this year’s draft class. But more often than not, it’s not the testing numbers that are the be-all-end-all factor in a prospects success (or lack thereof) in the big leagues. It’s their ability to understand the game at a far more advanced and complicated level, and whether or not they have the intestinal and mental fortitude to deal with the rigors at a professional level.
In that regard, Jewell has checked all the boxes and two key defenders on the Broncos have taken notice of that and believe he has a chance to make an impact for the team in his rookie season.
“Josey is extremely smart, picks up the playbook fast, and I think he going to be able to contribute for us,” stated the aforementioned Marshall. “Honestly, he just has to kind of get his legs back. He had that hamstring. Once he gets his leg back and he kind of gets more experienced, I think he’ll be fine.”
That sentiment was furthered by All-Pro outside linebacker Von Miller, who had a glowing review of the former Hawkeye after yesterday’s practice.
“You’re talking about Red Beard (laughs)? That’s one of my favorite rookies. I just love the way he plays. He may be a rookie, but when you talk to him, it really doesn’t feel like he’s a rookie. When you see him play, it doesn’t look like he’s a rookie,” stated Miller. “He’s going to play in this league for a long time. I just like his intensity, I like having conversations with him. He’s going to be great for us.”
It may be early on, but fans across Broncos Country should be very excited about the 2018 NFL Draft class. Whether it’s Jewell, Courtland Sutton, Royce Freeman or a handful of others — they appear to be well on their way to making some waves early on in their pro careers. It’s a refreshing and welcomed change from years past and the type of impact that will go a long way toward propelling the Broncos back to the top of the AFC West.