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2019 Broncos roster review: Cornerback Alijah Holder

The UDFA corner has a pretty good shot at making the Denver Broncos roster.

Stanford v USC Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos signed former Stanford cornerback Alijah Holder after the 2019 NFL Draft concluded. General Manager John Elway, Head Coach Vic Fangio, and the other Broncos decision-makers felt highly of Holder because they gave him an $18,000 signing bonus and a $30,000 guarantee(via 9NEWS Denver’s Mike Klis).

Now Holder will join Vic Fangio’s Denver Broncos defense and look to crack the 53-man roster at cornerback.

Alijah Holder Profile

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 191 pounds | 40-time: 4.6 seconds

Arm Length: 32 1/2” | Hands: 9 1/2”

Bench press: 9 reps | Vertical jump: 36.0 inches | Broad Jump: 121.0 inches

3-Cone drill: 6.7 seconds | 20-Yard shuttle: 4.15 seconds

Holder played a total of four seasons at Stanford and put up some solid numbers when healthy during his time there. During his four year career, he totaled 131 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss, 2 interceptions, 24 pass deflections, and 5 forced fumbles. This past season for Stanford, Holder totaled 58 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, 9 pass deflections, and 1 forced fumble.

The accolades earned by Alijah Holder during his time at Stanford via

  • 2018 All-Pac-12 honorable mention
  • Three-time Pac-12 All-Academic (Second team in 2017, honorable mention in 2016 and 2018)
  • Bednarik Award watch list (2018)
  • Athlon All-Pac-12 preseason third team (2016)

Now Holder joins a Denver Broncos secondary with a chance to crack the teams 53-man roster.

The Broncos cornerback group is far from settled as we head into Training Camp. Veteran’s Chris Harris Jr. and Bryce Callahan figure to be your starters while second-year corner Isaac Yiadom will be looked at to make that second season jump. After those three, however, is where things get cloudy.

You have journeyman cornerback De’Vante Bausby vying for that fourth cornerback spot while others like Horace Richardson, Trey Johnson, Linden Stephens along with Holder are likely fighting for one roster spot. We haven’t even factored in the potential role that Kareem Jackson could play at corner/safety as well. So there figures to be an open competition there unless the Broncos add another corner prior to the start of the season.

Holder will certainly get a shot at earning a role in the Broncos defense this summer and there is a road where he can earn himself a 53-man roster spot.

The good

Anytime a team makes a financial commitment to you as an undrafted free agent, it really raises the odds of you sticking around. Obviously, they’re not going to pay you if they do not think you have a chance to stick around, so that alone is promising for Holder.

This also wasn’t just your usual signing bonus given to Holder either. It greatly exceeded what the Broncos gave to their other prominent undrafted free agents the following few years. Holder was given $18,000 in guaranteed money AND another $12,000 according to 9NEWS Denver’s Mike Klis.

Holder got another $12,000 guaranteed in salary for a total guarantee of $30,000. Holder’s guarantee exceeds the $20,000 guarantee the Broncos gave safety Jamal Carter two years ago. His $18,000 signing bonus exceeds the $15,000 the Broncos gave Phillip Lindsay and Jeff Holland last year.

So again, the Broncos made quite the financial commitment to Holder. A good sign that they believe he is part of their plans at cornerback moving forward.

Another plus here for Holder is that he apparently is picking up the defense rather quickly. Broncos Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell told reporters that Holder has “good things ahead of him”.

“Absolutely. Again, it’s all about teaching. He’s picked up the system very fast. He’s a guy that came off of injury about 18 months ago, and now he’s fully healthy. He worked through his senior year, and we think he has good things ahead of him.”

Holder should be picking up the system rather quickly since he’s a great fit for it. He lacks the athleticism needed to be a man coverage guy and fits a cover-3 system much better. Add in his tackling ability, physicality, size/strength, and blitzing ability and you can see why the Broncos wanted Holder on their team. Fangio and Donatell have a good history of developing defensive backs as well, so all this bodes well for Holder.

Finally, you have the current lack of depth at cornerback for the Broncos. After your first three, it is pretty much an open competition as I stated above. The financial commitment they made added with the lack of depth really does help his case moving forward this summer.

The bad

Holder has dealt with injuries throughout his career at Stanford. These injuries limited him to just 12 total games from 2016 and 2017, but he did bounce back and remain healthy this past season. A shoulder injury ended his season after just four games in 2016 while a leg injury limited him to just 8 games in 2017. Now, he did remain healthy throughout 2018 and didn’t get any red flags and failed physicals during the draft process, so hopefully, he managed to shake the injury bug.

His lack of athleticism is what really hurt him throughout the draft process. He ran a 4.6 40-time in front of scouts which is usually a big red flag. Anything below a 4.5 is usually a concern, so a 4.6 is a bit concerning. The scheme the Broncos run does help lower those concerns, but his ability to stick with receivers will be something to watch this summer.


The Athletic’s draft analyst Dane Brugler on Broncos cornerback Alijah Holder

A three-star recruit out of high school, Alijah Holder led Oceanside to a 2013 league championship with 20 passes defended and two interceptions. He was the No. 35 cornerback in the 2014 recruiting class and committed to Stanford over Arizona and San Diego State. He made an immediate impact as a redshirt freshman, but battled injuries over the next two years. He started 10 games as a senior and finished second on the team with 10 passes defended. Holder looks the part with his athletic frame and outstanding length, using his long arms to ball search and disrupt with timing. He is nimble-footed in his movements, but spacing and eye discipline were issues on tape. He struggled to stay healthy over his career, missing most of 2016 (shoulder) and 2017 (leg). Overall, Holder is a smooth, balanced athlete (fourth-fastest three-cone at the Combine), but he doesn’t show the same suddenness after his injuries with suspect awareness to hold up in zone.

Alijah Holder highlights

Alijah Holder’s roster status with the Broncos

Holder is on the bubble but I really do like his chances.

Again, the Broncos made a big commitment to him as an undrafted free agent so that once again shows that they think he is in their future plans. Also, the last few times the Broncos gave a UDFA this type of commitment, a majority of them (Jamal Carter and Phillip Lindsay) made the 53-man roster while Jeff Holland cracked the Broncos 10-man Practice Squad. So odds are that we will see him on the team in some capacity come this fall.

The depth at corner is lacking and the real only competition he has ahead of him is Da’Vante Bausby who has been a journeyman throughout his career and is far from a lock as well. So if Holder stays healthy, continues to impress the coaches, and make plays, I think he makes the 53-man roster. At the very least, he will be on the Practice Squad come week one.


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