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Broncos 2019 Roster Review: Linebacker Josey Jewell

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Can the inside linebacker make the leap in his second year?

NFL: DEC 24 Broncos at Raiders Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Josey Jewell was drafted in the fourth round last year, and many thought he wouldn’t see the field much his first season with Todd Davis and Brandon Marshall ahead of him on the depth chart.

Josey Jewell Profile

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 234

Age: 24

Experience: 2nd season

Due to injuries and a drop in play from Marshall, Jewell ended up playing 42 percent of the defensive snaps, racking up 58 total tackles, 38 solo, and four tackles for loss last season as a rookie. He also contributed nearly 70 percent of snaps on special teams and was a great addition to that unit.

The good

Jewell was as advertised in terms of toughness and tenacity on tape. He was never afraid to stick his nose in there against the run, and was at his best attacking the ball downhill. Jewell showed good play recognition in the run game, and was generally where he needed to be. I know there were a few missed tackles that stuck out, but overall, he was a sound tackler in the hole as well.

The bad

Jewell’s lack of lateral quickness really shows up on tape, particularly in coverage. It’s not that he’s often out of position or missing assignments in coverage, it’s just that he’s a hair late or at a poor angle due to slow hips or just not being able to get out there fast enough.

That’s not to say all his problems in coverage are athleticism based. Jewell was routinely picked on in the play action game as teams used his aggressiveness against the run (some of which I believe was coached) against him. I charted all the touchdowns Denver’s defense gave up through the air last year, and Jewell was responsible for at least two, maybe three of them.

Now, there were a few bright spots in coverage for him (his nice wheel route coverage downfield versus Baltimore comes to mind), but he’s going to have to really work to improve this area this coming year.

Lastly, the run game is generally his strong suit and calling card, but I saw several plays on tape this year where Jewell was either peeking and got out of position, or was just flat out in the wrong gap, and it led to big plays. I know Denver’s run fits were a disaster from a team defense standpoint, so that may be it. I chalk it up generally to rookie learning curve, but it’s something to watch this year.

Quotable

“It’s awesome being able to work with these guys every day and being able to hear Coach Fangio talk in our defensive meetings. Stuff like that’s been cool. We’ve really learned a lot about defense and different types of concepts. I think with his defense what’s really cool is they (the offenses) are never really knowing what you’re in—what coverage you’re in. It really disguises everything really well.”

“It’s Year 2 and I feel a little more relaxed. Not in the relaxed sense of, ‘I’m here, I’ve arrived,’ or anything like that. The relaxed sense that now I just play football. Last year, I felt a little tense and I wasn’t sure what to do coming in as a rookie. I definitely now understand the role and understand what to do. Being around it a year, I feel a lot more comfortable with everything.”

On working with Todd Davis next to him

“I feel great. He’s a great communicator and a great leader, so you should be able to listen to that. Being able to talk back and forth between him and communicate every play is really good—just being able to talk it out. Tell each other what we have, what we see and just communicate every play.”

Josey Jewell’s roster status with the Broncos

I think Denver gave Jewell a vote of confidence when they traded out of the #10 overall slot this year and didn’t select Devin Bush out of Michigan. However, Jewell can’t assume the second ILB spot next to Davis is his as Alexander Johnson, Justin Hollins, and Joe Jones will all be gunning for that spot as well.

I think Jewell ends up locking that second spot down and can see some improvement in Fangio’s scheme. He’s going to have to show a lot of improvement because it looks like he may get a good chunk of snaps as the second ILB. He won’t just be rotated off the field in sub-packages, as it looks like Fangio will keep both ILBs out there in a true nickel as the primary sub-package.

In Chicago, Roquan Smith played over 80 percent of snaps, and Danny Trevathan played over 90 percent, so there’s a role to be carved out in this defense if Jewell is able to find it in this new scheme.

I think this year, and particularly Jewell’s performance will go a long way in telling us if ILB needs to once again be at the top of the draft wish list for next year.

Poll

Will Josey Jewell be the ILB the Broncos need him to be this season?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Yes
    (436 votes)
  • 10%
    No
    (84 votes)
  • 32%
    Sure, maybe, probably, I don’t know. Isn’t Training Camp starting?
    (253 votes)
773 votes total Vote Now