Hall-of-Famer Steve Atwater joined Broncos Country Tonight, and anytime he’s on, it’s a must-listen.
The former Broncos’ safety weighed in on a lot of different-but-related topics, including the Broncos’ cornerback situation.
Atwater is not closing the door on Chris Harris Jr. remaining with the team despite adding A.J. Bouyé - and although in a straight-up comparison he’d take Harris Jr. over Bouye - he liked the trade and loves the idea of the Broncos adding talent at that position.
“I like the trade because you can never have enough good corners,” he said, adding that the Broncos still need to be looking for another one - whether that is possibly bringing Harris Jr. back or going after another free agent like Prince Amukamara. “I think we’ll still be looking for someone who can come in and play and play a significant number of snaps. Bryce Callahan has not played a full season his entire career, so I don’t know that we can say ‘Alright, let’s put our future in his hands.’”
Callahan, a free agent from Chicago who joined the Broncos last season but was sidelined by injury most of it, is expected to be ready to go this spring, according to sources who spoke with Benjamin Allbright. If Callahan can play, Atwater is all about his ability to improve the Broncos’ secondary.
If he does play, that’s a huge bonus, because Bryce Callahan when he’s healthy, he can ball,” Atwater said. “I really love his game. But you’ve got to be on the field...And even if he is healthy, still need legit three corners now.”
That could be re-signing Devante Bausby, it could be bringing in Amukamara, it could be someone in the draft or it could be coaching up one of the backups - Davontae Harris, Duke Dawson or Isaac Yiadom.
But they will need to “bring their game up to another level,” Atwater says to compete within the division.
“We need to add two more - whether free agency or the Draft - and we need to have 3-4 names looking at because it’s gonna be hard to go up against the Chiefs with sub-par guys,” he added.
Ryan Edwards pressed Atwater to give his Day 1 and Day 2 choices for the Broncos in the upcoming Draft, and although he’d prefer Jerry Jeudy, he thinks Henry Ruggs is more attainable. But he definitely wants a wide receiver.
“Yeah, just because Drew Lock, if he is in fact our quarterback of the future - and I believe he is - give him a weapon,” Atwater said, recalling his playing days when John Elway would have liked a few of those, “It’s the perfect time to get a blazing wide receiver who is going to be a superstar right along with my man Court. Big-time players making big-time plays.”
For Day 2, Atwater has his sights set on two different positions/players, depending on whether the Broncos have CHJ or another cornerback (say, Amukamara) in the building or not.
“If not, we’ve got to go corner,” Atwater said, throwing out the name of Trevon Diggs, Alabama cornerback and younger brother to the Vikings’ stud wide receiver.
But if the Broncos add another cornerback in free agency, the former safety prefers the team goes to the offensive line and picks LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry.
“He kinda jumped out when we were watching practice at the Senior Bowl,” Atwater said. “He’s just a big lower body out there manhandling guys. He gave Javon Kinlaw a run for his money.”
And if by chance none of the offensive weapons are available for the Broncos in the first round, Atwater wouldn’t mind his nephew making it to his former team - safety Jeremy Chinn.
Given that Vic Fangio has mentioned doing more six DB-sets, it wouldn’t be crazy for the Broncos to add to their secondary in the first round.
“He’s physical. He’s good in man-to-man coverage on tight ends, which all safeties need to be that way nowadays with offenses emphasizing getting tight ends the football,” Atwater said. “You need to get physical with those guys, push them around a little bit.”
Chinn’s stock went way up after the Combine, and he’s likely to go in the first round. Although Denver has Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson, Chinn would be a good young guy to come into the group since Jackson’s contract is up in two years.
“The thing is, he’s a good dude,” said his uncle. “Taking care of his business, smart, intelligent, all those things you look for off the field. He’s all that.”