Draft season is ripe with rumors, smokescreens, and suppositions, and this year is no different. There’s been word that the Broncos want to love CeeDee Lamb, are high on Denzel Mims, and of course Woody Paige shared that it is in fact Jerry Jeudy that Elway will land. All of this comes after months connecting Henry Ruggs with the orange and blue, and Pro Football Talk confirmed yesterday that the Alabama wide receiver has been in constant contact with the Broncos.
But hiding in plain sight is the fact that Bryce Callahan’s health situation is a mystery. John Elway admitted as much as his pre-Draft conference call on Monday. Asked about the cornerback depth on the roster and the status of his 2019 free agent signing, Elway was about as noncommittal as can be.
“I’ll start with Bryce. It sounds like he’s coming along. Until he gets out there and runs around, feels comfortable with his foot and works through that to where hopefully he gets into a position to where is comfortable to play. We’re hopeful that things are coming along, and he’ll be ready by the time we get to training camp and then work back into things. We’re hoping that Bryce can come back, play this year and play the way we think he’s capable of. As far as corners, there is some depth at corner. Again, you go back and determine what you like. Obviously, [Ohio State CB] Jeff [Okudah] has been the top-rated guy for a lot people. And then you’ve got [Florida CB CJ] Henderson, [Alabama CB Trevon] Diggs and [A.J.] Terrell from Clemson. You have a lot of players. Again, it goes back to how different teams look at them.”
Nothing Elway says is all that surprising considering Callahan’s injury last year and the fact that COVID-19 has prevented teams from being able to see him in action prior to the draft. However, it’s worth mentioning that the Broncos did have Callahan take a pay cut one month ago. Over the Cap’s Nick Korte described it best:
Callahan has agreed to forgo $1.75 million of base salary and $250,000 of per game roster bonuses in 2020 in order to stay on the team. That money is instead converted into an incentive based upon snap counts during that season. That makes sense, given he missed all of 2019 and has a reputation for durability concerns. This pay cut gives the Broncos an extra $1.8 million in cap space for 2020.
The part about snap counts is very interesting, and could be savvy considering that Callahan has missed more games than he’s played in to this point in his NFL career. The Broncos protected themselves financially in case he can’t suit up or return to form.
What they’ve yet to do is protect themselves on the field. I wrote about it back when it happened, but the A.J. Bouye trade was in essence a move to replace Chris Harris Jr. Bringing back De’Vante Bausby was a low cost upside swing. As of yet, Denver has done nothing to shore up the second boundary corner position despite Prince Amukamara sitting on the market. The veteran corner saw the best seasons of his career under Fangio.
One reason it’s made sense to wait on adding Amukamara is how deep this NFL Draft class is at the position. As I built my broncos draft boards over the last weekend, I came to realize that I have more defensive backs than receivers in my top 100. When you add that to Fangio’s draft history, it suggests the Broncos will add talent to the secondary before the end of day 2.
But if the receiver Elway wants is out of reach and he suspects Callahan can’t go? It’s not unreasonable to believe they could grab one as early as 15th overall.