Steve Atwater joined Ryan Edwards and Benjamin Allbright on Broncos Country Tonight, talking all things defensive backs.
And crowd participation.
So before we get to the important stuff, I want to give Atwater props for standing strong on “the wave.” Yes, it’s kind of a silly exercise at sporting events, but I always feel like it jolts fans back into paying attention to being participatory - and as Atwater says, “players need the wave.”
I was disappointed in you too— Doctor of Words (and tights ... not homeschool) (@docllv) May 13, 2020
The lame part of the wave is that no one knows when to stop it. There should be a "one-time around" rule - but nothing reminds fans to get back into the game like the wave.
And then it should be mandatory to go into the "D-FENSE" cheer.
But onto football.
Edwards asked Atwater and Allbright to consider “what it means if” regarding the Broncos’ third-round pick, cornerback Michael Ojemudia, beginning with what if he ends up being the No. 2 cornerback?
The first thing that comes to mind, Atwater said, is what that means about Bryce Callahan’s health. If Ojemudia is No. 2 because Callahan is hurt, then that’s less than ideal.
But if Callahan is playing and Ojemudia is the No. 2, that bodes well since Atwater considers AJ Bouyé and Callahan the top two CBs in the room.
“If Ojemudia is able to beat [Callahan] out, then man, we got a steal of a pick with him,” the Hall-of-Famer said. “I would imagine Callahan could be in the slot. If Ojemudia is No. 2 CB with base defense, he’s balling out and we had a great pick.”
But if he just ends up contributing on special teams this year, Allbright believes the expectation should be that the Day 2 pick is learning this year with high expectation for being a starter the next season.
It’s possible that Ojemudia as special teamer also signals that the cornerback room is strong with DeVanté Bausby and Isaac Yiadom making contributions with Callahan and Bouyé as 1 and 2.
“He just needs to come in and work as hard as he can. If he winds up being third corner, he’s put in some work,” Atwater said, adding that the cornerback group is one of the most exciting rooms for him to watch this year. “I think that’s a great CB room, and I’m excited to see who is going to rise to the top. There may be a guy who doesn’t make the roster who really can play in this league.”
But of course, Ojemudia still has to prove he can play against NFL-level talent now - which is never easy for a rookie at any position.
“We haven’t seen him go up against NFL competition. We haven’t seen him go against Courtland Sutton. We haven’t seen him try to cover TEs Noah Fant or Albert O. I’m anxious to see how he responds to this level of play.”
Earlier in the broadcast, Edwards asked Atwater specifically about safeties and “at what point” in assessing a college recruit, the Hall-of-Famer would know when a player is a defensive back who can go on to the next level.
First, Atwater advised, watch the player when he doesn’t know he’s being evaluated and recruited and see how he interacts with teammates and coaches.
“Does this guy love football? Is he running to the ball? Is he fired up out on the field?” Atwater said. “For a safety, is he physical and hustling and involved in the plays, or taking a couple of steps to make sure he’s not involved in the play?”
But while he believes it’s really important for DBs to be good communicators, being “chirpy” with the wide receivers is not a must. In fact, most of the time it gets in the way, Atwater said.
“If a player can do that and still do their job, I’m all for it. But for most guys, it gets in the way,” Atwater said, noting that Deion Sanders was one of the few who could do both. “They end up messing up their defense and then it’s no good. Prime Time...now he could talk and you’re not going to catch a pass on him. But I haven’t seen many guys able to do that consistently. I’d rather they don’t do it, but if they do, better back it up with good play.”
Likely spot for Michael Ojemudia on CB depth chart
This poll is closed
Special Teamer only