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Broncos roster review: Defensive back Duke Dawson, Jr

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NFL: OCT 27 Broncos at Colts Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Duke Dawson Jr
Defensive Back #20
Experience: 3 years
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 198 pounds
Age: 24
College: Florida

When the 2019 season began Duke Dawson was on the roster primarily to add depth to the defensive backfield. When the Broncos traded for Dawson the thought was that Bryce Callahan would be the starter, and Isaac Yiadom would get the lion’s share of playing time off the bench.

When Callahan went down for the season, a rotation of Dawson, Yiadom, De’Vante Bausby, and Devontae Harris was used to fill the hole in the defense.

For Dawson, it was a chance to get playing time outside of special teams. From Week 4 to Week 12, Dawson figured prominently in the defensive backfield. His play in Week 9 and 11 earned him a start in Week 12, but a concussion sidelined him during the game, and he struggled to get back on the field.

With a small sample size from Dawson, it is hard to tell where he will fall on the depth chart. It looked like he had made a good impression before his concussion, but after he cleared concussion protocol he was primarily used on special teams.

The Good

Dawson was a second round draft pick for a reason. The skill set and athleticism is there. He has shown the ability to compete at the NFL level, and will likely improve with a full offseason under his belt with the Broncos.

The defensive backfield is still seen by many as a potential weak link in Denver. While Dawson is not a current starter, the need for depth at the position makes him an important piece of the puzzle for Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell.

The Bad

The fact that Dawson had ample opportunity to play his way into a prominent role in the DB rotation and didn’t is cause for concern. After several weeks of registering about a third of the defensive snaps, Dawson disappeared in the final weeks of the season.

From Weeks 14-17 Dawson played a total of 7 defensive snaps. Even more telling, he only played 16 snaps on special teams. His inability to really impress during a stretch of consistent playing time during the 2019 season does not bode well for Dawson becoming much more than a depth piece.

Final Word

A need of depth in the defensive backfield should help Dawson stick on the roster. He may not find much playing time on defense, but could figure prominently on special teams.

Dawson is also a player that could benefit from the potentially expanded rosters in 2020. There will be a need for depth at all positions, and this should open up a secure spot on the roster.