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Broncos roster review: cornerback Parnell Motley

The Denver Broncos have a lot of cornerbacks on the roster heading into training camp. Where does Parnell Motley fit into that?

NFL: Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Parnell Motley began his NFL career as an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma last season. He was picked up initially by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but ultimately landed on the San Francisco 49ers practice squad.

Parnell Motley’s profile

Height: 6’0”
Weight: 180 lbs
Age: 23 years old
Experience: Second Season
College: Oklahoma

With the Denver Broncos secondary decimated by injury, they claimed Motley off the 49ers practice squad in December and Motley ended up playing in his first NFL games by the end of his rookie season. He compiled 8 total tackles, a pass breakup, and a fumble recovery after playing nearly every snap in the final two games last season.

The good

Motley looked the part in those final two games. I recall coming away impressed with Motley when watching some of the film from those games late last year. I wanted to find some good clips of that out there somewhere, but the pickings were slim. Fortunately, I did locate a post written by Josh Carney over at Mile High Huddle that went into a very deep dive on Motley. I’d never come across Carney’s work before, but I’ll have to keep an eye out after seeing such a nice breakdown for Motley’s play late last season.

His translation to the NFL level could be underrated too given he was covering the other teams’ number one wide receiver every single week during his time at Oklahoma.

The bad

He lacks the size to handle more physical receivers. The critical errors he made in coverage last season could also be due to the fact that he was a rookie and just needed more refinement in his overall game. Pro Football Focus gave him an overall grade of 44.1 last season, but I feel that grade really only shows up on a few critical mistakes he made. In the context of a guy thrown in to start for a team that just claimed him off another teams practice squad, he outperformed expectations.

The other issue for Motley in 2021 is the fact that the Broncos went on a frenzy stacking up the secondary with talent this offseason. Motley went from late season starter to being a clear reserve guy behind Bryce Callahan, Kyle Fuller, Ronald Darby, and Patrick Surtain. There is a logjam of guys after that who will all be competing for a roster spot in training camp.

Final thoughts

I think Motley is on the bubble to make the final 53-man roster, but I also think Vic Fangio would be crazy not to keep him on the practice squad. There are other drafted cornerbacks that are in the mix for those roster spots too, like Michael Ojemudia and Kary Vincent Jr.

There is a good chance Motley makes the final 53-man roster based on what the team saw from him in those final two games, but at the very least I see him as a very strong practice squad candidate.


Do you think Parnell Motley makes the team in 2021?

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