Versatility is king in the modern NFL, and no position on the Fangio defense is asked to wear as many hats as his safeties. Typically beginning a play out of a two high shell, a Broncos’ safety may need to spin down to add a hat to the box to help in run defense, or he may have to follow a receiver in motion across the formation, or perhaps he stays deep and picks up the second vertical threat.
You get the idea.
The importance of safeties in the Fangio defense made solidifying depth a clear need this offseason, and George Paton doubled down by drafting two safeties in the fifth round of his first draft. Kareem Jackson’s age and contract status make his future in orange and blue an uncertain affair, so it made sense to bring in youth to compete for the opportunity to succeed him. After six practices it’s clear Caden Sterns is doing his part to make an impression on Vic Fangio.
I find it very encouraging for Sterns to receive praise for his work ethic and processing, specifically, as his athletic ability was never in question. He was the top overall recruit from the state of Texas in his high school class and he tested extremely well before the draft.
A two way standout at Steele High School, it didn’t take long for Sterns to make an impact with the Texas Longhorns. He found his way into the starting lineup his first year on campus and won first-team All-Big 12 and conference Defensive Freshman of the Year after he led the defense with four interceptions to go four pass breakups, a sack and 62 tackles.
Injuries haunted Sterns’ last two years in Austin, which helped play a role in his fall to the 152nd pick of the draft. Let there be no doubt, though, if he can stay healthy and pick up at the Broncos’ defense as early signs suggest, he could become a steal.
To get a better idea as to what Sterns brings to the Broncos, I reached out to his high school coach Adam Harvey.
1st and 10
It’s pretty clear Sterns was a special athlete from a very early age. What was it like getting to coach him? Did you always know he had pro potential?
Coach Harvey: He was a gem to coach. I would say one in a lifetime but I was fortunate enough to have several at Steele HS. Caden was the first of two 5 star DBs I coached but was the pioneer of what became DBHS (play on DBU for Defensive Back High School). Caden’s drive just made him special and that was the most fun for me to coach. I knew he had potential to play this game at a high level the moment I met him. My favorite thing about Caden was the way he approached the game. While he was extremely talented, it was his work ethic and love for the game that separated him.
2nd and 8
Any fun stories from your time together?
Coach Harvey: There was never a dull moment with Caden around. Several fun stories happened throughout my time with him. The one that sticks out the most actually was off the field. He came over to my house to play dart guns with my sons. He always knew how to make people feel like a million bucks. He has a way with people.
As for football, my favorite memory of Caden was his junior year when we started our backup QB against our district rival. Caden had a phenomenal night and one that was capped off by a pick 6 in which he made an unbelievable play to pick it and then return it for a score.
3rd and 3
One thing I noticed when I looked into his scouting reports is how Sterns did so much. On top of defense he caught passes, returned kicks, and even ran track. Is that pretty typical at Steele?
Coach Harvey: Yes. He was special. Just an absolute playmaker so we had to find ways to get the ball in his hands. We had several student/athletes run track, but not many played two ways and competed the way Caden did. His talent was in the upper echelon, but his drive was unmatched. That’s why he could do (and did) so much.
Caden Sterns is a FS prospect in the 2021 draft class. He scored a 9.59 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 33 out of 772 FS from 1987 to 2021. https://t.co/8n9pBveV66 #RAS via @Mathbomb pic.twitter.com/7PwHV9AqAk— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 16, 2021
4th and inches
Sometimes it’s easy for those of us on the outside to take for granted the man behind the facemask. Who is Caden Sterns off the field?
Coach Harvey: Genuine! The kind of guy that will do right by others for the sake of others. He does nothing for personal clout. He is one who knows his convictions and will fight tooth and nail for the things believes and for the people he loves.