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Broncos roster review: Cornerback Bless Austin

How much of an impact could the late free agent add bring to the Broncos’ defense in 2022?

NFL: DEC 12 Seahawks at Texans Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Russell Wilson wasn’t the only former Seahawk to head to Denver this offseason, though Bless Austin certainly didn’t receive anywhere close to the same amount of fanfare. However, there’s a path forward for Austin to be a pretty solid contributor for the Broncos in 2022.

#38 Blessaun Austin

Height: 6’1
Weight: 198 lbs
Position: Cornerback
College: Rutgers
Experience: 4 years

How he fits with the Broncos in 2022

Austin is the ideal depth corner for Denver this season. He’ll likely be a rotational player on the boundary, rotating in with Ronald Darby and Michael Ojemudia. Austin has over a thousand snaps playing boundary corner, and while he has slot experience, he’s much better suited to play outside.

He’s already familiar with the scheme, given just how similar Seattle’s defense was last season to the Fangio-esque defense we’ll be seeing with the Broncos this season under Ejiro Evero. While he only played in four games for Seattle last season, his tape held up well (despite his PFF coverage grade), and it’s easy to see why Paton signed him to add to the team.

Austin is much better suited for zone coverage than man. With his length, twitch, and instincts, he’s a natural in zone coverage and surprise, surprise, he was in zone 64% of the time with Seattle. The Rams rarely played true man-to-man coverage and I’m expecting Evero to bring that with him to Denver.

At the time he was signed, I thought he had a shot at overtaking Ojemudia in terms of playing time. Ojemudia hasn’t done much of anything in the NFL, and Austin is already experienced and productive. The Broncos also drafted two corners in Damarri Mathis and Faion Hicks, but Mathis is competing inside with K’Waun Williams at the nickel spot and I’m not expecting Hicks to be getting enough playing time on defense to truly compete.

Austin also has experience on special teams with both the Jets and Seahawks, mainly on kick returns. While it’s not much, it’s enough to justify him sticking on the final 53-man roster.

Final Word

While I’m certainly not expecting a Pro Bowl type of season out of Bless Austin, I believe he has the talent to be a productive defensive back for the Denver Broncos in 2022. If he proves he can stay healthy, he should receive a significant chunk of the reps left behind by Kyle Fuller’s departure as an outside corner. While I’m not sure he’ll outright win the CB3 job behind Surtain and Darby, he’ll certainly be in the running for that job.