The Denver Broncos have two great defensive backs that shouldn't need much of an introduction in Justin Simmons and Patrick Surtain II, but besides those two who else will be a difference maker on the defense this season?
I am certain Ronald Darby will be the second cornerback behind Surtain. Darby in eight seasons has 359 tackles, 87 passes defended, and eight interceptions. Coming into the season I had my questions about Darby and I can say that those questions have been answered.
Darby only played in 11 games last season for the Broncos and still overall had a solid season with 53 tackles and six passes defended.
During training camp head coach Nathaniel Hackett had good things to say about Darby, “It’s a pain going after him every day, but both of those corners are doing a great job. He’s a really smart [player]. He’s a veteran. He’s another guy that doesn’t panic and that plays his technique and challenges the guys.”
Darby will have a lot of expectations being the second cornerback and I am excited to see how he plays this season.
A new addition for the Broncos during the offseason. In K’Wuan Williams’ career he has 250 tackles, 24 passes defended, and two interceptions. Last season for the 49ers Williams had 52 tackles, three passes defended, and one interception.
Williams dealt with an injury early on during camp but has recently come back he said, “I’m feeling good to be back out here competing.” Williams is coming off a year where he had a PFF grade of 63.3, which is higher than Darby’s PFF grade.
I am interested to see Williams I think he will be our third cornerback and at worst our fourth.
Faion Hicks and Damarri Mathis
From the veterans to the rookies, Faion Hicks and Damarri Mathis have been impressive so far with adjusting to the NFL level and speed.
Mathis in his college career racked up 66 tackles, five interceptions, and had 18 passes defended. Hicks in his career with the Badgers had 85 tackles, one interception, and 16 passes defended.
Their expectations as rookies from Coach Hackett were “Just be confident and take your shots” Coach Hackett did mention that they did miss some opportunities during the preseason game vs the Bills but when their lining up against Stefon Diggs who is one of the top wide receivers in the NFL that they will miss some chances.
Veteran Cornerback Ronald Darby has had good impressions so far of Mathis, “He’s sticky, he’s physical and he flies around. He’s ready to work each day. He comes in and prepares, [so] he’s a really good player.”
So far from what we have seen in camp, the pair have been good, Mathis had an extremely good second week of camp as well.
The other veteran in the cornerback room Williams also had good things to say about the pair, “Those guys has progressed throughout the camp, they’re getting comfortable in terms of the scheme, in terms of the techniques, so I like to see their development so far in camp.
The sophomore player from Texas I think will be a name who will make a difference here in Denver. In his limited playing time last year, he was still very impressive, he had 28 tackles, three passes defended, and two interceptions.
On the defensive side of the ball, besides Dre’Mont Jones, I think Caden Sterns has the second best chance to have a breakout season.
Sterns has quietly had himself a very good camp so far. On his goals for the season Sterns said he doesn’t have any goals besides to get better as a player.
Another starter alongside Justin Simmons is Kareem Jackson, the most experienced member of the defensive back corp with 13 seasons under his belt. In those 13 seasons he has 807 tackles, 103 passes defended, and 20 interceptions. Jackson is entering his fourth year with the Broncos and he is coming off of a down year where he had 88 tackles and one pass break up and one interception. The hard hitter had built up a lot of chemistry between himself and Simmons, their communication on the field is great and off the field they are always together.
Jackson will be on the field as with Simmons and Sterns I believe, a part of me does believe that Jackson’s days as a Bronco are numbered with the addition of Delarrin Turner-Yell and Sterns since Jackson has been here and it is possible that Jackson’s age is catching up to him, I hope last season was just a down year for him though I want to see him bounce back and have a good year.
Overall the depth that the Broncos have has a lot to prove as the veterans have had injuries to deal with or they’ve had down years, and the young guys still have a lot to prove and cement themselves as players I believe that the Denver Broncos defensive backs will be solid but there is a lot that they need to show the NFL world, Justin Simmons and Patrick Surtain II have shown themselves to be the best at their positions but the rest have chips on their shoulder and something to prove.
It will be interesting to see how the other defensive backs adjust under the new coaching staff, but Ejiero Evero, who has worked with one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL Jalen Ramsey, has had good things to say about this group of players.