According to 9NEWS Denver’s Mike Klis, the Denver Broncos have signed rookie safety JL Skinner to a four-year deal. The Broncos selected the big safety in the sixth round after he slid down the boards due to injury. Now the former Boise State Bronco is now officially a member of the Denver Broncos.
Per Klis, the total value of Skinner’s four-year deal was slotted in at $4.036 million dollars, according to Spotrac, which included a $196,219 signing bonus
All these deals are a formality, but Skinner is the Broncos' second rookie to agree to terms with the Broncos this week. I would expect all of the team's rookie class to be signed ahead of their mini-camp happening this weekend.
Skinner played a total of four seasons at Boise State and was a productive member of their defense. During those four seasons, Skinner totaled 208 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 7 interceptions, 12 pass deflections, and 2 forced fumbles. This past season, he totaled 65 tackles, 0.5 tackles for a loss, 4 interceptions, and 5 pass deflections.
J.L. Skinner is a 6’4”, 209-pound safety out of Boise State who is joining the Denver Broncos in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL Draft. The Athletic’s draft analyst Dane Brugler had Skinner ranked as his sixth-best safety in the draft and his 92nd overall player in the draft while having a 3rd to 4th round grade on him. So, the Broncos got some pretty good value here according to Brugler.
A three-year starter at Boise State, Skinner was the boundary safety in defensive coordinator Spencer Danielson’s 4-2-5 base scheme. With his hybrid skill set, he would often line up in the box while also showing his range in the post and seeing snaps in the slot. Skinner is a long-striding athlete with cover range versus both the run and pass because of his unique size (not many safeties have an identical body type to AJ Green). His eyes and coverage angles need to be more disciplined, but he doesn’t waste the interception opportunities created by his large catch radius. Overall, Skinner needs to improve his anticipation and tighten up his take-on and tackling, but he is a glider with the physical toughness to play in the box and range to cover tight ends. He fits best as a nickel safety or low-hole player with the upside of an NFL starter.
So, why did the Broncos draft JL Skinner? GM General Manager mentioned his size, athleticism, and ball skills, while also mentioning how fortunate they were for being able to draft him where they did. If Skinner did not suffer that pectoral injury, he likely would have been a third or fourth-round selection.
“We liked him throughout the process. The first thing you see is the size. He’s almost 6’4’. Then the athletic ability for that size. We thought was unique. The short-area quickness, the range and you see the ball skills on tape. The thing that really sticks out is his physicality and playing downhill the run game. You see that all over the tape. He’s a fun watch. [Head Coach] Sean [Payton] and I have watched a lot of tape on him, and he’s a fun watch. I think the injury did impact where he was drafted. We felt very fortunate to get him where we did.”
Now, Skinner joins a pretty deep safety group with the Broncos and faces some stiff competition if he wants to see some playing time during his rookie year. You have All-Pro safety Justin Simmons locked in as a starter with recently re-signed veteran Kareem Jackson and Caden Sterns likely battling for that other starting spot. After that, you have P.J. Locke who has established himself as a key special teams player who has been reliable on defense, and 2022 draft pick, Delarrin-Turner Yell. Skinner will first need to get healthy to even start competing, but it will be interesting to see how this unit shakes out over the summer.
Skinner has a great combination of size, speed, length, and athleticism while also putting together some solid tape. If healthy, Skinner likely would have gone on day two of the draft, or sometime early on day three, so the Broncos got themselves a solid value pick here. I am excited to see what Skinner can do in a Broncos uniform moving forward.