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Broncos 2019 Training Camp Preview: cornerbacks

(Photograph by Justin Edmonds/Getty Pictures)

The Denver Broncos need to get again to their profitable ways in 2019. They’ve utterly revamped the roster with the hopes that this mix of players makes a run on the postseason — or at the very least performs .500 or higher football.

This roster is filled with gifted players on each side of the ball, however there are questions that must be answered during training camp. In this collection, we’ll go through each position group looking for those answers.

Right now, we’ll take a deep dive on the cornerback position.

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Starters: Chris Harris Jr, Bryce Callahan

The Broncos have probably the greatest corners within the league nonetheless on the roster … for a minimum of yet one more yr. Additionally they went out in free company and picked up a gifted slot nook who is going to get a shot as an outdoor starter in 2019.

Chris Harris Jr. is likely one of the greatest cornerbacks within the recreation at this time. Everyone is aware of the story of how Denver found Harris as an undrafted free agent out of Kansas in 2011. He’s been a star player for the Broncos for years, whether or not it was outdoors or inside as a slot nook.

It’s been a pleasure watching Harris turn into the most effective at his place, and he might very nicely be on a path that someday leads him to the Professional Football Hall of Fame.

So why may 2019 be his last yr with Denver?

Earlier this yr, before the draft, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Harris needed either a new contract or to be traded away. This constructed up in the course of the offseason, mainly highlighted by common supervisor John Elway saying that he would solely get to Harris and his contract after the draft. He stated that on the Scouting Mix and was somewhat defiant in his tone, including in a press convention that the Broncos would take a look at extending Harris however that didn’t mean they might do it.

They didn’t prolong Harris, but as an alternative gave him a increase for the 2019 season. The Broncos bumped his compensation from $8.9 million to slightly over $12 million. They didn’t come to a long-term settlement but did try to make Harris proud of a increase. Meaning Harris might play good football this yr as he has for most all of his profession, then walk away as an unrestricted free agent in 2020.

Perhaps Denver feels time is operating out for Harris. He played in 13 games last season, however a broken leg knocked him out down the stretch. Harris did get well in time to play within the Pro Bowl in early 2019 and appeared like his previous self throughout obligatory minicamp.

The Broncos are taking a real probability right here with Harris. There’s no cause to assume he gained’t play at a high degree in 2019, and it might be harder to signal him to a brand new contract if he’s tempted by the allure of free company.

Bryce Callahan was a star slot corner for Vic Fangio and the Chicago Bears final yr. That talent set and experience with Fangio prompted the Broncos to exit in free company and sign Callahan to a three-year, $21 million contract. He played in only 13 video games in 2018, as a foot damage landed him on injured reserve.

Denver had to be ok with his health standing to offer him that sort of deal, and Callahan has been recovering from his broken foot for months, but he must be 100 % for coaching camp.

Callahan has great method as a corner. He’s not an enormous nook, measuring in at only 5-foot-9, 185 kilos, so Callahan has to get by with guile and velocity.

He’s not fooled by play-fakes and does a very good job of studying the person he’s masking. His football intelligence is excessive, and Callahan knows the small things to search for when breaking down a potential route for a large receiver.

Undrafted out of Rice in 2015, Callahan has by no means performed a full 16-game season as a pro. That’s something that should change now that he’s with the Broncos.

The Bears placed an original-round tender on him in 2018, which means they have been prepared to lose him in free agency without compensation. He ended up staying with the Bears for another season and performed like a shutdown corner earlier than his damage.

Callahan goes to line up outdoors this yr opposite of Harris. He has velocity and is sensible, however his lack of measurement and damage history is a concern. If the Broncos go up towards a staff with giant beginning broad receivers (just like the Los Angeles Chargers), then Callahan might discover himself getting picked on typically.

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Reserves: Isaac Yiadom, De’Vante Bausby, Alijah Holder, Trey Johnson, Horace Richardson, Linden Stephens

One might instantly discover that Kareem Jackson is just not in this article breaking down the cornerbacks, regardless that he’s received “CB” subsequent to his identify on the staff’s official roster. Jackson goes to be within the security preview later this week as a result of that’s where he ought to principally play in 2019. The veteran nook has gotten most of his work at security this offseason, but he did get a small handful of snaps as a nickel corner in OTAs and minicamp.

This section is going to be concerning the reserve cornerbacks on the roster. The group is led by a potential starter in the future, a player from Fangio’s previous with expertise from a startup league, an undrafted free agent that was extremely wanted, a second-year professional coming off injured reserve for an additional group, a player poached off the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs apply squad last yr, and a participant on his third group getting into his second season.

Isaac Yiadom was a third-round decide for the Broncos in the 2018 NFL Draft. Coming out of Boston School, Yiadom was generally known as a participant with measurement, intelligence, and sound method as a corner.

Yiadom has lengthy arms and a large wingspan to knock passes away. He isn’t afraid to play close to the road of scrimmage and can get into the combination as a run defender. Yiadom stands out in protection and isn’t fooled by bait routes when enjoying zone protection, a talent that ought to actually help him underneath Fangio.

Throughout his rookie season, Yiadom played simply 263 snaps. He compiled 17 tackles, three assists, one interception, and three move breakups over the course of 13 video games. He mainly worked as a reserve nook, but there have been a couple of weeks (Week 13 and 14) where he played starter’s snaps for the Broncos.

There was a time throughout that stretch the place Yiadom confirmed off what he might ultimately be. In a Week 12 recreation towards the Steelers, Yiadom was challenged by Antonio Brown and did not back down. The truth is, Yiadom coated Brown nicely for the few snaps they have been matched up towards one another.

A shoulder damage robbed him of a couple of games during his rookie season. Yiadom did try to play with the damage within the remaining two weeks of the common season, but he didn’t look anything like he did pre-injury. Yiadom did have offseason shoulder surgical procedure and was restricted in OTAs and minicamp, however he is expected to be absolutely ready for coaching camp.

Yiadom will be the staff’s No. three cornerback in 2019, and he might move up the depth chart in 2020 relying on what happens with Harris.

De’Vante Bausby has labored with Fangio before. Undrafted out of Pittsburgh State in 2015 (Chiefs), Bausby spent two seasons with Fangio when he was the Bears defensive coordinator in 2015 and 2016.

When he was achieved with the Bears, Bausby went back to the Chiefs however did not make their remaining roster in 2017. He spent that season on the Philadelphia Eagles follow squad and even has a Super Bowl ring from his time with the workforce.

He then played within the now-defunct Alliance of American Soccer. During his time in the AAF, Bausby led the league in move breakups and interceptions (five) in seven games for the San Antonio Commanders. When the league folded, the Broncos signed the veteran to a contract.

Bausby’s recreation is all about velocity, velocity, and more velocity. That velocity will get him into position shortly and lets him stay with a few of the quickest receivers downfield. Fangio knows easy methods to get the most effective out of Bausby, but we’ll see if he’s discovered a couple of things in his time away from the veteran coach.

Alijah Holder was undrafted out of Stanford in 2019, however many teams have been interested by his providers as a university free agent — and for good purpose. Holder is huge (6-foot-1, 191 kilos) and bodily together with his enjoying type. He doesn’t again down from a challenge and loves to push around smaller opponents when the ball arrives.

Holder has a nose for the ball, as evidenced by his early school career and the best way he bounced again in 2018 with 59 tackles, 2.5 for loss, and 10 cross breakups. He performs nicely with the ball in front of him and isn’t afraid of contact. Holder also does a great job of flipping his hips and turning to cowl downfield routes. He’s not a quick corner, however his intelligence and guile assist him stick with the play.

If there’s an undrafted participant to make the 53-man roster in 2019, the perfect odds may be on Holder.

Trey Johnson was picked up by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent from Villanova in 2018. A shoulder damage in training camp that yr value him his complete rookie season, as Johnson stayed with the Steelers on their injured reserve record as a rookie.

He is smaller than a number of the other reserve cornerbacks on this record (185 pounds), but Johnson may be the fastest cornerback on the roster. At Villanova’s pro day, he recorded a 4.33-second 40-yard sprint and a 36-inch vertical leap. That velocity and explosive playmaking capability ought to be one thing that stands out in training camp.

Horace Richardson was stolen off the Chiefs follow squad in late December 2018. Undrafted out of SMU in 2017, Richardson spent a few season and a half with the Minnesota Vikings. After being released by the Vikings (for the final time) in October 2018, he bounced around between the Detroit Lions and the Chiefs for a few month. When he was on the Chiefs apply squad, the Broncos signed him away.

Richardson was a university teammate of beginning broad receiver Courtland Sutton and has an intriguing size-speed combination. He was banged up fairly a bit in school, enjoying only one full season in 2016. He picked off six passes that season and is understood for having a great nostril for the ball.

Maybe Richardson might earn a spot on the apply squad with the Broncos if he stays wholesome and exhibits off his soccer intelligence and diagnostic expertise in training camp and the preseason.

Linden Stephens is now on his third staff within the NFL. He was undrafted out of the University of Cincinnati in 2018 and was picked up by the New Orleans Saints. He lasted a number of months with the workforce but did not make the ultimate roster. He was waived by the Saints and then picked up by the Los Angeles Rams for a few month. After the Rams released him, the Broncos picked up Stephens around Thanksgiving, then signed him to a futures contract in late December.

Stephens has good measurement, measuring in at almost 6 ft and 195 pounds. I watched him carry out nicely through the week of apply for the East-West Shrine Recreation in 2018, primarily as a result of Stephens turned properly and was rather more athletic in individual than he was on tape. (He was principally a backup during his school profession for the Bearcats.)

The Broncos should like one thing about Stephens, and we’ll see if he can angle for a spot on the apply squad in 2019.

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Summary

The NFL is a pass-happy league, and the Broncos secondary goes to get tested early and sometimes in 2019. They’re especially going to get examined — from Week 1 — by the teams, and their high-powered offenses, in their very own division. Going up towards AFC West broad receivers like Antonio Brown (Raiders), Tyreek Hill (Chiefs), and Keenan Allen (Chargers), amongst others, goes to battle check this secondary in a number of the most essential games of the yr.

Harris goes to be up for the challenge in maybe his last season with the Broncos. He’s out to prove that he can nonetheless play at a excessive degree and, maybe, hit the open marketplace for the first time in his professional profession.

He’s been every little thing you need a Bronco to be, and 2019 could possibly be bittersweet watching him perform and figuring out it might be the last yr we see him in Denver.

Callahan has so much to show on the surface. Had the Broncos put him in the slot, then it will be a no brainer to undertaking him for nice success on this protection. Callahan has velocity and quickness to his recreation and must be up for the task, offered he’s not matched up towards larger receivers.

The backup cornerbacks are fascinating names with various talent units. Yiadom is the participant to observe, especially as a result of he could possibly be a No. 2 and even No. 1 corner for the Broncos someday. Seeing his progress, particularly in a Fangio defense, ought to be fun to observe.

Comply with @CecilLammey