Broncos' Bold Plan for Rookie Third-Round CB Michael Ojemudia Revealed by Insider

Nick Kendell

The brunt of the 2020 NFL offseason is over. Rosters are set, for the most part, for the upcoming season. However, as is always the case, there are potential moves that teams may make between now and the beginning of the regular season — whenever that will be.

The Denver Broncos are no exception. GM John Elway and the Broncos’ staff improved the overall roster and depth chart heading into the 2020 season, giving Denver their best chance to finish above .500 and make the playoffs since the team won Super Bowl 50. The roster is improved but a quick look over the Broncos’ depth chart reveals a few areas of concern.

The offensive tackle position is the one that many folks will point to and gasp. With the Broncos’ declining the fifth-year option of Garett Bolles, who now enters the last year on his contract, and the injury unknowns that come with Ja’Wuan James at right tackle, the Broncos’ tackle woes are anything but a secret. 

Bump into someone on the street in downtown Denver and ask them about the Broncos’ 2020 chances and odds are they start lamenting about the offensive tackle position.

Unless that person was Broncos insider Mike Klis. In his recent piece for 9NEWS, Klis stated that cornerback, not offensive tackle, was a position he believed the Broncos’ were the most concerned with at this point int time: 

“I thought cornerback was a bigger need than offensive tackle because I think the Broncos had made their bed, so to speak, with Garett Bolles at left tackle and Ja’Wuan James at right tackle. And they are going to give Elijah Wilkinson a fair chance to beat out Bolles at left tackle during training camp."

Further, Klis would go on to discuss just how much the Broncos are excited about the addition of 77th overall selection Michael Ojemudia out of the University of Iowa:

“The Broncos liked Michael Ojemudia better than all the second-round corners as projected by the mocksters (Kristian Fulton, Trevon Diggs, and Jaylon Johnson come to mind as potential names here). The Broncos also knew they liked Ojemudia better than other teams, so they picked up Hamler in the second round and waited until their first of three third-round picks, No. 77 overall, to get the Hawkeye corner."

Klis would also go on to appear on Denver's 104.3 The FAN with Orlando Franklin and Sandy Clough and let slip an interesting nugget on exactly how the Broncos view Ojemudia fitting in.

What happens next for the Broncos in the draft? Don't miss out on any news and analysis! Take a second and sign up for our free newsletter and get breaking Broncos news delivered to your inbox daily!

State of the Secondary

This would mean, as things currently stand, in what has quickly become the prominent defensive package in today’s NFL in nickel, the Broncos would be starting Ojemudia along with A.J. Bouye on the boundary, with Callahan moving to the slot. 

Given the unique offseason and the state of the world and football currently, relying on a rookie to start out of the gate seems to be risky but if any duo could get that done it would be Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell.

While the Ojemudia hype coming from Dove Valley is definitely a welcoming sign given that the pick was probably one of the more chastised ones from the fanbase, this also probably speaks to the Broncos’ opinions on De'Vante Bausby.

Yes, the Broncos did retain Bausby and yes, in a very abbreviated stint, he flashed. However, many of these moves and the rhetoric coming from insiders point to the notion that the Broncos’ brass is not planning on relying on Bausby to be a large contributor for the defense if possible.

There are a multitude of questions surrounding the Broncos’ secondary. Who will be the main starters for the Broncos’ at cornerback outside of Bouye? Can Ojemudia hang on the boundary? Is Callahan healthy enough to take the field? These questions and uncertainty may spur action by the Broncos.

CB Options Abound

There are still a number of players available on the market at cornerback that, according to Klis, the Broncos may target if they feel insecure about their secondary. Prince Amukamara, Logan Ryan, Eli Apple, Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard are a few of the many that come to mind and make sense, depending on if Denver is looking for a boundary or slot cornerback. 

The Broncos will likely want to see what they have in place first before making any big moves, but no one should be surprised if Elway makes a deal just to add depth and security to the back end of the defense.

Perhaps a sleeper option to help negate some of the secondary concerns in Denver is third-year safety Trey Marshall. Marshall played a chunk of special teams snaps last year and even replaced Kareem Jackson in the final two games of the year after Jackson was suspended due to a DUI.

In a recent interview, Jackson was asked about Marshall was ready to take the next step and contribute to the defense.

“I think he is. With me being out those last two games, I think he stepped in. I think he did some good stuff," Jackson said on Tuesday. "I think he showed some signs. With him playing the way he did those two games, that would probably be the reason we didn’t sign or draft anybody."

The Takeaway

The moves the Broncos have made, along with the likely improvement and growth of the numerous young players on the team, gives the Broncos’ a real shot to make the playoffs in 2020. However, while the team has improved, the roster isn’t Super Bowl-caliber just yet. 

Many will point to OT and despair, but the secondary and CB situation is one of equal uncertainty. If Ojemudia is as good (and plug-and-play) as the brass seem to believe, and Callahan can be healthy and play a full season, the Broncos have a chance to roster a really good secondary in 2020. 

However, as it stands and until the season is closer, there are simply too many unknowns to feel great about the Broncos’ pass coverage on the backend of the defense.

With some cap space still available and insiders hinting as such, do not be surprised if Denver makes a move to help further strengthen the CB position, rather than OT, before the start of the regular season.

Follow Nick on Twitter @NickKendellMHH and @MileHighHuddle. 

THANKS FOR READING MILE HIGH HUDDLE
Register today or log in to access this premium article.
Comments (24)
No. 1-18
BobMorris
BobMorris

It will be interesting to see how Michael Ojemudia comes along this season. Cornerback is a position at which sometimes it takes a while to get acclimated -- especially when quarterbacks target the rookie.

We shall see how he responds.

Erick   Trickel
Erick Trickel

Editor

I remember saying this and many people jumping on me about it. Ojemudia has the traits and is far enough along to start day one so no surprise he will get that chance.

Thomas Hall
Thomas Hall

A very risky proposition. Since 1998 only 18% of first year DBs have been above the position average in Performance Value. The odds aren't good. If he plays below average, it will be a weak link in the secondary

CheeseCurd20
CheeseCurd20

If I was Fangio, I would make Ojemudia cover Hamler in practice. If he holds his own then I think we have our guy to go up against Ruggs and Hill. I hope Strnad pans out so he can potentially cover Kelce.

smilinassassin
smilinassassin

So Nick, you’re a Hawkeye. What are your feelings on those statements after watching him the past few years?

Luke  Patterson
Luke Patterson

Nice work Nick. I expected as much you being the Iowa nut and all lol. The selection of Ojemudia was hands down a Vic Fangio pick! Rookie CB's are going to feel a lot of growing pains often and early. BUT, I want to see how this rookie does after getting beat. Can he respond in a manner that will produce results and turnovers? Or will he shut down in similar ways to CB Isaac Yiadom loosing confidence?

BeGoodBroncos
BeGoodBroncos

Good read as usual :)

Duke Dawson and Bausby and Yadiom will have something to say too. I wouldn't discount them, not saying you are, but
Fangio scheme may take a bit to figure out. We did go 0-4 last year GD it :)

to start that is :)

Oh yea, off topic what do you think of Brock Purdy ? :)

Dick Hanky
Dick Hanky

They better sign a FA CB or two. Seems nobody has faith in Bausby, but he played well for the most part. The others didn't look very promising. If their plan is starting Callahan and a rookie at CB day 1, yikes. Who knows if Callahan will play again. I'll believe it when I see it. Same with James. I think the new CB will be good, just maybe not right away. Ryan, Prince, Dennard,etc. Plenty of guys out there.

DRWard
DRWard

Hopefully, the Miller, Chubb, Casey & Harris pass rush makes our secondary look great.

Jefffrey55
Jefffrey55

Waivers might have a good CB vet for cheap. Plenty of depth at the CB position.

jareal333
jareal333

I hope he works out. I don't have much faith in Elway draft picks.

jones0024
jones0024

Loved the Ojemudia pick for this defense. Glad to hear Marshall is coming along, but I still really like the idea of Yiadom at safety as well. He's a little stiff at corner, but you can't deny the raw talent, intellect, and character. At safety he could reinvent himself with the plays out in front of him where he can read and react with that natural ability. Could be an excellent replacement for Parks if he takes to it. Thoughts?

KeithCummings
KeithCummings

The side deal is if they see him fitting in immediately callahan becomes a slot corner and they can spend the last portion of the salary cap money elsewhere.

Kebby77
Kebby77

Ok but we still depth ar CB. We may not have a legitimate starter yet but we have depth with Dawson ,bausby, etc.
What depth do we have behind our already lackluster starting tackles? Oh , wilkenson. That's pretty much it right now.

Gimmemy8iron
Gimmemy8iron

I think everyone is too quick to discount Yiadom. Now with a different group he may stumble again. But with a year of Fangio and Donatell under his belt I expect Yiadom to be better and someone the Broncos will trust.

Gimmemy8iron
Gimmemy8iron

Oh and Bassey! Don't rule this young man out!

Grapplerr87
Grapplerr87

Very interesting the coaching staff saw Ojemudia as a higher prospect than the ones listed. I do like what I see and believe his skill set will fit Fangio's defense, but I'm sceptical about him coming in first year and start, and do a good job. I'm hopeful, but a bit doubtful, so I hope Busby, Dawson, or Yiadom will step up and make Ojemudia's transition easier by stepping up and being the #2 corner.

Mr. Pioneer
Mr. Pioneer

I'm definitely not a Yiadom fan. Give Ojemudia an opportunity and bring in a vet for depth. Let Yiadom go.


News

FEATURED
COMMUNITY