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