The Denver Broncos have made some serious changes to their cornerback room since the 2019 season ended. Gone is Chris Harris, Jr. and in his place is ex-Jaguar A.J. Bouye.
Last year, the Broncos started a who's-who of former Day 2 and 3 reclamation projects after Bryce Callahan failed to see the field and De'Vante Bausby suffered a season-ending neck injury. The expectation was that GM John Elway would work to seriously upgrade the depth chart during this offseason.
With the NFL Draft now in the books, the Broncos did add one cornerback — Iowa's Michael Ojemudia — but it wasn't until the third round. Taking a look at the depth chart — which looks something like 1. Bouye 2. Callahan 3. Bausby 4. Ojemudia 5. Isaac Yiadom 6. Davontae Harris 7. Duke Dawson — it's a position group that is vastly unproven.
Head coach Vic Fangio, however, doesn't appear to be concerned about it. Fangio was tickled to land Ojemudia — an excellent scheme fit and high football IQ DB — but he's counting on guys like Bausby, Yiadom, Harris and Dawson to pull their weight in 2020 and elevate their game.
“I feel good," Fangio said on Saturday following Day 3 of the draft. "We have a bunch of young players that we acquired last year like Duke Dawson and [Davontae] Harris. Those guys all need to develop. They are at that stage where they need to prove whether they are worthy or not to play in the NFL and I think two of those guys will come through."
Fangio also reminded fans that Callahan is fully expected to bounce back off of injured reserve.
"We have Callahan coming off of the IR list, so we’ll have a good group to play with," Fangio said.
Young teams need their young core to contribute. Fans saw it happen in 2011 when Elway took over as Denver's top football executive. It was essentially a rebuild that relied heavily on the team's 2010 and 2011 draft classes. Young guys had to step up.
And they did. From Von Miller, to Demaryius Thomas, to Eric Decker, to Chris Harris, Jr., to Tim Tebow, to Orlando Franklin, to J.D. Walton, to even Rahim Moore — the young guys more than carried their weight and were arguably the biggest reason the Broncos won seven of their final 10 games and a playoff game.
Fangio is alluding to the same in 2020. If the Broncos are going to turn the ship around, and if the secondary is going to take the next step and gel, the young fellas are going to have to be the impetus. It can't be left up to the Millers and Jurrell Caseys of the team because those caliber of players are not only getting longer in the tooth but are few and far between. This is a very young roster.
Will Fangio's relative confidence in the depth of his cornerback class be affirmed? Only time will tell. Fangio is banking on two of those depth guys taking a quantum leap forward.
I'd love to know which two Fangio was speaking to but if I had to guess, I'd say it was Bausby and Yiadom. If those two show development, if Ojemudia hits the ground running, and if Callahan suffers no setbacks, the Broncos could really have an exciting, young cornerback room.
But those are a lot of 'ifs'.