When the Broncos drafted Bradley Roby in the first round of the draft back in May, it was widely assumed he’d replace Kayvon Webster in the starting lineup and play outside in nickel packages with Chris Harris in the slot and Aqib Talib on the other side.
Not so fast.
Webster, as of Wednesday’s open practice at Sports Authority Field in the pouring rain, is the Broncos’ #2 cornerback with Harris working his way back from the ACL surgery. And he’s not just being handed that job, he’s running away with it.
Aside from linebacker Lerentee McCray, Webster was the most impressive defensive player for the Broncos at practice in my opinion, and flashed some improvements in areas that are going to be huge assets in the Broncos’ secondary that weren’t there last year.
Learning on the job as a rookie, Webster showed he had the ability to be a good NFL cornerback. He is very fast, hits hard, plays aggressively, and is physical with receivers. He injured his thumb and wasn’t the same player after that, and had a memorably unfortunate performance against the Chargers on Thursday Night Football, but in all it was a strong rookie season from a guy many didn’t even expect to be drafted.
Now in his second year with the Broncos, Webster is earning high praise, even from veteran players. He and Aqib Talib seem to have hit it off really well. I noticed at practice they had a celebration with each other after every big play the other made, including a really nice interception by Webster in the 2-minute drill near the end of practice.
But it’s Talib who is looking to Webster to find comfortability in the Broncos’ defense. Here’s a really interesting quote from DenverBroncos.com analyst Andrew Mason’s practice report:
“Every day, I check him (Webster) out on film,” Talib said. “I look at myself, and then I go out and look at him. He definitely looks comfortable.”
Webster himself said he’s much more relaxed out there on the field now compared to a year ago, and understandably so. But for a Broncos defensive unit that desperately needs improvement in all areas, it appears as though they’ve got it in spades and Webster’s emergence on the back end is only going to be more icing on the cake.
There were numerous times in practice on Wednesday when Webster was dominant. He was tasked in 1-on-1 drills with covering Wes Welker. He shut him down a time or two before Welker got the better of him, but he also had a sack and the big interception in the 2-minute drill.
I think Webster is going to have a huge role in 2014, and fully expect him to be the #2 corner opposite Talib when Chris Harris moves inside to play the nickel cornerback position.