When the Denver Broncos pulled the trigger on drafting Ohio State cornerback, Bradley Roby, back in May, many people assumed he’d immediately step in as the team’s nickel corner.
And for good reason. Being drafted in the 1st round comes with expectations. Teams and fans, expect such a player to contribute immediately.
Although Roby is a tremendous talent and has all the natural athleticism in the world, the speed of the game, technique and the mental side of assimilating to the NFL, all come with a learning curve. The depth and duration of that learning curve is dependent on the individual player.
So far, Roby has had an up and down training camp. He’s shown flashes of brilliance, but he’s also displayed the typical foibles of a rookie learning the NFL game.
Roby’s biggest competition for the nickel role has been Kayvon Webster, a 2nd year CB out of the University of South Florida. He seems to have really turned the corner in his development as a defensive back.
Aug 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby (29) leaves the field following the win over the Seattle Seahawks during preseason game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Seahawks 21-16. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
When the Broncos selected Webster in the 3rd round last year, they didn’t expect the rookie to see a lot of playing time with the first-team defense. But the injury bug is no respecter of persons.
When Champ Bailey went down with a foot injury, it thrust Webster into the fire early and often. Throughout weeks 1-7, Webster performed surprisingly well.
Via PFF, he graded out positively 4 out of the 7 weeks, his best games coming in weeks 6 and 7, with a +2.1 overall grade in both outings, respectively.
But as the Broncos got deeper into the season, they saw better quarterback play out of the opposition. Tom Brady, Alex Smith and especially Phillip Rivers targeted the young, inexperienced player and did their best to exploit him.
Webster had some rough moments, but for the most part, he held his own. It didn’t help that he was fighting through a thumb injury.
On the season, Webster saw a total of 487 snaps and earned an overall grade of -3.5. Overall, his rookie performance was encouraging.
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With starting CB, Chris Harris, Jr, being limited throughout all of training camp and preseason action, someone had to fill the void as the Broncos’ #2 CB. Webster has been that player.
Webster has heretofore garnered some rave reviews and it looks like he’s acclimated to the speed of the game. The School of Hard Knocks seems to have produced another smashing graduate in Kayvon Webster.
Now that training camp has come to a close, and as we get closer to September 7th, when the games begin to count for the Broncos, the CB triumvirate in the nickel sub-package will take shape. If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on Webster holding down that 3rd spot, next to Harris and Aqib Talib.