The Denver Broncos had no choice but to demote two recent third-round cornerbacks in rookie Isaac Yiadom and second-year pro Brendan Langley.
The Denver Broncos made the pretty unpopular decision this offseason to part ways with veteran cornerback Aqib Talib.
Talib signed with the team in 2014 on a six-year contract, though the deal was essentially only guaranteed for four years (and even then, just on a year-by-year basis). The Broncos were willing to meet Talib in the middle with a hefty contract that included a bunch of guaranteed money, but Talib had to stay out of trouble off the field.
Though there were some questionable moments in those four years, Talib was mostly great for the Broncos, especially on the field.
As great as Talib was on the field, the time had come for the Broncos to move on financially (facing a $12 million cap hit in 2018) and they traded their star cornerback to the Los Angeles Rams for a fifth-round draft pick.
The Broncos didn’t have an immediate succession plan on their roster other than former first-round cornerback Bradley Roby. The only issue with this type of succession plan compared to others is that the Broncos had found a way for three top-flight cornerbacks to co-exist within the same defense and excel together as one entity, not separate as individual entities.
Therefore, bumping Roby up into Talib’s spot created another hole on the depth chart.
That hole was addressed (somewhat) a year ago when the Broncos drafted Brendan Langley in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Langley was a converted wide receiver at Georgia who transferred to Lamar Universtiy to finish out his college career. He’s still pretty new to the position, but the team hoped he could take a leap in 2018.
Not banking entirely on Langley taking the leap, the Broncos signed veteran Tramaine Brock, who played a handful of snaps a season ago with the Minnesota Vikings. They also used another third-round pick on Boston College’s Isaac Yiadom.
Between Brock, Langley, and Yiadom, the team expected something to work out for this season.
The team would obviously prefer high draft selections to be able to play sooner rather than later, but after the Broncos had seemingly given Yiadom and Langley a golden opportunity to seize a prominent role on this very talented defense, both players were demoted.
Even with Tramaine Brock suffering an injury keeping him out of the early portion of camp, preseason games proved to be very valuable evaluation tools as the Broncos were forced to bring in veteran Adam Jones to provide some reliable depth in the secondary.
According to Pro Football Focus, here’s a breakdown of passes thrown into Yiadom’s and Langley’s coverage over the course of four preseason games:
Isaac Yiadom: 17 targets, 13 receptions (76.5 percent), 126 yards (9.7 yards per reception), three touchdowns, two penalties
Brendan Langley: Seven targets, five receptions (71.4 percent), 75 yards (15 yards per reception), no touchdowns, no penalties
Neither player had any interceptions, either.
Yiadom, despite giving up three touchdowns, was actually in good position on more of his plays than Langley, he just failed to finish those plays.
As a result of their poor preseason play, Yiadom has been dropped to fifth on the Broncos’ depth chart and Langley was waived at final cuts and placed on the team’s practice squad, despite showing well in the preseason on special teams.
Hopefully the Broncos will be able to get Yiadom on the field in some cleanup duty at some point this season just to continue getting some in-game reps so he isn’t on ice for the whole season, but it’s clear at this point that neither of these young players are ready for the rigors of covering receivers man-up in the NFL right now.
The Broncos will have to afford them some very necessary time to develop.
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