The Denver Broncos should give Jeff Holland a legitimate shot to prove himself against the Cincinnati Bengals and a young quarterback.
For the first 11 weeks of the season, the Denver Broncos have had a diamond in the rough in Jeff Holland sitting on the practice squad.
We wrote about how much Holland reminds us of Shaquil Barrett, down to his measurables and pre-NFL Draft athleticism numbers.
As a matter of fact, Holland’s journey to the active roster is reminiscent of Barrett’s in 2014 as well. Ironically, Barrett is the reason Holland is on the roster as he suffered a hip injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Regardless of the circumstances leading to Holland being added to the active roster for the first time this season, it’s a blessing in disguise for the Broncos who now get to dress one of their most talented pass rushers.
In his final season at Auburn, Holland was part of one of the most talented and deep defensive fronts in the country. He racked up 9.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss, and four forced fumbles for the Tigers playing that strongside edge position, primarily.
Though the Broncos can move guys around their formation, that weakside position is one typically occupied by Von Miller.
Miller has taken the lion’s share of snaps off the left edge while Bradley Chubb has taken the most on the right side. Shane Ray’s reps have been split almost down the middle between the right or left side, and Shaquil Barrett’s reps lean heavily toward the right side.
It stands to reason based on the position he played in college that Holland would take over the relief duties on the left side while Shane Ray will take over primarily off the right edge, where he is more effective on a per snap basis anyway.
Holland is not an elite edge bender like Von Miller, though almost no one else in the NFL is. Holland showed some solid instincts and closing speed at Auburn while also proving to be very opportunistic. He is capable of cleaning up the dirty work of other players and not only cleaning up, but creating turnovers.
That’s something the Broncos will highly covet from Holland in the reps he’s given against the Cincinnati Bengals, where he will be going up against a relatively patchwork offensive line with a backup quarterback in Jeff Driskel.
Holland will have to defend against some run-pass option plays when he’s on the field but if he’s able to pin his ears back and get after the quarterback, he may make a big splash in his NFL debut.