The Denver Broncos have shown a willingness to bet on talent in the past. Could Craig Mager come through and find a role late in 2018?
The Denver Broncos had to make the unfortunate decision to place cornerback Chris Harris Jr. on injured reserve, which is unfortunate for a couple of reasons.
First of all, it’s unfortunate that Harris was hurt in the first place, but he was progressing to the point that he probably could have re-joined his teammates on the field soon. It’s also unfortunate because the only reason the Broncos are shutting him down and not rushing him back to the field is that they are no longer in playoff contention.
With Harris moving to injured reserve, the Broncos are signing veteran Craig Mager, a former 2015 third-round draft pick out of Texas State.
Mager was selected by the (then) San Diego Chargers with the 83rd overall pick in the same draft they took Melvin Gordon and Denzel Perryman.
It’s safe to say Mager was the weak link among those top 100 picks for the Chargers that year.
He saw his most action from 2015-16 and had a career-high 23 tackles and an interception in 2016. He also recovered a fumble in the Chargers’ win against the Broncos that year.
Mager was an exceptional athlete coming out of college but struggled to acclimate himself to the NFL game. He played just one snap for the Chargers in 2017, has struggled with injuries, and has been unable to make enough plays to stand out.
The Chargers were working to develop him as much as they could without severing ties as he was a very high draft choice. Mager ended up on the team’s practice squad in 2017 and faced a ‘do or die’ situation of sorts in camp during the 2018 offseason.
He was placed on injured reserve and then was released from IR with an injury settlement.
The Chargers were unable to unlock Mager’s potential, though they certainly spent a lot of time believing they could see him at his best.
He hasn’t played football this year and will certainly have to shake off the rust in short order if the Broncos are going to get a career revival out of him.
Mager is not the first player the Broncos have given a chance to prove they can live up to lofty draft status. The team also signed Jamar Taylor recently to help in the secondary (former second-round pick) and they had Shamarko Thomas — a relatively high fourth-round pick — on the roster a good portion of the season.
With all of the injuries the Broncos have suffered in the secondary this year, it would be great to see a player like Mager or Taylor step up and perhaps earn a role going forward. The Broncos are going to have a need at cornerback this offseason and if these guys can show potential and playmaking ability, that would be a huge bonus going into the offseason.