Who will be the secondary rotation for base, nickel, and dime formations?
Answered by: Andrew Wade
The beauty and the curse of this year’s Denver Broncos secondary is that they are an incredibly versatile bunch, which is great for when it matters, but tough for predicting exactly who will be playing and where.
However, what happened during OTAs and where the money is being spent can certainly give us an indication.
Let’s start with the easiest formation, the base 3-4 formation.
In this, Chris Harris Jr. and Bryce Callahan will likely be the starters at the cornerback position with Kareem Jackson taking over the free safety spot and Justin Simmons sliding back over into the strong safety spot (the same spot he occupied when Darian Stewart was in Denver).
This makes sense for a few reasons. First, you want your best secondary players on the field, and I firmly believe Harris Jr, Callahan, Jackson, and Simmons are the four best guys the Denver Broncos have in the secondary (plus the money also says that as well).
Jackson, a lifelong corner, moved to safety last year, so this fit makes sense there and although Callahan did most of his damage from the slot last season, playing outside should be a welcomed opportunity giving him the sideline as another defender.
In passing situations, it gets a bit more complicated, and it will undoubtedly change throughout the season based on different situations and how each of these guys progress in their first year in Ed Donatell’s defense.
Harris has made a living being one of the best slot corners in the NFL, but he wants to stick outside, and I think the Broncos will oblige now that they have arguably the best up and coming slot corner in Bryce Callahan on the team as well.
Callahan will man the slot, and Jackson will slide down to play the other outside corner spot. Justin Simmons will slide over into a more natural free safety spot and Will Parks will come in as the strong safety.
There are a few variations of this at the strong safety position, most notably with Su’a Cravens, depending on how he performs in camp, but Parks really stepped up his play last year.
The dime package is what will be an interesting storyline in camp. The guys mentioned above will be on the field, but who will be the 6th defensive back on the field, and who’s playing the other slot role? Again, I stress that versatility is the key here and who lines up where will likely depend on the matchup, but here’s what I think will happen.
Harris will stay outside and Isaac Yiadom, the second-year corner out of Boston College, will be the other outside guy. Callahan will stay in the slot and Jackson will slide into play the other slot. He was working there in camp, so it makes sense.
Also keep in mind, in today’s NFL, offenses oftentimes move their best receivers to this spot so we could see Harris moving around a bit too to lock down the opponents’ best offensive weapon.
At safety, I again think it will be Simmons and Parks, but a variation of the dime could see Simmons be the 4th corner with Parks and either Cravens or Dymonte Thomas manning the other safety spot.