How bad do the Denver Broncos need a cornerback in the 2020 offseason? Maybe not as bad as everyone seems to think. We explore the idea.
The Denver Broncos have plenty of needs in the 2020 offseason, but as we look over the roster and try to determine how John Elway and the front office are going to attack free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft, the narrative may be changing a bit.
Initially, I had cornerback as the Broncos’ #3 priority this offseason behind offensive line and defensive line, but corner may now be moved to a couple of tiers below wide receiver in addition to those other two positions, simply looking over the roster and doing a bit of projecting going forward.
The Broncos may try to re-sign Chris Harris Jr. who is an impending unrestricted free agent, and for the right price they probably should do that, but what about the guys on this roster going into year two of playing in Vic Fangio’s defense?
Playing in Fangio’s defense is not easy.
Players alluded to this all throughout the offseason and even into the regular season, but Vic Fangio’s defense is not easy to just pick up on. We saw the chemistry improve for a number of players throughout the season, but there’s a reason the Broncos were hoping cornerback Bryce Callahan could be an on-field communicator for the team this past year.
There are a lot of moving parts to Fangio’s defense, which is why we didn’t just see guys like Duke Dawson immediately inserted into the lineup when the Broncos traded for him, or why Kareem Jackson wasn’t just able to immediately transition to the nickel position early in the season.
Simply put — the longer guys marinate in the Fangio defense, the better.
This doesn’t mean the Broncos should avoid free agents from other teams, but the guys who are already on the roster have a leg up on playing in the defense for a full season.
They should also be given the opportunity to prove they have grown. We won’t get to see them do anything on the football field before decisions have to be made in free agency and the draft, so the Broncos have to go off of what they saw on film last year.
Did they see enough from the likes of De’Vante Bausby, Davontae Harris, Isaac Yiadom, and Duke Dawson to believe those guys can be gameday contributors going forward?
I thought all four players showed some nice things on tape throughout the season, but the question is whether or not it was up to Vic Fangio’s standards. It’s reasonable to assume some growth, however, as these are young players who have shown some chops even if they were inconsistent this past season (most of them in their first or second year of actually playing).
One thing the Broncos have to be expecting from Fangio is player development. Not only should the Broncos have a healthy Bryce Callahan on the roster at cornerback, but they should also be able to count on at least one of the aforementioned four players — Bausby, Harris, Yiadom, and Dawson — to develop into a starter.
If the team can re-sign Will Parks to a reasonable contract to return as the primary nickel/slot defender, even better.
The cornerback position has gotten plenty of hype from Broncos fans when projecting free agent fits or NFL Draft fits, but I’m here to assert that taking a corner in the first couple of rounds of this year’s draft is borderline irresponsible for the Broncos based on the strengths of this class.
That doesn’t mean there are no scenarios where that is the right decision, it just means that — to me — there are a lot of better ones.
I think the Broncos already have plenty of talent on their roster at cornerback to move forward believing the young core is strong enough. They have Callahan coming back from injury. They could re-sign Chris Harris for the right price, but if he walks, I think they should look to short-term deal with a veteran player who can contribute and look to keep developing their young core.
Not only that, but the Broncos get Bradley Chubb back this year and they are poised to make some hefty investments in the defensive line in free agency (hopefully). Having a stout defensive front will make the secondary better, especially in this defensive scheme.
Develop the in-house talent, believe in that process, find a bargain in free agency, and look for upside in the NFL Draft.
The Broncos may not need to throw huge money or a high draft pick at the cornerback position this offseason thanks to the youth they have already assembled at the position.