The Denver Broncos will potentially have to look to the 2020 NFL Draft to replace free agent Chris Harris Jr., who is off to the LA Chargers.
The Denver Broncos are not exactly going to have an easy time replacing cornerback Chris Harris Jr.
After being picked up as an undrafted free agent in 2011, Harris quickly became one of the NFL's best nickel cornerbacks and turned into one of the best lock-down players in Broncos history.
With a spot in the Broncos' Ring of Fame undoubtedly in Harris' future, asking John Elway to 'replace' Harris this offseason is a foolish request at best.
Even though the Broncos can't exactly replace Harris, they have to move on.
The Broncos' current cornerback room includes:
- AJ Bouye
- Bryce Callahan
- Isaac Yiadom
- Duke Dawson
- De'Vante Bausby
- Davontae Harris
- Shakial Taylor
- Alijah Holder
The team obviously hopes Bouye can return to his pre-2019 form after seemingly playing through last season with some kind of injury, and they also hope that Bryce Callahan can return to form after a foot injury caused him to miss the entire 2019 season.
Isaac Yiadom, Duke Dawson, De'Vante Bausby, and Davontae Harris all showed a combination of starter qualities in 2019 as well as maddening inconsistency, but they should be counted on to continue developing as young players with upside.
With that said, the Broncos could also look for value in the 2020 NFL Draft. Unless Jeffrey Okudah somehow slips to their pick, it's unlikely the Broncos will look at cornerback in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, but I think any round after that is fair game if the right player falls.
Who are some guys the team could try to target to replace Chris Harris Jr.?
1. Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech
Amiik Robertson is listed at 5-foot-8, but it doesn't seem like he really remembers that or cares about it when he's out on the field.
It doesn't matter where Robertson is lined up on the field -- he can make plays on the ball and he's one of the most aggressive tacklers at the cornerback position in this class. If he were two or three inches taller, he might be a first-round prospect.
Although his measurables are all well below average, Robertson's production was among the best in all of college football at cornerback in the past three seasons.
- 184 total tackles
- 23 tackles for loss (how?)
- 14 interceptions
- 34 pass breakups
- 4 sacks
- 2 forced fumbles
Robertson even took a muffed onside kick for a touchdown among his four scores at Louisiana Tech (three off interceptions).
When you watch this guy play, it's clear that he loves to be physical, but he also has a nose for the football.
He has excellent instincts and while he's played more outside corner, I think he's an instant starter in the NFL playing inside at the nickel. His technique must improve overall as Robertson likes to be a bully in press coverage rather than consistently shadow routes, but he can play off in zone and be just as effective as he is playing press on a 6-foot-4 receiver.
He doesn't let you off the line easy, and he doesn't let the ball into your hands easy.
This guy's a stud in the making, and in Vic Fangio's defense, I think he could be quite the weapon.
Javaris Davis, Auburn
Javaris Davis has football in his blood.
The cousin of former NFL stars Vernon and Vontae Davis ran a blazing 4.39 in the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine, following up an excellent week at the Senior Bowl.
At 5-foot-8, 183 pounds, Davis is even smaller than Robertson but his play speed is better, and he has four years of really good production against SEC competition.
Davis has the speed, quickness, and football IQ to match slot receivers stride for stride in their route combinations, and his production, even compared to that of Amik Robertson, is nothing to scoff at.
In four seasons at Auburn:
- 150 total tackles
- 11 tackles for loss
- 8 interceptions
- 27 pass breakups
- 2 sacks
He had two interceptions in each of his four seasons with the Tigers and did a good job playing both inside and outside for them.
Kindle Vildor, Georgia Southern
One of my favorite late-round sleepers in the 2020 NFL Draft is Georgia Southern's Kindle Vildor.
Vildor is the biggest of the three cornerbacks on this list at 5-foot-10, and he's also probably got the best all-around size/athletic makeup.
Although his 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle were well below average, Vildor checks the boxes in terms of size, speed, and explosiveness.
He's also got the production and moxie to match. Here are his numbers from four seasons at Georgia Southern:
- 94 total tackles
- 9 tackles for loss
- 9 interceptions
- 25 pass breakups
Vildor's tackling is, ironically, where he loses ground to the smaller corners on this list of corners who could potentially replace Chris Harris. Tackling and reading run plays were a huge reason Harris was such an overwhelming success early on in his time with the Broncos, so that's an area Vildor will have to prove himself a bit more.
With some coaching, I think Vildor could be one of the best values in this draft with his physical skill set combine with his production and ability to break on the football consistently.
All of these guys have a few things in common -- they have high football IQ, they attack the football, and they all have very good man coverage skills. That doesn't mean they're not good in zone coverage, but to play the slot, you have to be able to match stride for stride and attack the football in the blink of an eye.
These players can all do that.