Broncos 2020 draft prospect: TCU CB Jeff Gladney

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 01: Defensive back Jeff Gladney of TCU looks on during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 29, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 01: Defensive back Jeff Gladney of TCU looks on during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 29, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Despite the addition of AJ Bouye, the Denver Broncos could still use a 1st or 2nd rounder on TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney.

So much of the talk surrounding the Denver Broncos heading into the 2020 NFL Draft has been about the offensive side of the ball, but this Broncos team has needs on defense as well.

In particular, the Broncos could upgrade their depth on the defensive line, perhaps look for an upgrade at inside linebacker, and they have a need for some youth and clarity at the cornerback position.

The Broncos could also look to the future at the safety position and bring in one of the ultra-athletic players in this year’s class, but for this post, we’re going to focus on what is probably the primary need defensively right now — cornerback.

And in specific, one of the players who best fits the criteria Vic Fangio covets at the position, TCU’s Jeff Gladney.

Gladney was an All-Big 12 selection three years in a row for the Horned Frogs and was a second-team All-American in 2019 after shutting down his side of the field, breaking up 14 passes and picking off another.

Over the past three seasons, Gladney has 31 pass breakups and five interceptions and has shown himself capable as a blitzer and certainly a willing tackler.

Gladney is a finisher on the money down, and perhaps the best in the 2020 NFL Draft at doing so.

Over the last two seasons, also according to Pro Football Focus, Gladney force 45 contested targets on throws in his coverage and allowed just five first downs. He consistently made life difficult for receivers and his combination of sticky coverage from both man and zone along with his tackling ability make him an ideal fit for Vic Fangio’s defense.

Right now, Gladney is projected to go anywhere from the mid-20s to the mid-second round, so no one really has a good beat on what the NFL thinks of him.

Having such a dominant two-year stretch in the Big 12 is something to consider since those teams are throwing at such a high rate, and often they are looking at high-percentage throws.

For Gladney to force a QBR under 50 in his coverage two years in a row is absolutely one of the most impressive feats for any corner in this draft.

Although Gladney has okay size and athleticism, it’s probably his Combine metrics that will push him to the bottom of the first round or even into the second.

Despite having below average size for the position along with only slightly above average athletic ability, Gladney’s tape speaks volumes.

What are the traits that will endear him to Vic Fangio and defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach Ed Donatell?


Gladney is one of the most instinctive players in this draft, and you see it in every phase of his game. In man coverage, he seemingly runs routes for receivers at times. In zone coverage, he’s a step ahead reading the quarterback’s eyes. As a blitzer, he times his jump well. He reads the field well, showing off his high football IQ.

I think with the Broncos Gladney would be a tremendous Chris Harris Jr. replacement as an inside-outside type of player.

Cover skills

There’s no doubt about the fact that Gladney can cover. He’s extremely competitive, and with such a low success rate for quarterbacks throwing into his coverage, it’s clear that Gladney combines film study with his tremendous instincts and feel for clean coverage. He has excellent ball skills, not just in terms of picking off passes but making plays on the ball and fighting completions out of receivers hands.

Tackling ability

Watching Gladney, it’s clear he takes pride in his tackling. More than just being a willing tackler, Gladney likes to deliver punishing blows when coming up in run support. He’s absolutely tremendous in this regard, taking good angles and trying to jar the ball loose.


The athletic limitations will probably be somewhat of a factor here. Players like CJ Henderson and Jeffrey Okudah with rare traits and production at the college level are the types of players NFL teams covet in the first round. Jeff Gladney is a first-round prospect on tape who could slip to the bottom of the round or even into the second round because his 40-time was 0.05 off of what is considered elite, or because he’s not half an inch taller.

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Ultimately, those things are factors that can be the difference in the NFL, but looking at what the Broncos need, Gladney could come in and be a day one starter at an outside corner position and would be effective from the nickel as well.