Who will make the Denver Broncos' roster at safety in 2020?
The Denver Broncos might just have the best duo of safeties in the NFL right now with 2nd-team All-Pro Justin Simmons and big-money 2019 free agent Kareem Jackson.
Simmons and Jackson were truly an elite safety duo in 2019, combining for 164 tackles, six interceptions, six tackles for loss, 25 pass breakups, and a forced fumble.
They were all over the field and are undoubtedly a major reason why the Broncos ranked fifth in the NFL with just 19 passing touchdowns allowed in the 2019 season (11th in passing yards allowed).
The No Fly Zone may not exist in Denver anymore, but Simmons and Jackson have provided the Broncos with the foundation for a new era of No Fly in the Mile High City.
The question right now is -- who is joining them on the roster at the safety position?
Will Parks, one of the top reserves on the Broncos' defense over the past four seasons, has moved on to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Broncos didn't sign any safeties in free agency, nor did they draft anyone in the 2020 NFL Draft. Who is going to be playing the safety position for Denver in 2020 behind Simmons and Jackson?
Let's look through the other candidates on the roster and find out what the Broncos have.
Let it be known -- the Denver Broncos highly value Trey Marshall.
Marshall's forced fumble in the season finale against the Raiders was really a nice cherry on top of an impressive finish to the 2019 season for him.
The former undrafted free agent out of Florida State really put together some impressive progression on tape which you can see outlined in more detail by Cody Roark on YouTube.
Marshall led the Denver Broncos last season with 312 special teams snaps played.
He finished his second NFL season with 25 total tackles, a forced fumble, and a pair of fumble recoveries. While he took his lumps in coverage, Marshall's upward trajectory led to the Broncos not drafting or signing a safety at all in the 2020 offseason.
The pressure is on him now to keep that upward trend going, but there's no doubt this team likes him quite a bit.
Marshall is a tremendous athlete at the safety position with a fearless mentality in the way he plays. He could have a substantial role as a top reserve for the Broncos in 2020 and should be marked in pen on your current roster predictions.
At this point in time, we really don't know at all what the Broncos have in young Kahani Smith.
He was offered a tryout for the Seattle Seahawks in the 2019 offseason but it didn't lead anywhere and he eventually signed on with the Denver Broncos as a reserve/futures contract player.
At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Smith is built like a deep free safety with good length but not a ton of bulk to hold up if asked to play in the box.
He has a couple of highlight reels on YouTube from his time at UTEP, and posted some decent numbers in two seasons there after starting his college career at the JUCO level.
In 22 games at UTEP, he had 127 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, and 13 pass breakups. His highlight reels show a really solid ability to break on the football from the deep free safety position, and his senior highlight in particular highlights a better ability to play in the box than you would expect.
Overall, this is the type of player who is going to have to prove his worth in camp and preseason play in order to crack a roster, but he's got a shot with a somewhat thin group.
The Broncos made Holder one of their highest priorities in the 2019 undrafted free agent market and he was rewarded for his hard work, appearing in two games with 23 special teams snaps down the stretch of the 2019 season.
Holder was a cornerback in college but perhaps lacks the functional speed to play there consistently in the NFL, so the team officially moved him to the safety position.
He finished his Stanford career with 131 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, 28 pass breakups, and a very nice five forced fumbles.
Holder has the ability and the Broncos certainly thought highly of him to bring him up off the practice squad late in the 2019 season.
He will have to fight to make the 2020 roster but he has an edge over some of the other guys coming in having spent an entire season in the Vic Fangio/Ed Donatell defense already.
He posted a ridiculous 6.70 in the three-cone drill at the Scouting Combine along with a 4.57 in the 40-yard dash and a 36-inch vertical jump. He has some nice athletic ability and developmental skills as a versatile defensive back.
The Broncos don't have a ton of guys on their roster who scream 'traditional strong safety' but PJ Locke is one along with Trey Marshall.
Locke is built like a running back at 5-foot-10, 202 pounds, and he posted a 4.57 in the 40-yard dash with a 36-inch vertical jump and 22 bench press reps at the Texas Longhorns pro day.
He was picked up last offseason as an undrafted free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but wound up signing to the Broncos' practice squad last season and ultimately re-signed on a reserve/futures contract.
This kid absolutely flies around the field and loves to hit. He racked up 77 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, an interception, three pass breakups, and two forced fumbles in his final season at Texas.
If he plays that physical brand of football and can prove himself on special teams with the Broncos, he has a decent shot to stick this offseason, especially with some experience with the team late last season.
There are a lot of Denver Broncos fans who think Texas Tech rookie Douglas Coleman has the best chance of any Broncos undrafted player to make the roster in 2020.
The main reason for that? He picked off 11 passes in four seasons with the Red Raiders, including a whopping eight last season.
Coleman's ability to find the football along with his experience at the collegiate level play well into his favor, but he's going to have to be a quick study in the Vic Fangio defense.
At 6-0, 203 pounds, Coleman has a good build for the safety position and obviously found himself in the right place at the right time more often than not this past season for Texas Tech.
Even though a number of his interceptions came off of tipped passes, there's no doubt about the fact that Coleman was constantly hustling to the football and making himself involved in every single play. He's going to need to do that exact same thing to make the Broncos.
The Broncos have such a logjam at the cornerback position right now that it's hard to determine which safeties will make the team behind Kareem Jackson, Justin Simmons, and Trey Marshall -- if anyone does.
At this point in time, my guess would be Alijah Holder who has the best combination of athleticism and experience in the Vic Fangio defense with someone like Coleman hitting the practice squad.