Denver Broncos: Day 3 draft picks provide depth, huge upside

Denver Broncos, 2021 NFL Draft, Caden Sterns. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos, 2021 NFL Draft, Caden Sterns. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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Caden Sterns, 2021 NFL Draft, Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos, 2021 NFL Draft, Caden Sterns. Mandatory Credit: Texas won 41-34. Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports /

5 (152): Caden Sterns, S, Texas

I mentioned it when the Denver Broncos drafted him, but Caden Sterns is a huge nod to the team’s analytics department, at least in my opinion and from what I can see.

While Sterns is not exactly the only player in this class by the Denver Broncos to be taken with less production at the college level than is typically ideal, he certainly was selected at an ideal spot in the Draft where George Paton might lean a little more heavily on the analytics model to tell him what pick is the best investment.

Why do I say that?

The Denver Broncos obviously believe in their coaching staff. Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell have a long history of developing players defensively and Fangio’s scheme is one where you bank on talent in the secondary, not necessarily just production at the college level.

Not that every safety prospect drafted by a Fangio-coached team will turn out to be Eddie Jackson, but Jackson is a guy who had really one big year with the Alabama Crimson Tide in college surrounded by a few underwhelming or injury-ruined seasons.

Fangio helped develop Jackson into a Pro Bowl safety with the Bears. We’ve also seen him help extract the best out of Justin Simmons.

Belief in the coaching staff’s ability to develop this kid is critical.

What are you believing in them developing? Tremendous talent.

In 2018, Sterns was the number one recruit in the entire state of Texas, a class that included Alabama commit and fellow 2021 classmate Jaylen Waddle.

Sterns made a huge impression as a true freshman with four interceptions and eight pass breakups along with three tackles for loss. His production took a nosedive in the following two seasons, but he showed out in a big way at the Texas pro day.

Sterns ran a 4.40 in the 40-yard dash and posted a 42-inch vertical.

So far, the analytics model is looking at Sterns this way:

  • Position group with proven track record of development in the Fangio defense
  • Former no. 1 recruit in a huge football state
  • Off the charts athletic testing

It’s not like Sterns had no production at Texas after his freshman year, it just wasn’t the trajectory many expected.

In addition to it all, Sterns was a team captain and he’s going to play special teams immediately.

You bank on your coaching staff developing this kind of player.