Denver Broncos: Caden Sterns the first rookie to sign his deal

Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft: Caden Sterns. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft: Caden Sterns. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images) /

As the Denver Broncos ready for their first on-field OTA since 2019, it makes sense that the rookies who are about to take the field will sign their contracts and get their guaranteed cash in case of injury. According to Ryan O’Halloran and Mike Klis, fifth-round pick Caden Sterns — a safety out of Texas — is the first rookie to sign his deal.

After their trade with the Atlanta Falcons for running back Javonte Williams, the Denver Broncos didn’t have a fourth-round pick, so Sterns was their first selection of day three of the 2021 NFL Draft.

The rookie is obviously ecstatic to get to work.

The team recently announced new jersey numbers for offseason acquisitions including draft picks, and Sterns is wearing a pretty historic number with the recently vacated 30.

Sterns was a former top recruit for the Texas Longhorns who looked like he was bound for the first round after his freshman season on campus, picking off four passes and racking up 62 total tackles his first year on campus.

Over the course of his next 16 games (2019 and 2020 combined), he would rack up 111 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one interception, and four passes broken up.

Everyone obviously hoped to see more ball production from Sterns but he never matched what we saw in his 2018 season as a freshman. That lack of ball production was somewhat of a cause for concern.

Not yet 22 years of age, the Denver Broncos are obviously banking on Sterns’ best football yet being ahead of him. He has many qualities the Denver Broncos have borderline required in recent years.

Sterns was a captain at Texas. As an athlete, Sterns is elite for his position.

When you put together Sterns’ intangible qualities (captainship), physical abilities, and upside combined with the Denver Broncos’ coaching staff?

Well that could be a formula for great success. With his athleticism, Sterns is going to be required to be an effective special teams player immediately. General manager George Paton noted that special teams coordinator Tom McMahon was consulted on almost every day three selection for players he felt would be good in that phase of the game.

Sterns and fellow fifth-round pick Jamar Johnson will be fascinating to watch behind veterans Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson. The Broncos really had no depth at that position last year and these two young guys have intriguing upside even as fifth-round picks.

Sterns isn’t in Texas anymore. He’s no longer the big man on campus. He has a chance to really rebound in a great situation. Both of the Broncos’ starting safeties Simmons and Jackson played 100 percent of the snaps last year, but again, that came out of necessity as much as it was Vic Fangio’s preference.

There may be opportunities to get an athletic talent like Sterns on the field if he can prove himself early, starting with rookie minicamp.