Denver Broncos: Michael Ojemudia being trained for new role in 2021

May 24, 2021; Englewood, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Michael Ojemudia (13) during organized team activities at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
May 24, 2021; Englewood, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Michael Ojemudia (13) during organized team activities at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

When you see number 23 lined up at outside cornerback for the Denver Broncos in 2021, just remember that it’s no longer 2020 third-round pick Michael Ojemudia but free agent acquisition Kyle Fuller coming over from the Chicago Bears. Ojemudia will be wearing a new number (no. 13) and playing a new role for Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell’s defense.

There is no sugarcoating it — Ojemudia has been demoted at least on paper with the Denver Broncos bringing in free agents Fuller and Ronald Darby as well as selecting Pat Surtain II with the 9th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Even as a tremendous scheme fit with Fangio’s zone-heavy defense coming out of Iowa, Ojemudia was thrust into a starting role in 2020 much earlier than the Denver Broncos had probably anticipated.

He predictably had a number of struggles in his rookie season which included, at one point, getting benched after going up against Julio Jones and the Atlanta Falcons.

Despite the struggles, however, Ojemudia had some high points as well and got his hands on the ball a number of times but just couldn’t quite notch that first career interception. He did have one incredible pick that was overturned by a bogus penalty called on Alexander Johnson early in the season, but despite not having any interceptions, Ojemudia had four forced fumbles and six pass breakups.

Unlike a number of other second-year players, Ojemudia is priming for his role to decrease in year two, barring injury.

According to head coach Vic Fangio, Ojemudia has been unfazed by the acquisitions the team has made in the last few months.

"I think he’s in a good frame of mind. I think he learned a lot last year. He got thrown to the fire probably earlier than we would have wanted to, but we had no choice. We’re teaching him some of the inside positions at the nickel and dime position. He has a lot on his plate, but I’ve liked his focus and his attitude. He’s not let the fact that we’ve brought in some new corners affect him. He’s out here competing and trying to earn a spot. I like where Michael is at. He’s still got a way to go, but overall, he’s in a good spot.Vic Fangio via Broncos PR"

Ojemudia will be getting some work as a nickel and dime defensive back for the Denver Broncos, which will drastically improve his chances of getting another shot at a full-time role in the 2022 season.

The more you can do…

The great news for Ojemudia and the Broncos both is the fact that the team can still afford to play the long game with him. It’s not like this is the final year of his contract and will have to try and resurface with another team in 2022.

Ojemudia is also not likely in danger of losing his roster spot given the team’s massive issues with depth at cornerback last season and his starting experience as a rookie.

As up-and-down as Ojemudia’s rookie season was, he now becomes very valuable depth for the team and a player that can be brought along at a slower pace given the team’s major acquisitions in 2021.

In the event that one of the Broncos’ top four cornerbacks is hurt, Ojemudia can step into their role and do well with the snaps he’s given.

With the injury history of Bryce Callahan and Ronald Darby, and in a 17-game season, you never know what could happen.

Of course, the Denver Broncos’ hope and plan is for everyone to stay healthy. If all of the top four cornerbacks play all 17 games, Ojemudia’s role will be fairly minimal and he would play in rotation as a nickel and dime defensive back as well as on special teams.

If that ends up being the case, he will be in a great spot in 2022 to reclaim a role with both Fuller and Callahan slated for free agency. By 2022, Ojemudia could resume a role in Denver’s defense as a nickel or dime defensive back on a full-time basis, this time with some proper seasoning.