Denver Broncos: Second year players with bigger roles in 2021

Denver Broncos young TE Albert Okwuegbunam. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos young TE Albert Okwuegbunam. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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Justin Strnad, Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos LB Justin Strnad #40. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

3. Justin Strnad, LB

If you see number 40 running around with the Denver Broncos’ star-studded first-team defense in photos and videos throughout the offseason, just remember that it’s 2020 fifth-round pick Justin Strnad.

Strnad’s 2020 season was over before it ever really started, though he was able to participate in the majority of training camp where he had already carved out a role for himself in the Broncos’ nickel defensive package.

Scouts and talent evaluators alike really loved Strnad’s work at Wake Forest but a biceps injury pushed him down the draft board.

A wrist injury in late August derailed what could have been a fun story throughout the 2020 season.

Strnad showed tremendous coverage abilities and instincts at Wake Forest that reminded me somewhat of 49ers linebacker Fred Warner given his size profile.

Strnad didn’t test great in terms of his speed and explosiveness, but he’s a good player and even with the addition of third-round linebacker Baron Browning, the expectation is and should be that Strnad will have a role in the defense this season as long as he’s able to stay healthy.

That’s at least one thing that Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson have going for them as the incumbents — they have not gotten hurt for the most part and have been able to provide steady play against the run and as pass rushers when asked to blitz for Vic Fangio.

Strnad is going to need to prove his health and prove his worth once again, and the Broncos will be better off if he does.