The second-year cornerback is playing in the secondary opposite Patrick Surtain II, and the importance of his development in 2023 cannot be overstated. Damarri Mathis was a fourth-round pick by George Paton in the 2022 NFL Draft out of Pittsburgh. Fortunately, he was not thrust into the starting lineup immediately, which I think does help many players.
In an age where the development of players seems to be rushed, I think there is value in being buried in the depth chart until a player is truly ready. Well, Mathis was eventually put into the starting lineup in 2022, starting 11 games after former Bronco Ronald Darby went down with a torn ACL against the Indianapolis Colts, the game Garett Bolles also got hurt.
Anyway, outside of a rough outing in Los Angeles against the Chargers, Mathis did play reasonably well. He amassed seven passes defended and 65 total tackles. He was competent, especially as a rookie CB. Now, in 2023, he may have a ton on his plate. Patrick Surtain II is pretty widely viewed as the best CB in football and has the ability to really take away half the field with his coverage abilities.
Opposing offenses are going to stay away from Surtain, who also has great ball skills and can most definitely lead the league in interceptions at some point. That likely means that Mathis is going to get a lot of attention. Opposing offenses are going to pick on him, not because he is a bad CB, but because they don't want to throw the ball near Surtain.
This is going to put Damarri Mathis in an interesting spot. Can he develop in year two and solidify himself as a good CB in the NFL? Will he be able to handle all the attention that he'll likely get? If not, the Broncos' secondary is going to take a hit in 2023, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Broncos then put someone like Riley Moss in at CB for Mathis if he struggles.
Denver's secondary has been one of the best in the NFL for a while now, and the new duo of Damarri Mathis and Patrick Surtain II could end up being a great one. Hopefully, the young CB is able to hold his own. His being a young player and not having a ton of experience does worry me, but perhaps my worries will prove to be unfounded.