In the fifth of Thin Air’s series on previewing 2017’s training camp for the Broncos is a look at cornerbacks.
This is a position on the team where there is little concern and competition for much of the depth chart. The Broncos have to go all the way down to #4 at this position to find any serious questions.
Chris Harris, Jr.
The only feasible worry with Harris would be how to replace him if he gets injured. Harris is at the prime of his career and is in position to make himself one of the greater players in both Broncos and NFL history at his job on the field.
In addition to the generic injury concern that applies to all players, age might be the only thing that catches up to Talib, who is now 31. But there’s been little evidence that he’s hit an age wall yet, and until that evidence arises expectations should still be high for him.
With his fifth year option picked up, it’s more business as usual for Roby. Manning the #3 CB position may not sound like a starter’s job, but the snap counts tell the real story: 74.5%, 56.8%, and 60.1% in his first three seasons. Roby’s play might contain a few more flaws than Harris and Talib, but that hasn’t manifested as a serious problem.
With Kayvon Webster off to Los Angeles, competition for the job he left is now open. Doss, an incumbent from the past two seasons, should have the fair shot of going first to try to fill the job. Doss has yet been able to establish himself as a regular presence in the defensive backfield, but established talent regularly ahead of him hasn’t made that easy. This will be a critical training camp to prove that Doss has what he takes to move up to the next level in the NFL.
Immediate pressure on Doss will be placed by this third round rookie. After getting bounced around between defense and offense in Georgia, he decided to take the route of being a big fish in the small pond of Lamar. That decision helped him to get drafted in Day 2, but now he’s back to being a small fish in the biggest football pond out there. It won’t be known how big of a shock that will be until he gets out on the training camp field, but with cornerback one of the more difficult positions to master, observers should not be shocked if Langley has a lot to learn before he’s ready to get significant playing time. His draft status, for the time being, should allow him to get that time to learn with the Broncos.
Chris Lewis-Harris, Dontrell Nelson, Marcus Rios
In June, the Broncos swapped out Taurean Nixon for Lewis-Harris. It’s a curious decision because, as a vested veteran, Lewis-Harris will either have to make the active roster or be outright cut. Can Lewis-Harris force Lewis-Harris to keep six cornerbacks? Could he dislodge Doss and/or outmaneuver Langley for the #4 or #5 spot? Apparently the Broncos feel that either of these scenarios could be possible, because it’s tough to think of other reasons why this move was made.
The departure of Nixon also opens up a regular spot on the practice squad that he had occupied during the past two seasons. That could bode an opportunity for Nelson or Rios to snag that spot, since they signed with the Broncos knowing well that they’re competing at a very deep position.