Denver Broncos General Manager John Elway had some interesting things to say at the annual owners meetings in Phoenix, AZ , the most interesting of which is that the team has discussed moving cornerback Bradley Roby to free safety. Via Mike Klis of the Denver Post.
"He can tackle he's tough and that safety has to be a cover guy there," Elway said of the team's first-round draft pick who had a fine rookie season in 2014. "There area lot of different combinations you need to play because the game is changing. Instead of having a strong safety, you want both of them to play center field.".
Roby was arguably the NFL’s best rookie defensive back in 2014 and held his own next to the Pro Bowl duo of Chris Harris, Jr. and Aqib Talib. Roby proved that he indeed can cover, but he’s also a ferocious hitter and sound tackler—requisite traits for a modern day NFL free safety. He also has the range to play the centerfield role the team needs.
There had been rumors that the Broncos were interested in giving 2013 third round pick Kayvon Webster a shot at free safety, in an effort to get him on the field. But moving Roby to free safety, if it pans out in training camp, would open the door for Webster to join the nickel group at corner.
The Broncos signed Darian Stewart to a two-year deal in the first week of NFL free agency. He was a great value signing, but Roby is the superior talent. Besides, as Elway opined, having two players who can play the position will come in handy, considering T.J. Ward’s prowess in the box, and his lackluster skills in coverage.
Moving Roby to free safety is yet another example that the new-look Broncos are indeed shifting their paradigm to rely more on their crop of young homegrown talent. Sylvester Williams, a 2013 first round pick, will get the first swing at nose tackle.
Michael Schofield will reportedly compete with Chris Clark for right tackle. And Ben Garland will compete with newcomer Shelley Smith for left guard. Leaning on young talent was something John Fox was reticent to do.
Klis also reports that Elway and company are hopeful that last year’s sixth round pick, Matt Paradis, who spent his rookie year on the practice squad, is the answer at center, although the team eventually plans to bring in a veteran to compete with him in training camp. Via Klis.
"There's plenty of guys out there and there's plenty of time," Elway said. "Hopefully, Paradis is the answer. Obviously, he's young. What you have to keep in mind is we think we're going to get 10 (draft) picks and we only have 53 (roster) slots. So it's hard to bring these guys in and give them a lot of money up front to compete because what do you do if one of those young guys prove they're ready? We'll do something. We're just not in a rush."
There’s plenty of time to fill roster holes and the draft soon cometh. Some of Elway’s savviest free agent moves have come late in the year. Players like Shaun Phillips, Dan Koppen and Keith Brooking were brought in at the 11th hour and they each impacted the roster in a big way.
Relax. Elway’s got this.
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