After a short hiatus to cover the NFL free agency, the Denver Broncos Combine notebook is back with the final day of the event. The final day saw the defensive backs take the field. Due to the amount of players who saw the field, the final day will be split into two articles, one for the cornerbacks and one for the safeties.
The top corner, talent wise, in the draft is Marcus Peters, out of Washington. The issue with Peters is the off-the-field issue. That said, he had a great Combine both in the athletic drills and position drills.
His movement is fluid, especially in his back pedal. He does everything right from a technique point. Unless his off-the-field issues are bigger than currently understood, Peters will be off the board by the time the Broncos pick at No. 28.
The next cornerback has only one year of football under his belt, but probably has the highest ceiling of all the cornerbacks in the draft. Quinten Rollins, out of Miami (Ohio), had a great day during the drills. He showed how fluid his movements are, which is helped by his four years playing basketball as a point guard.
However, during the position drills he showed how raw his technique is. Rollins is sitting on that first/second round cusp, but teams may jump at his upside. Also, a move to safety has been reportedly talked about with some teams. With the Broncos sitting at No. 28, they could jump on Rollins with the intentions of moving him to free safety.
Another one of the top cornerbacks is Florida State's P.J. Williams. Williams has a well-rounded skill-set that teams love. He showcased his talents at the Combine. He moves well and fluidly in coverage and in his backpedal. However, the biggest concerns with Williams can only be answered in the interview room and by viewing his tape.
With an inconsistent motor and lack of willingness against the run, Williams may take a hit to his draft stock. However, he is there with Rollins on that first/second round borderline. If the Broncos are looking to add another cornerback, or if he is their best player available, that may be the direction they go. He isn’t as raw as some other cornerbacks that should be available, which could draw a team to him over others.
Kevin Johnson from Wake Forest had a mediocre day at the Combine. He tested out great in the athleticism drills, but position drills were lacking. He didn’t look as fluid as teams want and is not technically sound.
However, his tape is great and always should be taken into more consideration than the Combine performance. Johnson's stock is hard to get a read on, as it is so diverse. I have seen mid first-round projections to late fourths. Johnson fits the scheme decently, but not great, for the Broncos. He may not be on their radar. At least, not very early in the draft.
The next cornerback was in the news before the college season started with some off-the-field issues. Out of USC, Josh Shaw played boundary corner, slot corner and safety. He had a solid Combine showing. It wasn’t great, but he answered questions he needed to.
He has a solid technique base, but lacks the athleticism that many teams want in the NFL today. Because of where Shaw falls short, he may be limited in what he is asked to do in the NFL, unless he goes to the right scheme. With the switch the Broncos have made on defense, he isn’t the best of scheme fits, but could be looked at in the mid rounds to add depth at corner.
Some college corners are not NFL corners, but safeties, which may be the case with Ladarius Gunter out of Miami (Florida). When watching tape, he looked like a safety playing corner, then at the Combine he confirmed those thoughts. Gunter has all the tools in place--size, length and playmaking abilities that teams love.
He just lacks the technical tools of an NFL cornerback, which is why the move to safety may be better suited for his future. As a mid-late round prospect, the Broncos could look towards Gunter as depth for their defensive backs, capable of playing both corner and safety depending on the circumstances.
The NFL is getting bigger, so the 5-foot-9 Senquez Golson from Mississippi is out of place. Golson has great talent and technical base, which he showed at the Combine. Due to how he was used in college and his size, there are a good number of concerns with Golson that may drop him lower than his talent would suggest.
Golson is even undersized for a safety, so he will likely be set as a slot corner in the NFL, but he has the talent to be an All-Pro slot corner. If he falls to the mid rounds, Denver should take a risk on Golson. This would add to their depth at corner and give them options with what they can do with the other corners on the roster.
Charles Gaines from Louisville is a long corner, but lacks bulk on his frame. The Combine for Gaines was up and down. He did not show as well as many expected in the athletic drills and his position drills answered some questions, but opened up some more. Gaines does well when he keeps the play in front of him, but will need work on deep passes, which he has struggled with in college. Gaines is another mid round option for the Broncos to add depth.
Another Florida State cornerback, Ronald Darby is athletically gifted, though he has technical issues. While at the Combine, it was expected that he would shine athletically. However, during position drills, he answered some of the concerns with his technique, but not all of them.
His backpedal looked much better at the Combine than it does on tape, but his footwork is still questionable. One major concern are his grabby hands, but they couldn’t be resolved at the Combine. He currently carries a third to fourth round grade. He doesn’t fit the Broncos scheme moving forward, so odds are, he isn’t on their radar, unless he falls to where the risk is outweighed by the reward.
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