ENGLEWOOD, Colo—Today, the Denver Broncos wrapped up day two of their rookie mini-camp. On Monday, the team will host their entire 90-man roster, with the rookies and veterans practicing and competing together.
For the Tulane cornerback duo the Broncos selected in last weekend’s NFL Draft, Lorenzo Doss (fifth round) and Taurean Nixon (seventh round), they couldn’t be more grateful that they’ve been given the opportunity to continue to play football together and build on their unique experience and chemistry.
“It’s a blessing,” Doss said today. “I thank the organization for it.”
It’s a rare occurrence to have two players from the same school, who play the same position, be drafted by the same team in the same class. Nixon spoke to that football serendipity today.
“It was actually great,” he said. “There were a lot of what-ifs in my house. My dad always said, ‘I have a feeling that you and Lorenzo will end up on the same team together.’ Everybody thinks I’m playing when I say that, but it really happened. When I got the call from Denver and they said there were going to draft me, and I knew that Lorenzo got drafted by them before me, it was like, ‘Wow.’ My whole house went crazy. Two Tulane guys are going to be in Denver together.”
Doss went off the board first, but as soon as he saw his friend’s name on the television ticker with the ‘DEN’ abbreviation next to it, he picked up the phone.
”As soon as I saw his name across the TV, I called him because that’s the type of relationship that we have,” Doss said. “We’re tight. We just always have been like that as soon as we both came to Tulane.”
Each player has respect and admiration for the other’s skill-set and abilities on the grid-iron. When asked to scout Nixon, Doss’ breakdown focused on Nixon’s on-field speed and physicality.
“You [aren’t] going to run by him because he’s got 4.3 speed and he hits like a train,” Doss said. “He can do it all. He can cover; he’s the fastest guy the on the field and then he can come up and play the run game.”
As for Nixon, when asked to describe Doss’ game, he said, “He is an athlete. He is one of those guys that are ball hungry. If the ball is in the air, Lorenzo is one of those guys that will come down with it. Him being a receiver before he was a cornerback makes him a great cornerback because he goes and gets the ball.”
Doss sees an advantage in having converted from wide receiver to cornerback. He understands how to read the route and the quarterback and play on the ball while it’s in the air. He talked about what helped him to make the transition early on.
“Early on it was just knowing where my help was at, where the safeties line up and where the linebackers line up,” he reflected. “Throughout the years at Tulane, that’s one thing I focused on. Just knowing every position on the field, it helped me transition a little better.”
The Broncos sent three of their four starters in the secondary to the Pro Bowl in 2014, including cornerbacks Chris Harris, Jr. and Aqib Talib. The opportunity to learn under such accomplished pros is not lost on the former Green Wave duo.
“That’s big right there,” Doss said. “I get to learn from [CBs] Aqib Talib and Chris Harris [Jr.]—Pro Bowlers. It’s a huge honor to be able to be a part of this secondary. I’m going to try and be coachable and then ask them as many questions as I can, and do my job.”
One of the common themes among the Broncos 2015 draft class is dual-sport athleticism. Almost all the players selected in the draft played more than one collegiate sport. As for Doss and Nixon, their other on-field love was track, where they competed together at Tualne.
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“We ran on relays,” Nixon said. “Doss actually gave me the stick. He was on third leg and I was fourth.”
Regarding which event the duo ran together in track, Nixon revealed, “The 4x100. He was the third and I was the fourth.”
With two Pro Bowlers atop the depth chart, two Elway draft picks in Bradley Roby and Kayvon Webster, and a savvy journeyman in Tony Carter, both Doss and Nixon face an uphill battle to make the roster. It’s likely that only one of them will make the team and possible that neither will.
But that won’t stop them from soaking it all in and competing hard to earn a place at the table. Doss’ ballhawking abilities should serve him well and Nixon’s speed and experience returning kicks, offer each player their best chance to win a job.