Early Broncos 53-Man Roster Projection: CB

In the latest edition of the series, MHH Analyst Erick Trickel projects the cornerback position. Cornerback is one of the strongest units the Broncos have. Who all make it the final cut?

The Denver Broncos have a good group of cornerbacks, probably even one of the best in the NFL. They have two established players and an up-and-coming youngster. Behind those three, they have a few different players competing for a couple of spots, but more of them won’t make it than will.

No. 1 RCB: Chris Harris, Jr.

At the top of the depth chart sits the perennially underrated Chris Harris, Jr. In 2011 Harris joined the Broncos as an undrafted free agent. He played really well his rookie year. After that he just got better. His 2012 season was really a breakout. He made play after play, but those plays came with many mistakes.

In 2013 he cut back on the mistakes and stepped up the great play, but ended up tearing his ACL in the playoffs. Last season, Harris bounced back from his ACL injury in a huge way. He had such a good season in 2014 that he was, at the very least, a top-three cornerback in the NFL.

Now moving forward, it should be expected that Harris steps up even more in the upcoming season. The style of defense and how Wade Philips caters to his players should help Harris take the next step. He should have his best season in 2015, but only time will tell.

Stat Prediction: two sacks, eight hurries, 60 tackles, 20 stops, 40% allowed catch rate, 350 yards allowed, zero touchdowns allowed, six interceptions and 19 passes deflected.

No. 1 LCB: Aqib Talib

The next cornerback is Aqib Talib. Last year was his first with the Broncos and was not as bad as many make it out to be. In fact, it was on par with his 2013 season with the New England Patriots. He was better in some areas in 2014 than 2013 and vice versa.

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Part of the reason for that was the freedom he was given on defense. Talib is a textbook press cornerback, but the former defensive coordinator for the Broncos let Talib decide if he wanted to play press or off coverage, and he often chose to play off.

For the upcoming season, I would expect the choice to be taken from Talib, and with Wade Phillips as the defensive coordinator, Talib will be in a lot more press coverage.

As for how his season goes, it should be better than last season, but expecting a big jump in his performance is a bit extreme. So, I expect a better season, but I doubt it is a whole lot better, or one close to what is expected from Harris.

Stat Prediction: zero sacks, three hurries, 65 tackles, 18 stops, 55% allowed catch rate, 550 yards allowed, two touchdowns allowed, four interceptions and 11 passes deflected.

No. 1 Nickel: Bradley Roby

The next cornerback is 2014 first round pick Bradley Roby. His rookie season went great and he was a top-five rookie cornerback. This season, he will see a lot of playing time as the third cornerback on the Broncos roster. With the versatility of Roby and Harris, Phillips has a lot of options as to how he can use them.

I also would not be surprised if Roby saw action as a safety, but only here and there. With a year under his belt, he should take the next step forward this upcoming season. Let us hope he doesn’t hit the sophomore slump, like other rookies have and do.

Stat Prediction: one sack, one QB hit, three hurries, 65 tackles, 20 stops, 58% allowed catch rate, 650 yards allowed, four touchdowns allowed, three interceptions and 16 passes deflected.

Backup CB: Kayvon Webster

The fourth cornerback on the roster is Kayvon Webster. In the 2013 draft, the Broncos went and selected Webster in the third round. It surprised many, as Webster was generally unknown. His rookie year went down as a roller-coaster-type of season. The highlight was how well he did when taking on Dez Bryant in a shootout that the Broncos managed to win.

Then he got hurt and his rookie season went down the drain. Last year, when he got a chance to play on defense, he did an admirable job. However, he was limited to special teams play, which was inconsistent. He will have to step it up this year on both special teams and defense, as it may be his last chance.

Stat Prediction: 20 tackles, six stops, 65% allowed catch rate, 150 yards allowed, two touchdowns allowed, zero interceptions and eight passes deflected.

Backup CB: Lorenzo Doss
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The fifth and final cornerback to make the roster is rookie Lorenzo Doss. Unless an injury occurs, Doss will likely be limited to either a gameday inactive, or special teams player. So far during offseason practices, he has looked good, but has made a lot of rookie mistakes.

His spot on the roster isn’t cemented by any means, despite being a fifth round pick. He will have to cut back on those mistakes, if he doesn’t want to be cut. If he does get cut, he will likely be brought back on the practice squad.

Stat Prediction: N/A.

That leaves a lot of cornerbacks not making the roster. Most notably, Tony Carter. Carter has managed to stick around, due to being a veteran that the old coaches liked. However, with a new coaching staff, Carter in on the outside looking in. He hasn’t done anything to make them stick with him, but he is competing for that fifth spot with Doss.

After that there is a group of young guys like Curtis Marsh, Taurean Nixon and Tevrin Brandon. These three are more likely competing for a practice squad position, with only two getting a spot. Right now, Nixon and Brandon seem to have an edge over Marsh.

Note: Omar Bolden has made a switch back to safety and is listed as a safety per the Broncos. That is why he was not included in this article, but he will be with the safeties.

That wraps up the cornerbacks. Next up will be the last for the defense with the safeties. Stay tuned.

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Erick Trickel in an Analyst for MileHighHuddle. You can find him on Twitter @Alaskan_Bronco. And be sure to like MileHighHuddle on Facebook.

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