For years the depth at safety for the Broncos was messy, and this year it is only slightly better. Normally the Broncos keep 10 total defensive backs—five corners and five safeties. Right now, it seems they may go with only four, due to the versatility of their defensive back corps as a whole.
No. 1 SS: T.J. Ward
The first starter is T.J. Ward. Last year, Ward’s first with the Broncos, went well but had its hiccups. He played a hybrid role similar to Kam Chancellor. He was a box safety, who hit and tackled like a linebacker. His biggest woes came in coverage, where he consistently struggled. Part of that was due to the type of coverage he was often asked to play.
Going into the 2015 season, I would expect more from him. With how aggressive the defense should be under Wade Phillips, Ward should see more tackles. I would expect him to be attacking the offense more, instead of reading and reacting as much as he did in 2014. Whatever the case, Ward has to improve upon a good 2014 season.
Stat Prediction: 90 tackles, three sacks, four forced fumbles, 70% allowed catch rate, six touchdowns allowed, and two interceptions.
No. FS: Darian Stewart
The other starting safety is Darian Stewart, who signed with the Broncos in the offseason. Previously of the Baltimore Ravens, Stewart was a starter for them and played over 70% of their defensive snaps. He put together a really good year in a secondary that struggled. He is a jack-of-all-trades, but a master-of-none type of player.
Stewart will start opposite T.J. Ward, although his starting spot isn’t cemented, he was given the first shot and has made the most of it. It is his to lose and he has no intentions of losing it. I would expect a major step forward for Stewart in 2015. He has experience under his belt, and will be used to the best of his abilities.
Stat Prediction: 70 tackles, zero sacks, three forced fumbles, 60% allowed catch rate, one touchdown allowed, and four interceptions.
Backup: David Bruton
The first backup is David Bruton. Before last season, Bruton was nothing more than an ace special teams player. However, after injuries occurred last season, Bruton stepped up his game on defense.
Had he not done that, the defense would have been an even bigger mess later in the season. Bruton is capable of playing either safety position. That versatility plays a role as to why only four safeties make the final roster, instead of five.
Don’t be surprised if Bruton takes a bigger role this year on defense, and hopefully, he can step up even more than he did a year ago.
Stat Prediction: 45 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, 68% allowed catch rate, two touchdowns allowed, and no interceptions.
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Backup: Omar Bolden
The final backup, and final player to make the squad on defense is……Omar Bolden. After being a safety two years ago, then moved back to corner a year ago, Bolden has settled in as a safety. So far, he has looked really good and comfortable at the position, which bodes really well.
That isn’t the only reason Bolden makes the roster, but the other reasons I'll save for another article soon to come. That said, I doubt Bolden sees much time on defense, unless injuries occur.
Stat Prediction: N/A
That wraps up the defense. There is still one more roster projection to come—the special teams. Stay tuned.
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