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Denver Broncos On The Brink: Lorenzo Doss, Cornerback

Chad Jensen is spotlighting young Broncos on the brink. But are they players on the brink of stardom or obscurity? Today, we focus on cornerback Lorenzo Doss.

As GM of the Denver BroncosJohn Elway has double-dipped on the same position a few times in the NFL Draft. In 2011, he took two tight ends and two off-ball linebackers. In 2012, he took two 5-tech style defensive ends. 

In 2014, Elway took two more off-ball linebackers in the same class and two safeties in 2016. Most recently, Elway took two receivers in the 2017 Draft. 

But in 2015, not only did Elway's Broncos double-dip on the cornerback position, he took two players from the same school, selecting Tulane'Lorenzo Doss in the fifth round and teammate Taurean Nixon in the seventh. Although Nixon will have his day in the sun, today's focus is on Lorenzo Doss. 

While at Tulane, Doss started 34-of-37 games for the Green Wave. In his three-year collegiate career, Doss tallied 126 tackles (94 solo), 15 interceptions, 35 passes defensed, one sack and two fumble recoveries. As you can see from that career stat-line, Doss has a nose for the football. While Doss earned second-team All American honors in his junior season, it was his sophomore season that he really began to show NFL potential. He picked off seven passes and scored two defensive touchdowns. 

Doss finished second in the nation in interceptions as sophomore. The next year, college quarterbacks were a little gun-shy about throwing in his direction, but he still picked off three passes and showed impressive physicality in run support, tallying five tackles for a loss. 

The Broncos selected him with the 164th overall pick and right out of the gates, John Elway talked about what impressed him most about Doss. 

"Lorenzo Doss is a good corner with tremendous ball skills that’s going to come in and compete," Elway said following the 2015 Draft. 

As a rookie, Doss entered a stacked cornerback depth chart and heading into his third year, that hasn't changed. Still, Doss managed to set himself apart and earned himself a spot on the 53-man roster as a rookie in 2015. 

However, as the low man on the totem pole, Doss was only active for six games as a rookie, seeing a total of three defensive snaps during the regular season, while also chipping in on 37 special teams snaps. With his limited opportunities, he wasn't able to tally any box score stats. But Doss did get that big Super Bowl 50 ring. He gets to add 'World Champion' to his football resume. 

Heading into year two, Doss was hopeful that he could earn more playing time on defense. And although he was active for exactly six games — the same as 2015 — he received exponentially more snaps and was able to ply his wares on gameday a couple times. 

With No. 4 corner Kayvon Webster banged up in Denver's Week 8 home game vs. the San Diego Chargers, Doss was activated. Going against one of the best pure passers in the NFL — Philip Rivers — Doss would be tested to the utmost. 

On a 3rd-&-4 play in the third quarter, the Chargers tried to run a little jerk route to wideout Travis Benjamin. The Chargers stacked the right side with three receivers, hoping to create some confusion in Denver's zone coverage. 

Doss had the inside zone, which put Benjamin in his sights. Here we get to see Doss' ability to read the quarterback and his nose for the ball, as he lets the route develop in front of him for a few fractions of a second, before breaking on the ball. 

Doss came really close to picking this ball off himself, but was at least able to deflect the pass, popping the ball up and into the arms of Pro Bowl safety Darian Stewart. Keep in mind that Doss, like all members of the No Fly Zone do on the regular, benefited greatly from Denver's pass rush, which forced Rivers into an early throw.

This play represents Doss' biggest positive impact thus far in his brief career. Later on in the same game vs. the Chargers, Doss would be tested again on third down. 

This time, Doss plays off-coverage on Benjamin on 3rd-&-long in the redzone. Doss keeps his man in front of him, backpedaling into the endzone. When Bejamin stutter-steps and makes his cut, Doss breaks and were it not for a great throw and catch, he was in great position to defend this pass. 

Despite getting a hand on the ball, Doss relinquished the touchdown reception. Again, a great throw and even better one-handed, juggling catch in the back of the endzone. You could argue that Doss was maybe a little too aggressive on this play, but this is how they're coached to do it. 

It was just one of those low-percentage plays and Doss happened to be on the losing end of it. The Broncos would go on to win this game regardless. 

On the season, Doss finished with 74 plays on defense, and 36 on special teams. Believe it or not, Doss saw 16 more plays on defense than Kayvon Webster, who just signed a nice contract in Los Angeles. 

Unfortunately, the metrics didn't bear out well for Doss in his second year, notwithstanding the increase in playing time. I reached out to Pro Football Focus for some advanced data on Doss' 2016 performance. 

Targets 9
Receptions Allowed 5
Yards Allowed 56 yards
YAC Allowed 15 yards
Longest Rec Allowed 16 yards
TD Allowed 1
Pass Breakups  2
QB Rating Allowed 111.3

Honestly, it's about what you'd expect from a No. 5 cornerback in his second year. When the likes of Aqib TalibChris Harris, Jr., and Bradley Roby are all on the field, Doss is always going to be the most attractive option to opposing quarterbacks. 

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However, going into his third season, I'm quite confident in Lorenzo Doss. Yes, he's being evaluated by a new head coach, but his old position coach — Joe Woods — is now his defensive coordinator.

Every year, players have to re-prove themselves. With the Broncos selecting cornerback Brendan Langley in the third round this past spring, the onus is on Doss to step up and show that he's the more experienced, superior player and put a stranglehold on that No. 4 corner role vacated by Kayvon Webster. The Broncos also brought in a few undrafted cornerbacks. 

With six OTA practices under his belt, Doss is proving to be a consistently disruptive force for the Broncos defense. Earlier this week, Chris Harris, Jr. was asked about how the rookies were doing, but still ended up talking about Doss. 

“I think they’re coming along well," Harris said. "I’m liking the undrafted guys we picked up. I feel like they’re coming in and playing pretty well. Langley is looking good. He’s very physical and has technique. He just continues to learn the system. Doss is just a ball hog. Doss is always around the ball. He may get beat but he might still come out with a pick. It’s a win-lose with Doss.”

If Lorenzo Doss goes down, he'll go down swinging — just like we saw in the above touchdown he allowed in Week 8. Some prognosticators have gone out on a limb to say that Langley's arrival spells doom for Doss. 

I disagree. While the Broncos will try to find ways to get their third-round corner on the field, I expect Doss to be the No. 4 corner in Joe Woods' defense. Doss might be on the brink, but I expect him to earn at least one more year to prove himself to John Elway and new head coach Vance Joseph

RELATED: Broncos On The Brink: Shaq Barret | Broncos On The Brink: Jordan Taylor | Broncos On The Brink: Bennie Fowler | Broncos On The Brink: Andy Janovich

Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.

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