3

Broncos need cornerbacks in draft, even after trading for A.J. Bouye

Broncos need cornerbacks in draft, even after trading for A.J. Bouye

The deal for Bouye — sending a fourth-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for the eighth-year veteran who has been named to one Pro Bowl in his career — won’t be official until the new league year begins March 18. But he’s just the start of the Broncos’ efforts at the position.

Many personnel executives say Bouye has not nearly played to the level of his Pro Bowl season, with one interception in 2018 and one in 2019 after six in 2017. But Broncos coach Vic Fangio tried to acquire Bouye before when he was defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears.

Bouye has two years left on the five-year, $67.5 million deal he signed in Jacksonville and will have base salaries of $14 million both this season and in 2021, or likely less than the top cornerbacks in the free-agent market are expected to get.

When asked at last week’s NFL scouting combine about the Broncos’ depth chart at cornerback, especially if it does not include Chris Harris Jr., Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway said:nfl jerseys cheap authentic

“I think we have to get better there. That’s one area we’re looking to get better. I think we got better as time went on. We had some young guys. We had some injuries there. Bryce [Callahan] didn’t play last year. We had relied on him. Chris [Harris] had to stay outside a lot more because Kareem [Jackson] played safety. That’s an area that we’re looking to hopefully get better this offseason.”3

The Broncos are thin at corner, particularly if Harris gets a better offer elsewhere as expected. Bouye and Callahan, who underwent foot surgery in November and didn’t play a snap in 2019, are the top two cornerbacks. De’Vante Bausby, who played in five games last season and started two, is coming back from a neck injury that sent him to injured reserve in October.

The Broncos will certainly look in free agency, but with the top available cornerbacks — Dallas’ Byron Jones, Tennessee’s Logan Ryan and Chicago’s Prince Amukamara — expected to get top-end money, they will have to dive into the draft as well.

After the Bouye deal, the Broncos are expected to have 11 picks in the draft once their compensatory picks are awarded. Given that few players — outside of quarterbacks — shoot up the draft board like a big cornerback, the Broncos might have to move a bit to get the players they want at the position.customized nfl jerseys cheap

The draft’s best cornerback — Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah — is not an option for the Broncos with the 15th pick. Okudah will likely be selected among the top five picks, potentially among the top three.

But unless something highly unexpected happens, the Broncos would have the chance to consider Florida’s CJ Henderson, Alabama’s Trevon Diggs or LSU’s Kristian Fulton from the middle of the first round perhaps into the second.

Henderson didn’t play nearly as well this past season as he did as a sophomore in 2018 — when he didn’t allow a touchdown pass — but he is smooth in coverage with 4.39-second speed in the 40-yard dash. While some coaches say Henderson doesn’t play physically enough for their liking, others will decide those coverage skills set him apart.