2017 Broncos Season, Secondary

We are less than a week away from the Broncos' first pre-season game. Today I continue my look at the position groups with arguably the best unit on the team, the secondary.

On The Roster:
* Chris Harris, Jr.
* Aqib Talib
* Bradley Roby
* Darian Stewart
* TJ Ward
* Lorenzo Doss
* Will Parks
* Justin Simmons
* Brendan Langley (Rookie)
* Chris Lewis-Harris
* Dontrell Nelson (Rookie)
* Nelson Rios (Rookie)
* Dante Barrett (Rookie)
* Jamaal Carter, Sr. (Rookie)
* Orion Stewart (Rookie)
* Dymonte Thomas (Rookie)

A Look at 2016: It is impossible to be better than the Broncos were in 2016. They had the No. 1 pass defense, and were nearly invincible. The defense as a whole was good, but the pass defense was great. Harris, Talib, Stewart, Ward, and Roby form the nucleus of the No Fly Zone, and are among the best in the NFL at their positions.

Changes in 2017: The biggest changes are the loss of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips (now with the Los Angeles Rams) and corner Kayvon Webster (also now with the Rams). Webster's loss will probably be felt more on Special Teams than Defense, where the Broncos return seven of the top eight players in that position group, including their four best safeties and three best corners. In terms of coaching, secondary coach Joe Woods is now the defensive coordinator, so you have to imagine that's going to help keep things relatively stable for this group. The biggest change would probably come from the Broncos' front end, where the retirement of DeMarcus Ware and injuries to Shane Ray and Shaq Barrett might weaken the pass rush. That could put more pressure on this group, but they've proven they can take it. And, if the rush defense improves, that could make the defense as a whole better. In essence, this was a unit that didn't need much change and, fortunately, it doesn't look like it did change much. The fact they've been crushing the offense in camp is all we need to see to know this group is ready to go.

Projecting The Roster: In the past, the Broncos have kept as many as 10 players from this group on the roster. Given the talent here, I think that's possible again. But the Broncos have other needs, and given the injuries to the linebacking corps, they could need extra bodies there. I think, in the end, the Broncos keep nine in this group. Harris, Talib, Roby, Stewart, Ward, Simmons and Parks are locks. That's seven right away. I think the last two spots will likely go to Doss, a player who's been in the system since he was a rookie, and Langley, a high draft pick who could be a Special Teams contributor. If the Broncos keep a 10th, or if one of those two slips, I think next man up is Lewis-Harris. The rest of the players on the roster in this position group are undrafted rookies. If one really shines they have a shot. Otherwise, I would expect a couple to end up on the Practice Squad. When you're the best in the business, it's a hard lineup to crack.


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