Broncos’ Undrafted Rookie to Compete For Starting Spot

Broncos Kana'i Mauga

Getty Kana'i Mauga celebrates.

After the conclusion of the 2022 NFL draft, the Denver Broncos were highly active, as they signed 13 undrafted free agents.

One of those signings, USC linebacker Kana’i Mauga, could play a significant role in 2022. In an interview with Alan Hoshida of KHON2 News, Mauga said that he chose to sign with the Broncos because they presented him with an opportunity to compete for a starting position.

“You know, it was just the opportunity that they presented. It kind of was more so on the ability to step in there and compete for a starting position. I took that opportunity, and I’m very grateful for it.”

During his tenure at USC, Mauga amassed 205 total tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, and three interceptions.

He had a big game against Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game in 2020, as he had 14 total tackles and an interception.

Mauga was not invited to the NFL combine, but he did participate in USC’s Pro Day. He ran a 4.65-second 40-yard dash. He also recorded a three-cone time of 7.27 seconds.

The Athletic’s Vic Tafur projects Mauga to be a good coverage linebacker in the NFL.

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Alex Singleton’s Starting Spot Is Not Guaranteed

Josey Jewell should have one of the starting inside linebacker spots locked up. He just signed an $11 million deal, and he had the second-most tackles on the team in 2020 (113).

Therefore, Mauga will likely compete with free-agent acquisition Alex Singleton for a starting spot. Singleton has been extremely productive in the NFL. He led the Philadelphia Eagles in tackles in both 2020 (120) and 2021 (137).

He is a good run defender. Last season, he posted a PFF run defense grade of 74.9, which was the 11th-highest among linebackers.

However, coverage is a concern for Singleton. Last season, he had an abysmal PFF coverage grade of 39.3, which ranked 73rd out of 80 qualifying linebackers.

In addition, the Broncos do not have a lot invested in Singleton, as they signed him to a one-year, $1.115 million deal with $150,000 guaranteed.

Still, I do not expect the Broncos to cut Singleton, even if he loses the starting job. He established himself as a valuable special teams contributor with the Eagles.

On paper, Singleton and Mauga could actually serve as perfect complements to each other. Singleton can play early downs, and Mauga can sub in for passing situations.

Inside linebacker is a position to watch in training camp, as Singelton, Mauga, Jonas Griffith, Justin Strnad, and Barrington Wade compete for positioning on the depth chart.

Mauga Has a Good Chance to Make the 53-man Roster

Regardless of his role, Mauga has a good shot at making the 53-man roster.

On May 11th, Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski wrote an article naming every team’s undrafted free agent most likely to make the roster. For the Broncos, he listed Mauga.

Even though Mauga will compete in training camp, he is not the favorite to start Week 1.

However, he has a chance to become the third or fourth linebacker in a Broncos’ inside linebacker group lacking clear standouts.

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