Broncos: Recent 3rd-Round Pick Could Be Cut


Getty Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett speaks.

After an eventful offseason, the Denver Broncos are loaded at cornerback. Currently, the Broncos have 11 cornerbacks on their roster: Patrick Surtain II, Ronald Darby, K’Waun Williams, Michael Ojemudia, Blessuan Austin, Essang Bassey, Ja’Quan McMillian, Cortez Davis, Donnie Lewis, Faion Hicks, and Demarri Mathis.

Last season, only six cornerbacks made the initial 53-man roster, so let’s assume that the front office elects to carry six cornerbacks on the roster again this season. Surtain, Darby, and Williams can be penciled in. The Broncos just invested a fourth-round pick in Mathis, so it is hard to envision him getting cut.

Therefore, that leaves seven players competing over the final two roster spots.

McMillian and Davis were signed as undrafted free agents, so they will face an uphill battle to make the initial roster. So, the competition should be between Ojemudia, Austin, Bassey, Lewis, and Hicks.

On paper, Ojemudia would appear to be the favorite in this group. He was a third-round pick in 2020, and he flashed upside during his rookie season. However, he played in only two games last season after dealing with injuries.

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Ojemudia Could Be Cut

On May 10th, Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton wrote an article listing every NFL team’s “best player who could be cut”.

For the Broncos, Wharton named Ojemudia citing increased competition and potential cap savings.

The Denver Broncos thrust cornerback Michael Ojemudia into early action as a rookie in 2020 due to injuries piling up in their secondary, and he rewarded them with a great start to his career.

Ojemudia started 11 games as a rookie, and he racked up 55 solo tackles and four forced fumbles. He also ranked second among rookies in completion percentage allowed through mid-October of his rookie season, according to Pro Football Focus.

However, the Broncos retooled their secondary last offseason, and Ojemudia then struggled with a hamstring injury all year long. He played in only two games last season.

This offseason, the Broncos signed veteran cornerback K’Waun Williams in free agency and selected Pitt corner Damarri Mathis with a fourth-round pick. They could save roughly $800,000 by releasing Ojemudia, although they’d be left with a roughly $500,000 dead cap hit.

Teams needing a physical zone corner should be watching Ojemudia’s status carefully, because he is talented enough to play somewhere.

Ojemudia’s Spot Is Not Secure

It would feel like a mistake to cut Ojemudia. He is still only 24 years old, and when healthy, he has played well. Last season, he posted a PFF grade of 77.1.

In Week 18, Patrick Mahomes targeted Ojemudia 11 times, which was tied for the game-high, and Ojemudia only gave up a total of 45 yards.

Still, Wharton is right. Ojemudia is not guaranteed a roster spot. There is simply too much competition.

Austin has started 17 games over the past three seasons for the New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks.

Bassey has appeared in 13 games for the Broncos over the last two seasons recording 23 combined tackles, two passes defended, and an interception.

Hicks was selected by the Broncos in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL draft; he was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection.

The Broncos will have to make some big decisions at cornerback, but having an abundance of options is a good problem to have.

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