The Denver Broncos fourth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft and was a surprising selection. Not because the player they chose, Brendan Langley, wasn’t known in draft circles (he was), nor because Denver’s seemingly loaded at cornerback (more on that in a second) but primarily because they went with a rawly talented player in a loaded cornerback class when there were other more NFL-ready options.
With the departure of Kayvon Webster in free agency, the Broncos did need another tall cornerback to play on the outside in the event Aqib Talib or Bradley Roby ever go down. With Webster’s absence, they also need a gunner on special teams, and Langley can contribute immediately in both roles.
Langley’s a particularly intriguing player as he’s a former top recruit who went to Georgia and then left for the FCS’ Lamar. He’s played both cornerback and wide receiver over his career and having found some continuity in playing time he broke out last season with six interceptions and received and invite to the Senior Bowl and Combine as a result.
Here’s what we saw on the tape.
Langley has a great mix of size and speed that make him particularly intriguing as a press cornerback. He's a perfect modern cornerback that tested very well for his size in Indianapolis.
He also shows really violent hands at the point of attack which may be his most polished skill as a cornerback.
Langley has great recovery speed and can close on the cushions he allows due to his inexperience in a hurry. Ha also possesses ample speed to turn and run down the field with receivers.
When playing off or in deeper zones, Langley is very good in reading and reacting to the football. He’s a great downhill athlete. His instincts are fairly promising.
As a part-time receiver, he has good ball skills and hands. He makes lots of plays as a result when a play goes his way.
He’s far from soft as he plays with a physical edge at the line of scrimmage and is a willing tackler. He likes to try and slam players to the ground when he has a chance. Will come up and help against the run.
There’s no quit in him; he’ll run plays down and fight till the play is over.
He’s also a promising blitzer who can do damage thanks to his downhill closing speed.
Has been used as a punt returner and was fairly successful at Lamar scoring two touchdowns last season.
As a raw prospect, he still lacks some of the nuanced parts to his game.
He’ll miss tackles and is still fairly inconsistent in that area.
He doesn’t necessarily read routes when players are stopping and turning on inside cuts. Often getting turned around or losing ground to his receiver.
He can be too aggressive in trying to jump routes trying to always make a play on the ball instead of sticking to his man.
Langley's footwork can be all over the place particularly in his back pedal, and he’ll at times lose sight of the ball deep.
He can be too grabby as well and will be susceptible to penalties in the league.
How he fits
There’s a lot to like and a whole lot to work on with Langley. As he’s truly a raw piece of clay with tons of high-end potential. There are points on tape where he looks so raw you wonder how he'd ever make it onto the field and others where his skills really stand out as someone who’s potentially special. It's important to note that every single aspect of his game that he has to improve is coachable. There are very few limitations he just needs to work on lots of the basics. Of course, the Broncos have some of the most highly regarded defensive backs coaches in the NFL starting with head coach Vance Joseph and defensive coordinator Joe Woods. That could be crucial in Langley achieving his ceiling.
Denver's definitely swinging for the fences on this pick but it might be a smart bet considering the circumstances. It's also interesting how the Broncos have now selected four players all with great athleticism and aside from Carlos Henderson all with good size for their positions.