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Broncos Film Room: Did Denver find a gem in Jewell?

Andre Simone Avatar
April 28, 2018

With their first pick in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft,  the Denver Broncos selected Josey Jewell, the productive Iowa Hawkeyes star.  

The consensus All-American selection just came off a really nice season in the Big Ten, leading the Iowa defense to a terrific year. 

As we’re doing with every pick in Denver’s draft we dug into the tape to see what he can bring to the next level.

Strengths:

  • Jewell is an instinctual linebacker who’s around the ball a lot.
  • He’s a very disciplined backer who fills his lane and doesn’t make poor reads. Was strong in short-yardage situations.
  • He’s a better football player than athlete. 
  • He’s a solid tackler.
  • Jewell is a talented read and react backer. Gets to the ball thanks to his IQ.

  • Has a non-stop motor and is really good in pursuit. Made a lot of tackles running down plays.
  • He’s a solid run stuffer, gets penetration against the run.

  • Jewell has some slipperiness to him, can get by blocks and makes plays behind the line of scrimmage. He won’t stay blocked for a while. 
  • He has intriguing instincts in coverage and is a serviceable underneath-zone linebacker. 

  • Has some deceptive ability to turn and run with tight ends, did a pretty good job sticking with Troy Fumagalli and Mike Gesicki, two of the best tight ends in this draft. 
  • He wasn’t tested much in coverage but made some plays; there might be more there than meets the eye.

Weaknesses:

  • He’s not the greatest pure athlete for a lighter linebacker. 
  • Jewell is questionable in coverage; the concern is he might just be a two-down linebacker.
  • His ability to take on blockers and blitz effectively is only okay.
  • He’s only an average sideline-to-sideline athlete.
  • His immediate quickness isn’t great and he can get exposed in space by elite NFL athletes.

  • Misses a few too many tackles in space.

In conclusion

Jewell is another big-time college producer who overachieved based on his natural talent. He has some obvious limitations but will be a smart quarterback to a defense, who can be reliable due to his IQ. 

Given the Broncos’ struggles in the red-zone defensively, he should contribute immediately and will be a very good defender in short-yardage situations. 

The biggest concern, with his fit in Denver, is that he isn’t the athlete at linebacker the Broncos needed and might be a bit redundant with Todd Davis and Zaire Anderson.

This selection seems like the Broncos are banking on him being able to be a serviceable cover linebacker and play some on third down due to his instincts. He has some promise but we need to see him tested more often in that aspect of his game. If he’s good enough in coverage, this will be a good pick; if he isn’t, it’ll be a safe pick in the fourth round with limited downside. He continues Denver’s trend in this draft of going the safer route as Jewell profiles as a high-floor, low-ceiling type of player.

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