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Here’s what separated Davontae Harris, Duke Dawson and Essang Bassey from De’Vante Bausby

Zac Stevens Avatar
September 6, 2020

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos had a three-man competition for the team’s third cornerback spot throughout the majority of training camp.

Despite Vic Fangio wanting one man to take a hold of the job and run away with it, De’Vante Bausby, Isaac Yiadom and Davontae Harris stayed in a dead-even race during camp.

On Saturday afternoon, after the Broncos made their cuts to narrow the roster down to 53 players, only one of those three players remained on the roster. Despite the team keeping six cornerbacks on their final 53-man roster, only Harris remained from that trio.

Yiadom, a third-round pick in 2018, was shipped to the New York Giants on Wednesday for a seventh-round pick. Fangio credited that move to being a good opportunity for the Broncos and a good opportunity for Yiadom to get a fresh start back on the East Coast.

“It just didn’t work out here to the extent that he wanted it to, and we wanted it to,” Fangio added on Thursday. “I’m hoping the new surroundings benefit him and his career.”

After trading Yiadom, there still wasn’t clarity regarding who would be the team’s third cornerback. Heck, even Friday night after the team’s final practice of training camp, Fangio said the decision still hadn’t been made about the team’s third cornerback.

On Saturday, in the most surprising roster move of the day, the Broncos released Bausby. Instead, Denver opted to keep Harris, Duke Dawson Jr., Michael Ojemudia and Essang Bassey, to go along with starting cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan.

“Versatility is part of the equation,” Fangio said on Saturday afternoon when asked why Bassey and Dawson got the nod over Yiadom. “They both can play the nickel position which is important. They both are good contributors in the special teams area which is important. Those were some of the deciding factors.”

Versatility is especially important since the Broncos decided to keep only three — instead of the usual four 00 safeties.

“We have some guys with versatility that are listed as corners, that in an emergency could go play safety for us,” Fangio explained.

The biggest surprise of the group was Bassey, an undrafted rookie. Before Wednesday’s practice, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound cornerback hadn’t been in the conversation to make the Broncos’ final roster, let alone compete for playing time his rookie season.

But on Wednesday, Fangio threw him in with the first-team defense to see how he would react.

“Because we didn’t have preseason games, we let him work with the first team the other day, the [last] two days, and it wasn’t too big for him. We’re happy to have him,” Fangio said on Saturday. “He came in, and instantly you can see if a guy has instincts or not on the field, and if it’s in his body to play the game just by the way they carry themselves on the field with the things they see. He showed that.”

Additionally, Bassey reminded Fangio of another undrafted cornerback currently starting on the Broncos.

“Comparing him to Bryce Callahan at the same stage — we had Bryce way back when Bryce was a college free agent undrafted,” Fangio said, citing where Callahan stood in 2015 with the Chicago Bears. “I’d say Bassey, as a nickelback, is pretty comparable to where was Bryce was at that same point in time.”

Versatility and the high upside of Bassey, along with third-round rookie Ojemudia, were not friendly to Bausby on Saturday.

But just because Harris is the last-man-standing on the roster among the three players who were in the main competition for the third cornerback spot doesn’t mean that job is his.

While Ojemudia missed part of training camp dealing with a quad injury, Fangio was “anxious” to review Friday night’s tape of him to see how he did. Also, after Friday’s practice, Fangio threw Dawson’s name into the mix.

While the Broncos still haven’t decided on who their third cornerback will be, they did decide it will not be Yiadom or Bausby.

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