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Why the Broncos were the clear “top pick” for Bryce Callahan

Zac Stevens Avatar
March 16, 2019

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Bryce Callahan was viewed as a top cornerback on the market entering free agency.

Yet despite interest from multiple teams, and the Broncos already signing versatile defensive back Kareem Jackson in the early stages of free agency, Denver was always No. 1 on his list.

“The Broncos were always my top pick just because [Vic] Fangio and Ed [Donatell] are here,” Callahan stated on a conference call with Denver media on Saturday morning, pointing to the Broncos’ new head coach and defensive coordinator

“I feel comfortable in their system. I’ve been playing with them for a couple of years. I feel like I won’t have to be learning a whole new system—I can just get in and go. So that’s kind of why I chose here.”

In fact, Donatell and Fangio are all Callahan knows. When Fangio became the defensive coordinator in Chicago in 2015, he brought along Donatell as his secondary coach. That same year, the two brought in the smaller cornerback from Rice as an undrafted free agent.

Since, the 5-foot-9, 188-pound cornerback has blown the lid off the expectations for an undrafted player, specifically excelling in the slot.

Sound familiar, Broncos fans? How about Chris Harris Jr.?

“When I was in Chicago, that’s who I tried to model myself after,” Callahan said, praising his new teammate. “Both coming from the same stuff—eighth-rounders.”

After a five minute conversation with Callahan, literally, it was clear Denver was the obvious top destination for the Idaho native for both on and off the field reasons.

“They just know how to call the right plays. Ed just has us in the right position,” Callahan said, explaining what made Fangio’s defenses tops in the league year in and year out. “It’s versatile… It switches up a lot. Pressures. The whole thing.”

Fangio’s success on the field is unquestioned, with over three decades of film, stats and awards to prove it. But off the field, he’s “great” to work with.

“You want to make plays for this dude,” Callahan said with passion. “He calls the right plays at the right time and you want to go out there and lay it on the line for him.”

Additionally, outside of the coaching staff, Callahan’s heard great things about the Broncos, specifically from his friend, and former teammate at Rice, Jordan “Sunshine” Taylor.

Because of all of this, “it wasn’t really a hard decision” in Callahan’s eyes. The three-year, $21 million contract with $10 million guaranteed certainly didn’t hurt the Broncos’ cause, either.

While Elway’s helped Fangio get many starters in the first week of free agency, Fangio’s now proven that he can help Elway lure those players in.

As for the challenges that lie ahead in his new division, Callahan was asked if he’s up to the task of facing the likes of the Chiefs and the Raiders, now with Antonio Brown.

“Hell yeah.”

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