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With Aqib Talib gone, Bradley Roby's opportunity is even greater than it appears

Zac Stevens Avatar
March 9, 2018

DENVER — There was no ceremony. There was no parade. Heck, there wasn’t even the usual highly entertaining Aqib Talib social media post.

But as spring warmth crept into the Mile High City Thursday night, there was a quiet passing of the torch in the Denver Broncos’ organization.

When the Broncos made the official decision to move on from Talib—trading him to the Los Aneles Rams for a fifth-round pick—they gained $11 million in cap space. More importantly, for the future of the organization, they served notice to Bradley Roby: You’re next.

Roby has been waiting for this day since Denver selected him with the 31st overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. But the opportunity in front of him is much more than just simply stepping in for a five-time consecutive Pro Bowl player.

It’s an opportunity to become a household name—something that even his newly re-signed counterpart Chris Harris Jr. can’t say—all across the country within the calendar year.

The cornerback position in the NFL is one where the best in the league rarely get proper recognition. That’s exactly the unfortunate trap Harris Jr. has become victim to because he’s certainly elite, yet not as well-known or recognized as he should be.

To know if a corner is elite, just look at what the quarterbacks say with their decisions on the field.

The best corners never get thrown toward. According to NFL quarterbacks, Harris Jr. is unquestionably one of the best in the game, as his target percentage was the fifth-least in the league last year, following the trend from what he’s done in years past.

What’s even more impressive about that is he’s been playing alongside Talib—a potential Hall of Fame corner—and another option QBs avoid like the plague. Now, with Talib no longer there to force signal callers to look Harris’ way every once in a while, Harris will be left with very few, if any, opportunities.

Instead, they’ll be directed at Aqib’s replacement, Roby.

If Roby lives up to the heightened expectations of what the Broncos believe he can be, he could realistically follow the footsteps of Aqib by constantly making big plays, on top of doing something his predecessor never did: Lead the league in interceptions.

However, if things don’t go as planned, the Ohio State product will be picked on over and over again, and letting go of Talib will look like a massive mistake. Early indications point to the former rather than the latter.

While it’s not quite the weight of the world on the 25-year-old’s shoulders, he now does carry a significant portion of the burden of what was one of the most prolific pass defenses of all time.

Fortunately, Roby didn’t fall into this opportunity. No, for the past four years, he’s been groomed day and night by two men—one of whom he’ll take the field with and the other he will take the place of.

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