The Broncos continued to draft to their board at positions of need (if you believe the Big Dipper, John Fox). The latest is Omar Bolden, cornerback, from Arizona State.
There were many players more highly rated on the board (Alfonzo Dennard comes to mind, but doesn't pass Xanders's huge character weighting as part of his draft grade). Also, they probably could have snagged Bolden with pick #108 or pick #137 given his ACL injury, which caused him to miss 2011. Don't count me as a fan of this pick, but it was bold to draft Bolden with that injury history.
Yet, as we've been saying, the evaluation side of all of this is subjective. You can't argue with the philosophy of the pick. The Broncos needed at least one cornerback out of this draft. Now they have him. He's nearly 5-11 and 200 lbs. That's the sort of cornerback who can cover tight ends on third down. The NFL is becoming a league of specialists. Having a large nickel corner who can cover guys like Antonio Gates is becoming critical.
Finally, Bolden is probably your starting return man heading into 2012, although I don't put his return skills at the same level as the guy they just lost: Eddie Royal.
Let's get to the tape, first against Cal from 2010:
Here's his tape against Oregon:
- Handy in the return game, but not electric
- Good reaction time in off-man and zone coverage
- Ranges on the ball like a safety (pre injury, of course)
- Strong (led all DBs in the bench press at combine with 24 reps)
- Isn't scared to support the run
- Could play safety in the NFL
- Can be beaten deep (Cal)
- Known as a bump and run guy, but the tape says otherwise
- Misses too many tackles
- Fragility an issue (missed almost two full seasons at ASU due to injury)
I don't see Bolden being an upgrade over Chris Harris as a cover corner from this limited tape, although the Broncos think they probably got a steal out of this pick. But that's all before the ACL injury. Bolden's versatility would indicate the Broncos wanted to address the return game after the loss of Eddie Royal. Further, if Bolden returns stronger from his ACL injury, he's probably the Broncos' answer to the emergence of more pass-catching tight ends. Long term, I think his ability in zone coverage (where is all of this man coverage we are supposed to have seen from him?) makes him a better fit at nickel corner. His size and range would probably translate well to free safety.