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3 safeties to potentially replace Justin Simmons

The Denver Broncos decided to move on from safety Justin Simmons, but now they need to replace him. The Broncos started by signing Brandon Jones while bringing back P.J. Locke. Getting Caden Sterns back from injury will create a nice battle for the two starting jobs.

However, the Broncos could still use more competition with all the questions these safeties have, and while this isn’t a strong draft class to get safety help, there are some options. Let’s explore three safeties that could be a fit in Denver.

Kamren Kinchens | Miami

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October 14, 2023; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels running back Omarion

  • Height: 5-foot-11
  • Weight: 203 pounds
  • Arm’s length: 31-1/4 inches
  • Hands: 9-3/4 inches
  • Relative athletic score: 2.42

Positives

Kinchens has good anticipation and instincts, which means he rarely gets out of position. His range is exceptional, as is his ball skills, with eleven interceptions and ten passes across three seasons. Although he will take risks, they are calculated and usually work out for him.

Kinchens has been praised for his football IQ, and his defensive coordinator at Miami said he could become a coach if he wanted to go that route. He served in a leadership role the past two seasons and also appeared on special teams. The intangible assets are all present at Kinchens.

He has a quick downhill trigger against the run and tackles with good technique and power. Kinchens has great patience in developing passing concepts and a quick trigger to jump routes to make plays on the ball. His play is impeccable, with just two penalties in almost 1,900 defensive attacks.

Cons

Kinchens is not an ideal athlete and he lacks long speed. His instincts and awareness covered it in college, but it could be a bigger problem in the NFL.

Kinchens bite on fakes and leave some room over the top when going downhill. The angles need to be improved in the NFL with the improved game speed.

A worrying goal in 2023 saw Kinchens taken to hospital and miss two games. The lack of overall athleticism could lead to a more limited role in the NFL than his versatile role at Miami. His tackling technique can be improved to reduce his slip attempts.

Suiting up with Broncos

Kinchens can work in the Broncos defense, and with the players they have, they can find the right role for Kinchens. His special teams play is a boost as a rookie, even if he doesn’t play a major role on defense.

Major management position: No. 67 overall.

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Calen Bullock | USC

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October 7, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans Calen Bullock (7)

  • Height: 6-foot-2
  • Weight: 188 pounds
  • Arm’s length: 32-1/2 inches
  • Hands: 9 inches
  • Relative athletic score: 6.37

Positives

Bullock has great burst and is a better athlete than his testing indicates. Several teams could try Bullock at corner for safety.

Bullock has good ball skills and can mirror well in coverage. His movement skills are smooth and fluid, leading to his versatility in the formations and coverages he plays in.

Not only does Bullock have a versatile role on defense, but he can also contribute on special teams as a returner and shooter. He has never missed a game due to injury and will be 20 years old when he is called up, turning 21 on April 30. Necessary improvements had been made between 2022 and 2023, especially with his toughness and physicality.

Bullock has great ball skills, with two interceptions and seven passes broken up. He has good range to work from the safety position in any type of coverage, and he has good instincts for putting himself in the right position. The length is there to attack the catch point and eliminate passes as a safety or corner.

Cons

Bullock’s best position may be safety, but he doesn’t have the build or body type for it. Time must be spent in the weight room to add muscle and mass to his frame.

Bullock’s physicality, while improved in 2023, is still not what you want from a backline defender. The approach technique and consistency are lacking.

Bullock is primarily a cover, and defense doesn’t come naturally to him. He lacks what you want as a run defender when working in the corners or at safety. The processor isn’t there to read through route combinations, and it’s easily lured by fakes in routes and with the quarterbacks’ eyes.

Suiting up with Broncos

When it comes to the Broncos, you want physicality. That alone makes Bullock a bad fit for the team, but he’s not an ideal fit for the scheme. He’s more of a positionless player who has no place in the Broncos secondary.

Major management position: No. 85 overall.

Dadrion Taylor-Demerson | Texas technology

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Texas Tech defensive back Dadrion Taylor-Demerson (25) celebrates his interception against Ole

  • Height: 5-foot-10
  • Weight: 197 pounds
  • Arm’s length: 30-7/8 inches
  • Hands: 9-5/8 inches
  • Relative athletic score: 8.11

Positives

Taylor-Demerson has a lot of versatility in playing multiple roles in the secondary and numerous coverage schemes. His instincts and athleticism are exceptional, but his straight line speed is in a class of his own. The range is excellent and he can be a true centerfielder in the NFL.

Taylor-Demerson has rare experience for a defensive back with 2,859 snaps played over five seasons on defense, and he adds 501 snaps on special teams. Teammates and coaches praise him for what he does on and off the field and for the type of person he is.

With rare opportunities as a blitzer, Taylor-Demerson was very effective. In just 37 snaps as a blitzer, he recorded three sacks and 11 pressures. There are good instincts and intelligence with a fast processor to read and react to plays. He improved his tackling technique and consistency from 2022 to 2023.

Cons

Taylor-Demerson’s size and strength are not ideal for an NFL safety. He has a bad habit of playing outside too much, leaving cuts. Although he has improved his tackling, he still had nine missed tackles in 2023, after 32 between the 2022 and 2021 seasons.

His role may be more limited in coverage, with some thinking his best spot is as a nickel corner. Taylor-Demerson has great range, but his eyes can get stuck on underlying routes and don’t get enough depth in his drops. Bigger receivers and tight ends would be tough matchups for him in coverage, and he would need help to make sure they can be brought down with the ball in their hands.

Suiting up with Broncos

It’s a tough situation for Tayler-Demerson and the Broncos, especially if they feel his best spot is a nickel. While he would bring range and athleticism the Broncos don’t have in the safety room, the physical concerns hampering the fit. The Broncos like their defensive backs to be physical and reliable tacklers, and Taylor-Demerson is not that.

Major management position: No. 90 overall.

Better suited for Broncos

Of these three safeties, Kinchens is the best fit. The size and physicality concerns surrounding Bullock and Taylor-Demerson hurt their fit.

So while Kinchens doesn’t have the quality of an athlete like the other two, he brings plenty of size and physicality to the position. His versatility is also workable in the secondary and doesn’t pose as many problems as the other two.

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