The Denver Broncos made some huge additions to their defense this offseason in the hopes of adding the kinds of difference-makers who can help the Broncos win it all this year, and newcomers T.J. Ward, DeMarcus Ware, and Bradley Roby (Aqib Talib effectively replaces Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) will also help the team’s depth. Last year, the Broncos suffered an inordinate amount of injuries to top players on the defensive side of the ball, and I highly doubt such bad luck strikes for a second straight season. But just in case it does, the Broncos have even more playmakers and contributors to soften those blows even more.
While Talib makes more of an impact in the passing game than T.J. Ward, the signing of the former Cleveland Browns star strong safety was their biggest bargain on paper. According to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, Ward has been a standout player at training camp for the Broncos so far, and he added this insightful nugget, “He’s the guy who gives the Broncos something they haven’t had lately.”
It’s a statement that rings true in so many different ways, because while elite free safeties hold more value than elite strong safeties, having one of the best SSs in the game can help open things up. Ward plays like a linebacker in run defense, and his ability to get downhill and make sure-handed tackles can’t be understated. He rarely takes poor angles, and he’s arguably the best safety in the game in pursuit (Earl Thomas’s speed makes him better at getting to the ball-carrier, but he’s not a good tackler).
While Ward isn’t a great deep coverage safety, he can help out in that regard and is absolute money on short and intermediate routes. He can mix it up with slot receivers and tight ends in man coverage, but his biggest asset is his ability to bring an edge to the running game. Ward and Rahim Moore will form one of the game’s most formidable safety tandems next season, and that’s downright dangerous behind Talib, Chris Harris Jr., Roby, and Kayvon Webster at corner.