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Broncos Player Profile: Justin Strnad #40 | ILB – Yardbarker

The Denver Broncos dealt with multiple injuries at the inside linebacker position in 2021, leading to Justin Strnad seeing action on the field. It was a disappointing showing from Strnad, who carried some high hopes from Broncos Country. 
Denver ended up making changes at linebacker, which was the end of it for Strnad — last year, anyway. In a new season with a new coaching staff, what’s in store for him? 
Let’s dive into his resume to see what the future might hold for Strnad. 
Justin Strnad will turn 26 on August 21. He committed to Wake Forest over offers from multiple other schools. 
Strnad was a reserve linebacker for his second and third seasons after redshirting his first season. He was installed as a starting linebacker in 2019 and had a good showing before a torn tricep ended his season. 
When he was on the field, Strnad was graded out consistently well by Pro Football Focus. His overall grades ranged from 71.8 to 78.4, and his coverage grades were 72.1 to 80.8.
Strnad’s tackling was a concern, though, as he missed 29 tackles, with 12 in each of his last two seasons. He was highly regarded for his play in coverage and was viewed as a modern linebacker for the NFL. 
In college, Strnad allowed four touchdowns in coverage, intercepted four passes, and broke up five more. He was used in a variety of ways in coverage. 
Strnad’s play on special teams was also regarded well and was expected to be a good way to ease his transition to the NFL. 
After his final season, Strnad garnered an invitation to the Senior Bowl, but an injury kept him from participating. Even though he was still recovering from the injury, the Broncos made him the 178th overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. 
During his first offseason training program, Strnad was turning heads. Then a wrist injury in training camp ended his rookie campaign before it ever began. 
Strnad finally saw the field in the 2021 season, which, again, was a major disappointment. The Broncos tapped Strnad to start for five games from Weeks 2-7 — after both starters, Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson, were lost to season-ending injuries — but then was benched. After he was sat down, he saw the field on defense for only 26 total snaps over three games. 
Why was Strnad benched? His play in coverage was lackluster, and as a run defender, he wasn’t anything close to what the Broncos expected from a starting linebacker. 
Even though the Vic Fangio regime, with whom Strnad found himself in the doghouse, is gone, he has an uphill battle. The Broncos received a promising showing from Jonas Griffith after Strnad was benched, brought back Jewell, and signed Alex Singleton in free agency. That trio is set to be the team’s top linebackers. 
Strnad will have to excel on special teams to make the Broncos’ roster as he tries to stave off a couple of undrafted rookies. Earning a place on special teams isn’t a given, as he struggled there in 2021. 
If Strnad doesn’t make the roster, he’ll have a chance to make the practice squad, but it could be a situation where the new staff, from top to bottom, may just want to move on. 
This article first appeared on FanNation Mile High Huddle and was syndicated with permission.
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