May 23, 2022; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Christopher Allen (45) during OTA workouts at the UC Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
The Denver Broncos got themselves some big-time undrafted free agent steals in the 2022 rookie class. We take a look at the top three.
The Denver Broncos are no strangers to undrafted free agent steals throughout the franchise’s history.
Wide receiver Rod Smith is one of the all-time greats, but more recent names like Shaquil Barrett, Chris Harris Jr., Phillip Lindsay, and CJ Anderson have made significant contributions despite a lack of draft status.
It’s not about when (or if) you’re drafted — it’s all about what you do with an opportunity. The Denver Broncos have three players with great opportunities before them among their large UDFA class.
Which three players were the biggest steals from this year’s crop?
Nov 2, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; USC Trojans linebacker Kana’i Mauga (26) and defensive lineman Jay Tufele (78) celebrate after sacking Oregon Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert (10) in the first quarter of the game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
It’s been well documented at this point that the Denver Broncos’ biggest weakness defensively right now, on paper at least, is at the linebacker position.
Josey Jewell returns as one of the top starters after suffering a pectoral injury early last season.
Jonas Griffith emerged late last year and projects as the other starter next to Jewell.
Alex Singleton and Justin Strnad are the team’s primary depth right now, so there’s an opportunity for a player like Mauga to step in and make an impact.
Last season for USC, Mauga was productive:
At almost 6-foot-1, 245 pounds, Mauga has long arms and an exceptionally aggressive mentality at the position.
He’s got the mentality and physical traits to take on blocks in the running game and the type of physicality that can be valuable right away on special teams.
I’m not sure how many linebackers the Broncos are going to keep on the final 53-man roster but Mauga has the potential to develop into something down the line.
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