Michael Ojemudia approaches 2022 with chip on his shoulder

May 23, 2022; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Michael Ojemudia (13) during OTA workouts at the UC Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Broncos cornerback Michael Ojemudia is eager for the chance to prove why he deserves to be in the secondary rotation this upcoming season. After missing most of his sophomore NFL season, how could the Broncos use Ojemudia on defense?

With a loaded secondary, the Broncos have a good problem when it comes to the number of players who are ready and able to contribute in Denver’s defensive backfield.

Where does Michael Ojemudia fit in Denver’s secondary?

As the Broncos continue with voluntary organized team activities, a lot of buzz surrounding Patrick Surtain has been the main storyline of the secondary as he enters his second year in the NFL. However, Ojemudia enters his third season as a player that hasn’t been discussed as much as he should be.

During the 2021 offseason, general manager George Paton signed veteran cornerback Ronald Darby to a three-year deal, adding needed depth to the Broncos cornerback room. Paton would then go on to draft Surtain with the 9th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

These moves were part of Paton’s plan after the Broncos cornerback room dealt with a multitude of injuries toward the backend of the 2020 season. After Paton signed Darby, Broncos fans wondered what type of role Ojemudia would have.

Initially going into 2021, Ojemudia was mixing in reps on the outside while also learning the Broncos’ dime role under Vic Fangio’s defense. He’d start the Broncos first preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings opposite of Surtain, as the Broncos would win 33-6.

The following week, the Broncos traveled to take on the Seattle Seahawks. During the third quarter, Ojemudia would break up a pass attempt, but fell awkwardly on his lower body after the play.

Team medical officials assisted as Ojemudia would be carted to the locker room with a hamstring injury. Unfortunately for the Broncos, the young corner would end up missing the first 16 weeks of the season.

During Week 17, Ojemudia saw his first action of the season in the Broncos’ 34-13 loss on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers. However, Week 18 would showcase why he  deserves a spot in the Broncos rotation.

With both Surtain and Darby out against the Kansas City Chiefs, Ojemudia was given the start by Fangio in his final game as the Broncos’ head coach. The third-year cornerback would finish the game with 11 tackles, 2 passes defensed, and allowed a 61.4 quarterback rating when targeted according to Pro Football Reference.

What role can Michael Ojemudia play in 2022?

As the Broncos enter the season with new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, Ojemudia has turned heads during OTAs. How can Evero utilize him on defense for the Broncos this season?

With Darby and Surtain both projected to start this season, Ojemudia could play himself into the CB3 spot where he could be the designated backup to both of the starters. For immediate impact this season, he could also resume the role of competing for the dime position.

If the Broncos really want to be creative in dime personnel, they could slide Darby into the other slot opposite of K’Waun Williams and Ojemudia could move outside opposite of Surtain.

The Broncos could also mix things up with their rotation based on situational football. If Denver believes Ojemudia can be one of their best tacklers on defense, the slot role in the dime package could help the Broncos preserve against spread teams that run the ball well, creating a balance between coverage and run-stopping.

He provides even more flexibility to the team because if Paton and the Broncos wanted to save money and have Ojemudia step into a starting role going into 2023, they could exercise their out with Darby’s contract next offseason. After 2022, Darby’s contract doesn’t feature any fully guaranteed money meaning Denver could save $10M in cap space with only $3M counting towards dead money.

As the Broncos prepare for mandatory minicamp ahead of July’s training camp period, Michael Ojemudia will be a player worth keeping an eye on this upcoming season.

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