When Broncos lose Chris Harris, Byron Jones could replace him

Byron Jones. Credit: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports.
Byron Jones. Credit: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports.

Chris Harris Jr. isn’t gone yet, and there’s still hope the Denver Broncos re-sign him. But if the bigger money is out there from another team, he’ll almost certainly leave.

Harris has been the lock-down cornerback all over the field for the Broncos since he was found by them as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Kansas. Unlike most corners, Harris’ versatility let him ply either side of the field as well as the slot, against smaller and speedier receivers, too.

Of course, time gets the best of us all and Harris has showed a slight loss of a step, specifically in 2019. He’s still an elite corner, but his best days may be behind him.

Still, it and when he leaves, it’ll leave a massive void in Denver’s defense.

Bryce Callahan didn’t play at all last year, and he’ll be the team’s slot corner when the season rolls around. That is, if he’s finally healthy enough to compete.

And while the team would probably like to see Isaac Yiadom step into a starting role, he is still a long ways off from being a consistent corner.

The Broncos need someone who can step in immediately, and Byron Jones could be that guy.

Both Cecil Lammey and Benjamin Allbright reported after the Senior Bowl that Denver is interested in Jones, a five-year veteran, and he could be their top target in free agency.

Jones, who was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round back in 2015, is an underrated stud of a corner. In 2018, he was elected to his first Pro Bowl, racking up 67 combined tackles with 14 passes defensed.

Last year he totaled 44 tackles with one interception and six passes defensed in 14 starts and Jones has picked off three total passes in his career.

According to Pro Football Focus, Jones was graded at 76.1 overall last year, making him the 18th-best corner in the NFL. His coverage grade of 75.8 was 25th last year. However, Jones’ potential was fully reached in 2018 (83.1 overall, 83.3 coverage) and Denver is likely hopeful he can be that good once again.

While the Broncos are now short on cornerbacks, they do have two star safeties in Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons. That assumes Denver re-signs Simmons, and they’re prepared to franchise him if they have to.

Adding Jones and getting Callahan back from injury would immediately make Denver’s secondary scary again. Pairing that with Von Miller and a healthy Bradley Chubb up front will only help Denver win more games on defense once again.

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