The Denver Broncos just wrapped up the 2023 NFL Draft and came away with a rookie cornerback in the third round. Could Riley Moss compete with Damarri Mathis to start this upcoming season?

Denver Broncos addition of Riley Moss creates questions

During the NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos traded back into the third round to select former Iowa Hawkeyes cornerback Riley Moss.

Moss arrives in Denver after playing and starting for the Hawkeyes defense for five years. In each of the five seasons he played at Iowa, Moss consistently progressed on an upward trajectory which stood out to Broncos general manager George Paton and head coach Sean Payton.

His consistency and growth were evident enough that the Broncos traded back up into the third round to get him.

“Obviously, we want quality, and we feel like he’s a quality player and he’s going to help us,” Paton said after the NFL Draft. “You don’t love giving picks up in the future, but we had two in the third. I think we all feel really good about it and feel great about it because of everything [Head Coach] Sean [Payton] said. We had him in here on a visit. We loved the makeup. He aced the offseason, the Senior Bowl and the combine, and then we brought him in on a visit. The coaches met with him. They Zoomed, and we spent a lot a lot of time with this player. We feel really good about the trade.”

Moss enters the Broncos cornerback room where he projects to play on the outside.

Currently, Patrick Surtain will lock down the top spot at the position, but Moss’s arrival creates questions surrounding whether or not he will compete for a starting job or if Damarri Mathis will maintain the role he earned last season.

With defensive backs coach Christian Parker returning, it’s easy to speculate that Mathis will enter training camp as the starter opposite of All-Pro and Pro Bowl cornerback Surtain who enters his third season in the NFL.

During last year’s draft, the Broncos selected Mathis in the fourth round. The initial expectation was that Mathis wouldn’t likely start or play much in 2022, but injuries thrust him into the starting lineup where he passed the eye test and exceeded all expectations.

With Moss being selected in the third round, it’s fair to ask whether he’ll get the chance to start.

On tape, Moss consistently showcases his instinctual knowledge of the cornerback position from a fundamental standpoint. He’s good at disguising his coverage presnap, knows how to adjust his cushion against faster wide receivers, and consistently finds himself near the football.

He finished his Hawkeye career with 11 career interceptions and 26 passes defensed.

As he prepares for rookie minicamp, Moss will step up and look to make an immediate impression on the Broncos coaching staff and Christian Parker.

He’ll have every opportunity to generate trust early on, but the main evaluation will come during training camp in July and in the preseason where Payton has indicated that starters will play.

If Moss shines during camp and is making plays during the preseason, he’ll make a strong case for earning playing time or potentially starting. However, Mathis has earned the right to enter camp with the first opportunity to maintain his spot from last season.

The Denver Broncos will report for rookie minicamp on May 12-14.