Opposite Champ: How Tracy Porter & Drayton Florence Are Great Finds for Denver
What can be said about Champ Bailey that hasn't already been said? At the ripe age of 34, Bailey is still playing at an elite level. He's probably not one of the top-5 cornerbacks anymore, but whatever he lacks he makes up for with consistency; Bailey rarely has a bad game.
One of the issues in Denver the past two years has been the cornerback opposite Bailey. Veteran Andre Goodman started 40 games for the Broncos the last three years. It worked out for the Broncos three years ago with Goodman, Brian Dawkins, Renaldo Hill and Ty Law squeezing every last play out of their careers, but as the players aged the Broncos did a poor job of bringing in young talent behind them.
After a 2011 season, the Broncos were desperately in need of a few solid cornerbacks. Goodman was a free agent and would be 34 before the 2012 season and Dawkins was retiring. The Broncos desperately needed to find a cornerback or two to help a safety position in transition. Fortunately for the Broncos, there were two perfect options on the open market: Soon-to-be 26-year-old Tracy Porter and 31-year-old Drayton Florence.
Which cornerback will have the most interceptions for the Broncos in 2012?
Porter is perfect opposite Bailey. Unlike the veteran Goodman, Porter's best years are still in front of him and the Broncos gave him a one-year prove-it deal. For the first time since Darrent Williams, Bailey will have a cornerback opposite him that is considered young by NFL standards.
Porter has experience, but he's also looking to rehabilitate his value this season in order to get a big multi-year contract. A good season in 2009 that concluded with an interception of Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl had Porter on the way to stardom, but he couldn't build it. The last two seasons were disappointing for Porter in New Orleans.
Similarly aged cornerbacks Brandon Carr, Ladarius Webb, Eric Wright and Richard Marshall all received multi-year deals this offseason, but not Porter. Porter came at a much more affordable price.
Based upon ProFootballFocus grades, Porter and Florence were worse than Goodman last year, but with a fresh start and an entirely different defensive scheme, it's almost like comparing apples to oranges.
Goodman was your typical journeyman veteran and his age will only continue to get the best of him. Porter is young and wants to prove he's better than he has shown the past two seasons. That's why Goodman is unsigned, but Porter had a lot of interest around the league.
Florence is also expected to play in the slot, a position he didn't play in Buffalo or Jacksonville. In the slot, Florence can use his experience and ability to make plays with the added safety net of a linebacker or safety for backup. Florence will not be on an island like Bailey and Porter could be at times.
For what the Broncos lost in the veteran Goodman, they more than replaced with Florence. Florence and Bailey, will be great influences to a few younger players like Omar Bolden, Chris Harris Jr. and Syd'Quan Thompson who might be the future of the position for the Broncos.
The Broncos managed to get younger and more experienced at an increasingly important position in the NFL and they brought in two players at an affordable price to do it. Savvy management by John Elway should pay dividends for a team that is expecting a lot of pass attempts from the opposition in 2012.
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