Rookie makes mark in star-filled Broncos secondary
Kayvon Webster has risen up Denver's depth chart as quickly as he climbed up the Broncos' draft board, and not just because of injuries in the secondary, either.
Many personnel people across the league considered it a bit of a reach when the Broncos selected Webster with the 90th pick in the NFL draft.
Webster, who led South Florida with 82 tackles as a senior, almost unheard of for a cover cornerback, is the prototype big cornerback all teams are searching for.
A shade under 6 feet and 200 pounds, he has the speed and strength to cover all those fast, physical receivers that are flooding the field these days.
Three weeks into his rookie season, nobody's questioning the Broncos' third-round grade anymore.
Webster has played 60 snaps on defense and 60 on special teams, collecting four tackles and breaking up three passes, half as many as he had in college last year. Last week, he played 25 snaps on defense and 18 on special teams.
''I like that when he goes in the game he doesn't look like it's too big for him,'' defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said. ''He's come in and just done his job. He's a physical corner. He's a bigger corner. I think he can really run. And the moment doesn't appear too big for him, which is great because he's going to find himself in a lot of those moments.''
If Champ Bailey's left foot and Tony Carter's right ankle need another week to recover, the Broncos (3-0) will roll with Webster as their nickel cornerback Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles (1-2).
Looking at the film, Michael Vick surely won't be breathing a sigh of relief if that's the case.
''He's a rookie, but he doesn't carry himself like he's a rookie,'' Bailey said. ''He definitely thinks he should be playing every snap and I like that kind of attitude.''
Bailey also likes Webster's ability to move on to the next play when he gets beat without dwelling on it, an essential ingredient for defensive backs to stick around a while.
''You have to be born like that. Nobody can coach that,'' Bailey said. ''That's just got to be part of your makeup. I see that with him. He's had some rough spots but you wouldn't be able to tell by his demeanor.''
Webster said his heartbeat doesn't speed up on game day because he's picked the brains of Bailey, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Chris Harris and then faced the likes of Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker throughout the week.
''I feel like there's nobody better than them,'' Webster said. ''And if I'm going into the game, I'm looking at you like, `All right, you're nothing, because I'm going against the best every day.'''
Playing press coverage his senior season allowed scouts to get a glimpse of how he might do in the pros. Most college coaches have their cornerbacks play off the receivers, so it's somewhat of a guessing game about how well they'll adjust to the NFL's tighter coverages.
Webster didn't have any interceptions his senior season but broke up a half-dozen passes, forced three fumbles and collected two sacks.
''I really didn't have a chance to get my hands on a lot of balls because I was the person doing the dirty work,'' Webster said. ''We just tried to eliminate one side of the field and they ran the ball to my side a lot and that just led me to being the leading tackler.''
And he loved every single one of those 82 takedowns.
''If I've got to hit somebody, I ain't afraid to hit `em. If I've got to cover somebody, I ain't afraid,'' Webster said. ''I've been playing tackle football since I was 6. That's the thing to do.''
Notes: Former C Tom Nalen will be the 24th inductee into the team's Ring of Fame on Sunday.
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