ENGLEWOOD – It won’t get him a better signing bonus or anything but one week into organized team activities, the Broncos’ rookie who has received the most compliments from his veteran teammates has been Josey Jewell.
The inside linebacker from Iowa was drafted in the fourth round – behind Bradley Chubb, behind Courtland Sutton, behind Royce Freeman and Isaac Yiadom.
Yet, Jewell leads in attracting notice. Veteran nose guard Domata Peko Sr. was asked about Chubb and said nice things.
“I also like the linebacker we’ve picked up, that Jewell dude, the guy from Iowa,’’ Peko said.
“I like Josey,’’ said Brandon Marshall, the Broncos’ starting inside linebacker. “He’s a smart, smart kid. He’s intense. He’s a hard worker, a blue-collar worker. You see him out there going full-speed all the time. He knows what he’s doing already. Obviously, he’s still young, so he still has some learning to do.’’
By universal scouting accounts, Jewell had one of the best football and personal character grades in the draft. He may not be the most athletic player, which is why he lasted until the fourth round, but he compensates with off-the-charts instincts and competitiveness.
The Broncos were among the teams who gave him a starting “Mike” linebacker grade. For now, the Broncos’ two starting inside linebackers are Marshall, who has a guaranteed $5 million salary and is a three-down player, and Todd Davis, who will make $6 million this year as part of a new contract extension.
Jewell got a $713,984 signing bonus on a four-year, $3.174 million contract as the No. 106 overall draft pick. He is expected to get his share of playing time as a rookie, especially in early downs, and he could well be a starter in 2019.
Case for the defense
During moments of postgame frustration the previous two years, Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. was among the Denver defensive players who occasionally voiced frustration at how the offense wasn’t doing its part.
Now that Case Keenum is the Broncos’ quarterback, Harris sees the potential for a more balanced team.
“Just now, the offense was kind of jogging but he was like, ‘Huddle up!’’’ Harris said Thursday. “He takes command out there. he gets them right and lets them know, ‘I’ve got the play here.’
Although Marshall is the Broncos’ best cover linebacker, he wants to get better. It’s a big reason why he’s dropped from 238 pounds to 232 with hopes of getting down to 227.
“Tight ends run 4.5,’’ Marshall said. “I just want to be able to move more efficiently. I just want to be more disciplined. I just try to be a more disciplined person in my whole life, not just what I eat, but with everything. I make my bed every morning now. I do things as a routine to become more disciplined just in life.’’
Marshall said he got the make-your-bed inspiration from former teammates Duke Ihenacho and Omar Bolden and from an article he read about “billionaire habits.’’
The Case for College
This may not apply all that much on whether Keenum can lead the Broncos to a winning record this year, but the numbers are so magnificent, they’re worth listing, anyway.
Keenum’s passing stat line his last three full seasons at the University of Houston:
YDs …. TD .. INT
5,020 … 44 … 11
5,671 … 44 … 15
5,631 … 48 ….. 5
Seven years after he left college, Keenum is still the NCAA career leader with 19,217 passing yards – 2,145 more than runner-up Timmy Chang of Hawaii – and 155 touchdowns – 13 more than Boise State’s Kellen Moore.