MILE HIGH MONDAY

Mile High Monday: Baron Browning has star potential as edge rusher

Aug 15, 2022, 6:21 AM
Baron Browning...
(Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images)
(Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos opened the 2022 preseason with a 17-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night. It was a good way to kick off the season, and let’s hope the Broncos can build momentum for the start of the regular season. Most starters didn’t play, but we got to see some good football from the guys who were out there.

I like the preseason. I know the games don’t count, but they do matter – especially for players trying to make the end of the 53-man roster or the practice squad.

I also like contemplating life and sports when driving around with the top down on my old Jeep TJ! The following is a result of those trips during the week.

Buckle up, let’s take a ride through my thoughts.

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First Timer

The Broncos have a good young head coach in Nathaniel Hackett. The first-time head coach has football in his blood. The son of long-time NFL coaching legend, Paul Hackett, the Broncos new coach has seen a lot of football during his life. He’s now in charge of the Broncos, and I like the direction he has this team on.

Hackett does an excellent job of staying positive, and I like the way that he pays attention to both sides of the ball. Unlike Vic Fangio, who was solely focused on defense, Hackett has his concentration on the entire team. This is what all head coaches should do, but as we saw with Fangio that’s not always the case.

He’s known as an offensive-minded coach, but the defense is feeling the love from Hackett, as well. Hackett has fun, and it looks like his defense is having fun following his lead. In his first game as Broncos head coach, Hackett looked comfortable on the sidelines – and he was certainly dialed into the game. In four quarters of preseason football, Hackett looked more comfortable running the team, calling timeouts, and paying attention to both sides of the ball than Fangio did in three years as head coach of the Broncos.

It’s the preseason, so the pressure is much lower than the regular season. Hackett won’t forget his first game as Broncos head coach. When Week 1 on the road against Seattle gets here, Hackett will take the momentum he’s built in the preseason over the regular season.

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Killer Bees

The Broncos have a budding star in outside linebacker Baron Browning. I loved him at the Senior Bowl in 2021, and I thought the Broncos got a steal when they selected him in the third round of that year’s draft. I had Browning graded in the top 50 as an outside linebacker. Even though he played both outside and inside linebacker during his college career at Ohio State, I thought his best fit was rushing the passer the pro level.

Last year under Fangio, Browning began learning both positions as a rookie. He was mostly working on the outside, but once injuries hit in training camp Browning was converted to an inside linebacker exclusively. I like what he showed there, but I always hoped he would get another chance to prove himself on the outside.

I was elated when earlier this year it was revealed that Browning would be at outside linebacker. Even though the Broncos have Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory (when healthy) as their starters, I felt Browning could work his way into the mix during his sophomore season. In fact, I think Browning could push for a starting job even with Chubb and Gregory there. With Chubb and Gregory’s injury history, it’s good for the Broncos to have a talented player like Browning just waiting in the wings.

He’s a reserve player at this time, but with the slightest opportunity we could see Browning become a fixture in the starting lineup for the Broncos this season. You certainly saw in the preseason opener against the Cowboys how much of an impact he can make when getting after the quarterback.

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My Ball Mentality

I love scouting terms. Before the draft, I start speaking in scouting terms as I describe the best and worst attributes of the players coming into the NFL. You’ll hear me go through phrases like hip wiggle, foot frequency, and sand in his pants all the time. I love the descriptive phrases that only those in the scouting community learn and know.

One of my favorite scouting terms is “my ball mentality.” It perfectly describes what receivers have (or don’t have), and how important it is to win the pass at the catch point. I love receivers with my ball mentality because when the ball is in the air it’s theirs. They take possession of the ball in flight, and they rip it away from a defender if the catch is contested.

Second-year wide receiver Seth Williams had my ball mentality in college at Auburn. He’s a big-bodied receiver with a large wingspan, and he can regularly win ‘above the rim’ at the pro level. That’s why I was so disappointed when I saw Williams struggle in camp at times. I know he loves to go get it when the ball is put above his head, yet in camp those type of throws weren’t connecting with the frequency I thought they would. In the preseason opener against the Cowboys, Williams looked more like his old self.

The wide receiver position is packed behind Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. It’s packed with talent, but these guys are mostly unproven so there is opportunity there. The Broncos have a bunch of smaller receivers – good receivers but they’re lacking size – except for Williams. His size and my ball mentality, if he plays like he did against the Cowboys, could earn him a spot on the the 53-man roster.

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Get Venom Right

I was interested when I saw “Spiderman 3” trending on Sunday. My interest was further piqued when I saw it was trending because of Venom. He’s one of Spiderman’s greatest villains, and he was created by my favorite comic book artists of all time Todd McFarlane.

We’ve seen Venom in a few movies to this point, and the results have been mixed. In Spiderman 3 with Tobey Maguire, Venom was portrayed by Topher Grace, and it was a bad fit. Venom got two of his own movies with Tom Hardy playing Venom, and these movies were better but seemed incomplete for characters not named Eddie Brock (Venom).

Spiderman 3 was trending because the rumors that Andrew Garfield would get his third Spiderman movie, and Venom is rumored to be the main antagonist. Garfield did a good job as Peter Parker in ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ and even the sequel had some good qualities (although Electro was a poorly executed concept on the writer’s part). After the success of Spiderman “No Way Home” featuring all three Spidermen (Maguire, Garfield, Tom Holland) it looks as though Sony will give us a film we never thought we’d get after Garfield was replaced as Parker and the franchise was rebooted (again).

Would you be excited for a new Spiderman movie with Venom as the main villain? Hit me up on social media and let me know!

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