The Denver Broncos may have found themselves a fifth-round gem this year at linebacker in Justin Strnad. Will this gem get a chance to shine? Let’s take a look!
With rookie drafts well underway, and others yet to come, there’s plenty of buzz going around about this rookie IDP class. The top tier prospects get most of the attention, but there are plenty of later-round prospects that deserve to be talked about as well. Filling your taxi squad with these late round upside players can pay big dividends down the road if you’re patient.
While the draft capital may be low, sometimes all these guys need is an opportunity to showcase what they bring to the table. Let’s take a look at a day-three linebacker who makes for a great stash for dynasty owners.
Justin Strnad 2019 Stats :
7 games, 69 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 interception
The Denver Broncos selected Justin Strnad in the fifth round (178th overall) in this year’s NFL draft. Strnad is a smooth, fluid athlete who moves like a safety with the three down skill set NFL teams look for. Standing 6’3’’ and weighing 238 pounds, he has a bit of a slender frame, but also has room to bulk up a bit.
Strnad had a breakout in 2018, his first year as a starter. That season he collected 105 total tackles, eight and a half tackles for loss and one and a half sacks. He was well on his way to another 100+ tackle year in 2019 until an unfortunate bicep injury against Florida State ended his season. Although he suffered no other previous injuries at Wake Forest before this past season, it may have led to him slipping a bit in the draft.
— Wake Forest Football (@WakeFB) April 17, 2020
Justin Strnad is a player with a strong football IQ who sees the game well and reacts with confidence. He also is very solid in coverage , having a good feel in both zone and man coverages. While not an elite athlete, he is definitely above average, with adequate sideline to sideline range. His quick first step and high motor aid him in being effective when called upon as a blitzer. He does struggle to get off blocks at times and could use some improvement in that area. Also, while he can deliver some punch as a tackler he does get over zealous at times, hindering his technique. These are both things he will get coached up on at the next level.
Denver does return both of it’s starters from last year at inside linebacker in Todd Davis and AJ Johnson. Both players showed well last year and Johnson was a nice surprise for the Broncos and his IDP owners. One important thing to note is Davis and Johnson are both in the last year of their current deals. If one or both leave after the year it would leave a role for the taking.
Another thing to consider is the Broncos division. The NFC West features some of the best tight end talent in the league with Travis Kelce, Hunter Henry, and Darren Waller. If Davis and/or Johnson struggle in slowing down these talented tight ends, Strnad could be called upon to help. His length and coverage abilities could make him an option on third downs, making it his way onto the field at some point this season. If he does get on the field and Denver likes what they see, they may choose to move on from Davis or Johnson after the season.
Owners don’t have to consider drafting Strnad until the later rounds of drafts, well after the top tier linebacker talent. If you’ve already drafted and he’s currently on waivers, Strnad is a player definitely worth grabbing if you have room. While the investment is cheap the return could be quite profitable in the future.
Thanks for taking the time to read my article, I hope you enjoyed and found it helpful. You can find my work here at idpguys.org and follow me on Twitter @KBellf54. I’m always available for any questions or feedback you may have and my DMs are always open.