Former Wildcat standout Nigel Malone got a little closer to his collegiate home on August 1st when the Denver Broncos elected to bring the cornerback to training camp and provide the rookie an opportunity to earn a spot with the team. He was claimed off waivers by Denver after the Pittsburgh Steelers released Malone on July 30 this summer.
Malone originally went undrafted in the NFL Draft but was widely assumed to get a look somewhere after two stellar playing seasons with the Wildcats. An All-American his senior year, he was a risk-taker that occasionally caused my heart to skip a beat but had a knack for coming up with big plays. He led the Big 12 with seven interceptions as a junior and notched five more as a senior. Over those two years he also forced a fumble, recovered another, had 19 passes defended, and 109 tackles. With his collegiate production, Pittsburgh opted to give him a look and signed Malone on June 6 before releasing him last week.
Denver wasted little time in claiming Malone, which provides an interesting landing spot for Nigel. He has the opportunity to learn from the best in the business with the Broncos, who sport future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey (an ardent KC fan, I root against the Broncos as much as the next guy, but let’s recognize Bailey for the talent he is) and former Jayhawk standout Chris Harris, as well as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. While breaking into that nickel package group is a mighty tall order, Bailey is an exceptional talent to learn behind and the available depth behind these players could land Malone a roster spot – particularly considering the toll the altitude takes on the secondary.
Malone should have an opportunity to play in Denver’s first preseason game against San Francisco this Thursday, August 8. To add a little intrigue, former Texas Longhorn Colt McCoy is Collin Kaepernick’s backup and could likely be throwing against Malone in the game.