For the second-straight year, the Denver Broncos invested a compensatory third-round draft pick in a cornerback. Last year, it was Brendan Langley and in 2018, it was Boston College’s Isaac Yiadom.

Yiadom is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back, who plays with tremendous enthusiasm and physicality. He’s not the most polished cover-corner, but he can hold up in press-man. Just don’t ask him to play a lot of zone, at least not yet.

Yiadom hit Broncos training camp fifth on the depth chart, but in less than a week, he’s leapfrogged two spots to No. 3. With the veteran Tramaine Brock currently nursing a moderately severe hamstring injury — which will keep him out of action for about a week — Yiadom has been running with the first-team defense as the third corner.

“Yiadom has had a really good camp," Head Coach Vance Joseph said on Friday. "He’s a young guy—he’s still making some mistakes—but he’s long, he’s open-minded and he’s smart." 

With his almost earnest passion for football, and zeal to get better, Yiadom made an impression on the Broncos coaching staff at the Senior Bowl this past January, which is why the team targeted him in the draft. One thing coaches love about him is his dogged willingness to do what he’s told and apply what he’s being taught on the field.

“He’s doing a real good job,” Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods said on Wednesday. “He is a guy you love to coach because he does exactly what you tell him to do. He plays with clean eyes. He has a proper technique at everything he does. Just from our time with him in the Senior Bowl we know—we haven’t had a chance to hit full pads—he has that little nasty demeanor. He’s kind of a silent killer. I really look forward to him playing in the preseason.”

With Aqib Talib gone, Yiadom is now Denver’s tallest corner. He uses that length to his advantage, although it hasn’t seemed to make much of a difference against 6-foot-3 rookie wideout Courtland Sutton, who’s been making any defensive back that’s covered him look silly.

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However, more often than not, the guy on the receiving end of Sutton’s big plays has been Brendan Langley. Langley has worked hard in camp, but between having to often cover Sutton and seeing Yiadom leap-frog him on the depth chart, he’s swimming a little.

Langley is an athletically gifted corner, but he’s extremely raw and inexperienced. When Denver had to turn to him last year as a rookie, the team got burned. It doesn’t seem as if the pro game has slowed down for Langley quite yet.

“Just to slow his process down,” Woods said, responding to what his message for Langley is. “It’s not going to change. Whether they get on the ball and go no huddle, whether we’re in the red zone or it’s two minutes, the technique you’re playing is the technique. Don’t change it just because of the situation. So, I’m really just trying to have him be patient. He gets frustrated making mistakes. I said, ‘Hey, learn from that mistake and move on to the next play,’ but right now he’s hanging on to it. He’s holding on to it too long. He just has to continue to mature and trust what we’re teaching him to do and play technique.”

If a guy gets beaten in the NFL, he has to be able to quickly turn the page and not let it smolder or eat at him in-game — and the same goes for practice. The focus should be on the next rep. The film room is the time to analyze what went wrong in a failed matchup and correct it for the next day.

"Langley, he’s doing OK also," Coach Joseph said. "He’s got to make sure he doesn’t make the same mistake twice. That’s part of your growth as a young player. Once you make the mistake and we fix it, you have to fix it. It can’t show up the next day over and over again. That’s where he has to get better, Langley.”

Holding onto failure on the field can lead to a player getting stuck in his own head, which makes it extremely difficult to just play with instinct. That’s a lesson Langley needs to learn soon, otherwise he’ll have to sit on the sideline while Isaac Yiadom vacuums up all the first-team reps with Tramaine Brock out.

Yiadom is putting in the necessary work to get better, and approaching training camp with the right mindset. As NBA star Kevin Durant once said, “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.” As one of the first guys to hit the practice field every day, very few are currently out-working Yiadom.

“He always comes out and works the ladders, but the bright lights don’t bother him," Woods said. "It’s not too big for him, so that’s why I’m anxious just to get him to the preseason and see how he performs.”