Round 4, No. 101: Omar Bolden, CB/KR, Arizona State

Omar Bolden

BOLDEN: ... held back by injuries.

The only thing separating Omar Bolden from the second round — or perhaps the first — was his left knee.

In the last three seasons, Bolden missed one year (2011) entirely and most of another (2009) because of problems with it. A sprained MCL torpedoed his sophomore season three years ago; a torn ACL during last spring’s practice brought his college career to a premature end.

A torn labrum that necessitated post-season surgery in 2008 only adds to the litany of pain that has dogged Bolden throughout his career. But his talent and potential was undeniable; in his only full season of the last three years (2010, Bolden was a first-team All-Pac 10 cornerback and second-team all-conference returner.

Two of Bolden’s 17 career kickoff returns went for touchdowns — perhaps the best evidence of the explosion he possesses — and might still possess, even after the torn ACL. He was clocked by some stopwatches at 4.45 for the 40-yard dash when he ran at ASU’s Pro Day last month.

Those numbers are what the Broncos considered. The risk-reward ratio on a player with an injury history as extensive as Bolden’s was right with the 101st pick. If he stays healthy, he ought to be the third immediate-impact player from this draft class, joining defensive tackle Derek Wolfe and running back Ronnie Hillman.

Whether any of the three are starters is questionable; whether all three contribute is not.

Bolden could slide into the lineup immediately as a nickel or dime back — depending on whether he can beat out second-year nickelback Chris Harris — and appears to be the favorite to handle kickoff returns and may take punt runbacks, as well.

That’s not a shabby scenario for a cornerback who had been largely forgotten outside of Arizona State’s locker room last year.

At the Combine, Bolden described his scenario as a cliche’, sang, “It’s like the old saying, out of sight, out of mind.”

Not anymore.

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About Andrew Mason

Andrew Mason has covered the NFL since 1999, when he worked as an editor on NFL.com when the site was managed by ESPN.com. He worked six seasons (2002-07) covering the Broncos on their official website and two (2008-09) on the Panthers' site. He began MaxDenver.com in 2010 and now contributes to CBSSports.com, The Sporting News and The New York Times.
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2 Responses

  1. OK this is the third ‘labrum’ surviver on the team. Warren, Doom, now Omar.
    Let three be lucky.
    Must be a great gamble for Denver to have ‘outstanding’ corners.

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