ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos entered the third round with a clear intention:
Select a cornerback.
Well, select their cornerback.
They did that with the 77th-overall pick, when they drafted Michael Ojemudia from Iowa.
"Our thinking going into the third, with the way the board was coming out, that we thought the number one thing we needed in the third was the corner," John Elway said after the end of Day 2. "Michael was the guy we targeted there, so we were thrilled he was there."
Ojemudia doesn't have the same All-American or first-team All-Conference accolades as some of the higher-picked cornerbacks, but he's a seasoned cornerback who tallied three interceptions in each of his last two seasons.
"Well the first thing I liked when we were watching him was just the way he played," Head Coach Vic Fangio said. "He played well. He showed good instincts, had a good feel for the game. He runs well. He's got some length, a good tackler. I just liked the way he played the game in all of the areas of his job. We were happy to get him there too."
The third-team All-Big Ten selection could make a contribution as early as Year 1. CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso gave Denver an A-minus grade for the pick and said Ojemudia is "ready to be an impactful starter as a rookie."
Fangio said Ojemudia's playing time will be determined by his play when he arrives in Denver.
"That's up to him," Fangio said. "Everything's open. Competition is there. We'll play the guys that deserve to play regardless of the year, whether they are a rookie, veteran or in between. He has the right to come in here and compete and earn a job."
With A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan as the team's established starters, Ojemudia seems most likely to see time in the Broncos' nickel defense when they add an extra cornerback to their lineup. In that situation, though, it's not unreasonable to expect Denver to shift Callahan inside to the slot and have the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Ojemudia man the outside role.
At Iowa, he started 19 games over the previous two seasons as the Hawkeyes' right cornerback, and he led the team in pass breakups and interceptions as a senior.
"I did the whole five years at Iowa," Ojemudia said. "[I started] off at special teams, started for the last two years of my career, and I just worked my butt off the whole time and tried to get wisdom from the older guys when my time came. I never didn't take advantage of my time. Everything happens for a reason and that's why I played my best at the end of my career."
In Denver, Ojemudia could eventually earn that starting job on a permanent basis.
"It really is a dream come true," Ojemudia said. "When I [saw] the [Colorado] area code pop up on my phone, my heart dropped because I feel like that's the perfect place for me. I mean, just all the stars aligned with this pick."
Indeed, Ojemudia joins former college teammates Josey Jewell and Noah Fant in Denver, and he'll also get to practice against former Big Ten opponents DaeSean Hamilton and KJ Hamler.
He said he expects practices against Hamler, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and Co. should only help him improve.
"That's going to be big," Ojemudia said. "That's going to be a big adjustment for me and it's going to help me. It's going to be hard during games sometimes, so going against those guys … it's going improve my game way faster than a lot of guys who don't have the luxury of facing them in practice."
Ojemudia, though, will present a challenge of his own to his opponents.
"I plan to [be] just a hard-nose physical guy," Ojemudia said. "A guy who makes plays, a guy who's going to set the tone every time he's out there. I'm definitely going to bring some grittiness to that DB room."