ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Since 2021, Defensive Backs Coach Christian Parker has been at the center of perhaps the Broncos' top position group.
His coaching has helped elevate cornerback Pat Surtain II and safety Justin Simmons into the top echelon at their respective positions, and the overall unit is among the best in the NFL.
If he continues to get such strong play from his group, Parker's future may take him to new heights. Earlier this year, Parker was selected to be one of 40 participants in May's Coach Accelerator program, which "aims to increase exposure between owners, executives, and diverse coaching talent, providing ample opportunity to develop and build upon their relationships," as the NFL wrote in a press release.
Over the three-day program, the NFL provided networking opportunities with sessions designed to advance each participant's development as a leader.
On Wednesday after the Broncos' second mandatory minicamp practice, Parker discussed the experience, from which he said he "learned a lot."
"I think it was really valuable," Parker said. "I think that the group of coaches that I was with were all guys that I respected for a long time, even when I was coaching college, a lot of guys that had been doing it for a while. So being able to meet them finally and spend time with them, the way they organized the program and the different speakers and topics, [there were] kind of some things that are blind spots in terms of your coaching development. So getting that exposure in that regard and having the interaction with the owners and presidents and things like that, too, was real positive.
"I think all in all, they do a good job with the program of just being very versatile in their approach. No topic is too small, in terms of how they're approaching that and what they're trying to teach us in that regard."
In Parker's time leading the secondary, Denver has been among the best in the league defending against the pass. The Broncos have allowed the fifth-lowest passer rating, the eighth-lowest completion percentage (62.8%) and the fourth-fewest passing touchdowns in the league across the past two seasons.
And while he does have ambitions to reach his profession's highest level, Parker said he is more focused on continuing the run of success that he's had so far.
"You always want to focus on the job you have, of course, but ultimately my ultimate goal is to be a head coach one day," Parker said. "I've said that since I was, like, 12 years old. But you know, of course, it's always a process with that. Can't really worry about that down the road, but you always want to be learning and learning from guys like [Head Coach] Sean [Payton] and [Defensive Coordinator] V.J. [Vance Joseph] and things like that, on how to prepare yourself for it when the time comes."
Even though he's been one of the younger position coaches on the Broncos' staffs since arriving in 2021, Parker has been impressive enough to remain through two coaching changes in Denver. When asked about Parker and Defensive Line Coach Marcus Dixon, who also was kept on staff, Payton said, "Both of those guys have passion, are very talented, and I think have a lot of upside."
Joseph, another member of the Broncos' staff with head-coaching experience, also said Parker's future is bright.
"He's sharp, man," Joseph said Wednesday. "He's sharp. He's a star. He is a great partner to work with. As a veteran coach, I've coordinated for about seven years now. My tape is out there, so I'm looking for ways to do different things. Speaking with Christian every day and bouncing ideas off him from what he's done with [former Broncos head coach] Vic [Fangio] and guys in the past has been fun. [We're] making changes and growing off what they did last year. He's smart, he works his butt off and his players love playing for him. He's a star."