The Denver Broncos added a whole slew of new faces to the team this offseason. Besides Peyton Manning, most of them were on the defensive side of the ball. Under new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, the defense should continue to make big strides.
Upgrades in the secondary, on the defensive line, and a couple of pieces in the middle of the defense mark this year’s acquisitions on defense.
Let’s see who are poised to make the biggest impact right away for the Broncos in 2012.
Omar Bolden is a unique talent. He has speed and experience. He is a leader who wants to learn and relishes the opportunity he has in Denver. Bolden could contribute right away for the Broncos on special teams returning kicks or punts as Eddie Royal is no longer with the Broncos.
Bolden had a very impressive first rookie minicamp with the Broncos in which head coach John Fox raved about his “first-round type of talent” that he demonstrated.
Bolden is going to press for playing time right away in 2012. He may be stuck in a defensive secondary log-jammed with talent, but Bolden will still earn his share of plays, especially in nickel or dime packages in obvious passing situations. Bolden was a excellent late-round find that should make an immediate impact.
The first player drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2012 figures to contribute on defense right away. Derek Wolfe, a defensive tackle and rookie out of the University of Cincinnati, is going to come into camp to compete for a spot on the defensive line after he graduates on June 9 and will fill a huge hole that the Broncos have in the middle of the defense on the frontlines.
Wolfe is a consistent tackler who racked up tackles for a loss in his senior season at Cincinnati with 21.5 and can get to the quarterback as demonstrated with his 9.5 sacks last year. Wolfe is also a high-energy guy with a relentless motor. He never takes plays off and flies to the ball.
He is also a versatile threat. The Broncos may move him around from the inside to play outside for Robert Ayers at times to create more pressure on the quarterback.
Wolfe will push all the other players on the defensive line. He will also finally give the Broncos a rush from the DT position that will put pressure on opposing quarterbacks right up the middle. He was a great addition for Denver this offseason.
This offseason Brian Dawkins retired from the NFL. Despite only being here for three seasons, Dawkins was a huge part of the defense and a leader on and off the field. His replacement will also be wearing his jersey number this season.
Mike Adams is a character guy with locker room leadership qualities. He has led an impressive yet quiet career since going undrafted in 2004 and remaining in the NFL now for eight seasons.
Last year with the Cleveland Browns, Adams had 61 tackles and three interceptions a team ranked second in the league in passing-defense last season. Adams is a hard worker who will help the maturation process of second-year players Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter, who had inconsistent 2011 campaigns.
Adams’ locker room leadership is already apparent as he instructs Moore, Carter as well as undrafted rookie Duke Ihenacho:
“I just had a talk with the young guys in there,” Adams told reporters. “Rahim Moore had a great day today. I told him, ‘Don’t make it easier for me. Don’t make it easy for Quinton [Carter]. Don’t make it easier for anybody. Make it hard for the coaches to make a decision who’s going to start and who’s going to play when September comes.’”
Duke Ihenacho tweeted about his respect for Adams’ veteran leadership as together they help one another improve.
Adams is going to make a huge impact on and off the field this season for the Broncos.
Tracy Porter is a major upgrade compared to the aging Andre Goodman in the secondary. Goodman had a decent season last year but it was becoming more obvious that he had lost a step and was not the same player that he used to be.
Goodman was released this offseason a few days after Denver landed Tracy Porter a 25-year-old quality cornerback that will lineup opposite of Champ Bailey in 2012.
I predict that this season will be Porter’s time to break out and really live up to his true potential. He will solidify the secondary that has seemed shaky at times and should be able to shut down the other side of the field Bailey does not occupy.
Porter has yet to peak in his career yet, and I think this will be the season that he finally does.