When the Broncos shipped Tebow to the New York Jets, they acquired two draft picks in return. One was wasted on center Phillip Blake, who now resides on the Arizona Cardinals practice squad. However, the other was spent on promising outside linebacker Danny Trevathan.
In 2012, his rookie year, Trevathan made an impact as a reserve linebacker. He registered 32 tackles in his final 12 games, so he was fairly effective as a role player.
However, by comparison, his 2012 season was horrible.
By comparison and overall, his 2013 season has been tremendous. Yes, his goal-line gaffe in Week 1 cost him and the Broncos a touchdown, infuriating Broncos fans. However, he has pleasantly surprised his team on all other plays. He has an interception, a sack, two pass defenses and 14 tackles in his two games, and he has been rock-solid in pass coverage.
As a result, the Broncos have forced six turnovers and have allowed a decent 25 points per game (with seven points deriving from a fumble deep in Broncos territory by Wes Welker) without star pass-rusher Von Miller and star cornerback Champ Bailey—likely the team's two best defensive players.
How good is Danny Trevathan?
Right now, Bailey, Miller and middle linebacker Wesley Woodyard are the best Broncos defenders. However, Trevathan could make the leap to relevance and add his name to that list soon.
Trevathan has dominated in all aspects of the game, and his ascension to stardom is underway. He is well known in Denver for his decent pass coverage, and he showed the nation what he can do when he intercepted Baltimore Ravens Joe Flacco in the first game of the 2013 NFL season.
Flacco looked to the flat to find Ray Rice on 4th-and-1, and Trevathan used his solid recognition to jump the route. The play didn't end well, as he followed up his noteworthy interception by dropping the ball before reaching the end zone, but it didn't change the fact that he played a great game.
And, it didn't change the fact that he is a solid player integrated in Denver's future plans.
Trevathan was seen as a temporary replacement for the suspended Miller, but his play has changed people's thoughts. When Miller returns, the Broncos will likely use Woodyard at middle linebacker, Miller at strong-side linebacker and Trevathan at weak-side linebacker. Nate Irving, Steven Johnson and Adrian Robinson would likely stay for depth, and Paris Lenon could stay as well.
Irving is a solid player, and he was thought of as the starting middle linebacker (Woodyard would have played outside linebacker). However, instead, we could see Trevathan breaking up passes, accumulating countless tackles and making his presence felt as a full-time starter.
Why? Because he has outplayed Irving and, surprisingly, will likely keep starting when Miller returns.
Trevathan's performance has undoubtedly exceeded most people's expectations, but it hasn't completely shocked everyone. As Bleacher Report's Daniel Barnes noted, Trevathan led the SEC with an insane 143 tackles in 2011. He has always been a solid producer and a good all-around player, and his skills have translated to the NFL extremely well.
Does Denver have one of the best groups of linebackers in the game?
He got an opportunity, made it count and is now looking at a bright future. As long as he doesn't let up, he could keep improving and continue to prove the critics wrong.
He has always piled up tackles and lit up stat sheets, and his pass coverage has always been stellar. He has definitely provided much-needed assistance in containing tight ends—a problem that the Broncos last season.
In short, he is a jack-of-all-trades player who can help the Broncos in multiple ways.
Denver has great linebackers, so Trevathan is the forgotten man when compared to Miller and Woodyard. However, he could still fly under the radar and make his presence felt this year and in the future. He won't be a star, but he should end up posting above-average numbers and stabilizing Denver's pass defense.
And if he does that, it could make a big difference for a team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations.