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Denver Broncos Stocking Up on D-Linemen and Tight Ends

Jason MuckleySenior Analyst IIAugust 1, 2011

Denver Broncos Stocking Up on D-Linemen and Tight Ends

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    This NFL offseason has been a whirlwind.

    There are reports coming from all over the league—and many reports have changed multiple times.

    This has been true for the Broncos just as much as for the rest of the league.

    While the biggest splash for the Broncos has been the acquisition of Willis McGahee (which hasn't been finalized as of yet), the Broncos have made strides to fill glaring needs in their pursuit of several players.

    A major contribution to the Broncos free-agency woes was their inability to deal Kyle Orton, who is due $8.4 million this season as a Bronco.

    In contrast, Tim Tebow will make $7.9 million this season, and could make up to $8.23 million if he is the starter. These big contracts to two separate quarterbacks have considerably limited the Broncos in their moves so far and may continue to slow down the process if the issue isn't resolved.

    The major acquisitions the Broncos have made—or are making—for the 2011 season have mostly been at the defensive tackle and tight end positions.

    Let's review them!

    On a positive note, senior writer for NFL.com Steve Wyche believes a deal for Orton to the Dolphins still might get done, once either side flinches.

Marcus Thomas, DT (re-signed)

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    Marcus Thomas will continue his career in Denver for at least one more year.

    He has signed a one-year deal with the Broncos as he looks to make an impact on defense. 

    Head Coach John Fox will be converting Denver's defense back to a 4-3, where Thomas should thrive at his natural position, defensive tackle. 

    Thomas will be reunited with teammates Kevin Vickerson and Louis Leonard.

    Additionally, it appears that Ronald Fields has been acquired by the Miami Dolphins and will be leaving Denver.

    Jeremy Jarmon, a DE/DT was picked up by the Broncos when they traded Jabbar Gaffney to the Washington Redskins.

Brodrick Bunkley, DT (Philadelphia Eagles)

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    Brodrick Bunkley was acquired by the Denver Broncos from the Philadelphia Eagles after Bunkley refused to be traded to the Cleveland Browns.

    Bunkley tore a ligament in his elbow at the end of the 2010 season that had to be surgically repaired, but the Broncos are hoping that he will be healthy to start at DT this season. 

    His stats are promising. In 5 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles he recorded 111 solo tackles, 15 for a loss, totaling 24 yards, he has 6 sacks in those seasons, but he is more of a run-stopping inside defender.

    The Broncos went after Bunkley after learning that the Atlanta Falcons' Jamaal Anderson had signed with the Indianapolis Colts.

Ty Warren, DT (New England)

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    Ty Warren is a beast!

    The Broncos would get a huge win in free agency if they were able to acquire him.

    However, it appears that Warren has been on a marathon circuit to visit every team interested in him. In recent days, he has visited the Houston Texans and the Broncos' division rival, the Kansas City Chiefs.

    Warren missed all of 2010 with a hip injury, and team workouts with interested parties are important to gauge what Warren can do. But last year's absence doesn't seem to have diminished his value.

    Warren has been a stalwart run-stopper, and his acquisition would go a long way in the rebuilding of the Broncos defensive front.

    A move like this for the Broncos would be similar to the Oakland Raiders' acquisition of Richard Seymour from the New England Patriots in 2009.

    Seymour immediately added leadership and skill to a weak line that instantly improved the players around him.

Jason Hatcher, DT (Dallas Cowboys)

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    Jason Hatcher is another option that the Denver Broncos are considering to revamp the defensive line.

    Although his stats are less stellar than Ty Warren, he figures to be a solid addition if the Broncos work out a deal.

    I project Hatcher as a backup plan for the Broncos if all else fails and their attempts falter with the other big-name prospects.

Derrick Harvey, DE (Jacksonville Jaguars)

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    The Denver Broncos came to terms with defensive end Derrick Harvey today.

    He figures to compete with Robert Ayers and Jeremy Jarmon for the starting defensive end position. 

    Harvey joins the already-formidable group of defensive ends that the Broncos have assembled.

    Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. approves of the addition of Harvey, saying “He’s a very good run-stuffer. I know that isn't all that glamorous, but I think between Harvey, Jarmon, Ayers and Dumervil, they have a real nice rotation of defensive ends that have different skill sets. Plus, Harvey still has ability to further develop as a pass-rusher.”  

Tyler Brayton, DE (Carolina Panthers)

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    The Denver Post indicated that the Denver Broncos could be interested in picking up former CU Buff Tyler Brayton, who has spent his past three seasons working under the Broncos new head coach John Fox in Carolina.

    Brayton would figure to backup Robert Ayers at defensive end, but with the Broncos recent addition of Derrick Harvey, it may not materialize.

Daniel Fells, TE/FB (St. Louis Rams)

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    With the recent departure of Daniel Graham, the Denver Broncos added another Daniel to fill the gaping hole Graham left behind.

    Daniel Fells is a huge upgrade at the tight end position for the Broncos over Richard Quinn and Dan Gronkowski.

    Quinn and Gronkowski need to find new employment, as the Broncos also drafted two rookie tight ends (Julius Thomas, fourth round and Virgil Green, seventh round) they will want to groom for the future.

    Some have conjectured that Fells may also see some time in the Broncos backfield as a fullback in John Fox's new system.

    The versatile Fells will not have a lack of opportunity with the Broncos at either position.

Dante Rosario, TE (Carolina Panthers)

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    Dante Rosario signed a one-year agreement with the Denver Broncos and in all likelihood will line up opposite of Daniel Fells as the receiving tight end for the Broncos in 2011.

    Rosario has played for John Fox in the past, and every season he has had more receiving opportunities. 

    The Broncos figure to focus on the short-yardage passing game with whoever starts at quarterback and utilize deep receiver Brandon Lloyd, similar to Fox's utilization of Steve Smith with the Panthers.

    Rosario will also be bringing along the Broncos recent draft pick Julius Thomas, whom some have compared with Antonio Gates as a former basketball player with great potential as a receiving tight end.

David Anderson, WR (Houston Texans)

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    Former CSU wide receiver David Anderson has been picked up by the Denver Broncos to help on special teams in 2011.

    Anderson has seen limited action in the NFL thus far at the receiver position but may be brought in as a rotational receiver to give players breaks after large gains.

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