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Breaking Down the Denver Defense: Post Draft

Scott WilsonCorrespondent IMay 1, 2009

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 21:  The Denver Broncos defense prepares to defend the goal line against the New Orleans Saints during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 21, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Saints 34-32.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Well, the draft has now come and gone and the Broncos Nation (and outsiders) still have little consensus on the personnel decisions being made on the defensive side of the ball.  There is no question that the defensive front seven should have been addressed in the draft, however, the debate might not ever end about if the talent was there so that it could be addressed.  We don't know that now and it would take another article and a crystal ball to get to the bottom of that issue.

What is obvious is that the front seven are going to get the most attention in practices, and I am really curious how it will shake out.  It is obvious that the Broncos didn't invest much in the draft at those positions with only Robert Ayers being selected at DE/OLB, which I will trust the coaching staff on since I personally don't like a "one year wonder" type player, but hopefully Ayers is just hitting his stride and keeps working hard with his talents.  However, the lack of attention beyond his selection was the most surprising part of the draft for me, as I really wanted Ron Brace, Jarron Gilbert, and/or Connor Barwin in the 2nd round.  However, the Broncos did snag a couple of college free agents that could be great steals in Chris Baker (NT) and Everette Pedescleaux (DE).

I think Ronnie Fields gives us at least a passable NT to start with but I think Carlton Powell (Powell basically fit this role at Virginia Tech) and Chris Baker can be big surprises there.  Baker should have been drafted at that position but his off-field issues prevented that from happening.  I like Marcus Thomas as a LDE in this defense (although he is in the mix for NT), and with Robert Ayers and Kenny Peterson at RDE that is how I would expect the starters to look on the line.  Keep an eye on college free agent Everette Pedescleaux as he was on my board for 3-4 DE in the draft and could be a solid contributor as he is very athletic.

For ILB, Andra Davis is a natural fit at strong ILB and putting D.J. at Weak ILB is also a very solid move, (remember this a 3-4, not a 4-3 so the weak ILB is very much the same as a WOLB in a 4-3) as he will be able to "pick up the pieces" from Davis stuffing the run blockers and cover the RB in the passing game.  I do not see D.J. Williams as an OLB in the 3-4, he is a very good fit for the "Patrick Willis" type role as an inside backer, and having Davis alongside will only make him more productive.

At OLB, of course are all the "hybrids" DE/OLB types in Dumervil, Moss, Crowder, and Reid. I would suspect that Moss and Reid will battle for the Strong OLB position as they should be able to cover TE's and break up the short passing game with their height, reach, and athleticism.  Dumervil and Crowder (with Ayers at times) would be the best fit at Weak OLB as the "Rush LB" and do what they do best which is to be the missile launched at the QB every down.

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Boss Bailey is really the hardest holdover to put into a new position but until he is fully recovered I wouldn't count on him for anything.  Once he is healthy, I think he would resume his role as a solid Strong OLB in passing situations.

While I am not jumping on the bandwagon (or trying to start one) that this was a great draft for the Broncos, I do like the way our special teams should be shaping up with the players picked up in FA and the draft.  No matter what, this draft will be remembered too much for the "could have been's" not the "look what we got's."

I won't enjoy watching Ron Brace in New England take over for Vince Wilfork at nose-tackle in a couple of years remembering how we had a chance to draft him.  Nor will I feel cozy and warm when Jarron Gilbert becomes a dominant defensive lineman for the Bears, or Connor Barwin explodes as a one-man wrecking ball in Houston.  Even more heart-breaking will be eventually facing a developed Vaughn Martin at Nose Tackle in San Diego twice a year when he was picked one spot ahead of us in the fourth round (probably too high, but an interesting talent nonetheless).

But, I am an optimist and I will be pulling for all the new Broncos (and yes, the coach too) despite my criticisms and analysis they are still MY Denver Broncos and that love is unconditional.

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