As the Denver Broncos make the transition to the 3-4 defensive scheme, undersized linebackers are no longer in the picture.
In 2008, the Denver Broncos were fortunate enough to snag undrafted linebacker Wesley Woodyard after the NFL Draft. Woodyard went undrafted due to the fact that he was undersized at 218 pounds, and NFL scouts did not know whether he would be a safety or a linebacker at the next level.
When D.J. Williams went down in 2008 with an injury, Woodyard filled in very nicely.
The undrafted rookie out of Kentucky started six games for the Broncos, recording 55 tackles in all including a 13 tackle performance against the New York Jets.
Now that the Broncos will be utilizing four linebackers, Woodyard figures to have a chance at more playing time, but not as a hybrid linebacker/safety, so he has added weight.
"I played last year at 218 pounds and right now I am 230," Woodyard said. "I worked on my lower body in the offseason to pick up some weight, so I will be ready for everything because I added a few more pounds."
Last year for the Broncos, Woodyard played a little bit of a rover or strong safety role at times, and while he would like to play safety again, he has not been working with the defensive backs thus far.
"Of course, I would love to play safety right now, but we've strictly talked about working at linebacker."
It is typical for each linebacker in a 3-4 scheme to be near or over 250 pounds, and Woodyard is still checking in at 230. His quickness makes him an attractive rush linebacker, but his coverage skills could give him an edge in the middle.
"That's (my position) still to be determined. We still have the whole camp to go through," Woodyard said about the position search. "The coaches are working on me at several positions so who knows what is going to happen."
Right now, Denver's first-team linebackers are Elvis Dumervil, Darrell Reid, Andra Davis, and the aforementioned D.J. Williams, so Woodyard is concentrating on finding his role in the Broncos' new defense.
"We are just going through some different schemes on the defense," Woodyard said. "Right now, where I'm going to be out on the field is still up in the air. Right now it's just contributing on special teams like I did last year and basically having fun."
Woodyard is an exciting prospect for the Broncos. He brings a great intensity to the defensive side of the ball, and Denver coaches will have a tough time keeping him off the field.
Quotes courtesy of the Daily Camera