Saturday, June 28, 2008

'08 Denver Broncos' Defense: Position Breakdown

With the possible exception of ST, Broncos D will be the most changed from '07. We will see as many as seven new starters, perhaps as many as eleven new defensive players. When one considers there are four rookies and four players new in '07 left over from last year, that's a major rebuild! There could be as many as 19 new faces among the 25 or so on D, in the past two seasons. Add to that a new DC, LB coach and a couple of new defensive assistants, the Broncos' '08 D will be almost brand new.

The position with the least turnover, and therefore the strongest headed into '08, is cornerback. Two proven veterans, Bailey and Bly, backed up by two experienced young players, Foxworth and Paymah with a promising rookie in Jack Williams. It may be the deepest set of corners in the NFL. Just in case you were wondering how important they are, remember how they came flying off the draft board in April? The Broncos may have the luxury of planning ahead for the future of this position. Not many question marks here ... yet.

The DL was joined by three rookies in '07, ends Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder and tackle Marcus Thomas. Moss's season ended early with an injury, Thomas was never really in shape having missed '06; he and Crowder got a lot of playing time. DL usually show great improvement in their second season, Mario Williams a case in point. Elvis Dumervil continues to develop as a PRS getting into double-digits in '07. DeWayne Robertson joins the Broncos DL from the Jets switching back to a more one-gap 3 tech. after having been NT a couple of seasons. A rookie DT, Carlton Powell of Va.Tech., was added in the 5th round. Most of us expect to see these six joined by two or three from: Ebenezer Ekuban, John Engelberger, Thomas Harris, Alvin McKinley, Kenny Peterson, Josh Mallard (trying out at LS), Nic Clemons, Larry Birdine and Paul Carrington. Question marks would appear to be: how will Robertson's knee hold up; how well will the sophs (Moss, Crowder and Thomas) mature; will Dumervil morph into a PRS with about 20 sacks; how much will Powell contribute in a DT rotation this year? A DL will need to be drafted or otherwise acquired in '09. After all those Browns' DL, the situation finally starts to look more promising and manageable.

The last time Denver had a great D, there was a high motor/thumper/emotional leader named Al Wilson at MLB. Bronco fans miss him. His replacement is yet to be found. DJ Williams, who has played all LB spots very well, did a good job at MLB in '07. We are all excited about his return (finally) to WLB where his talents can shine. Nate Webster has yet to show he is the answer at MLB. Niko Koutouvides was signed as an UFA from Seattle. He will get his chance to play MLB and maybe we should have the Greek flags, music, food, drink, etc. ready just in case. Spencer Larsen is a 6th round pick from Arizona (which has produced some great LBs) who has the look of a thumper in the middle. The Bailey brothers finally get their wish to play together yet again, maybe even on the same side of the D most of the time. Jamie Winborn (who played very well in relief) and Jordan Beck (who excelled on ST) are in the mix as well. Also listed as a LB is the top-ranked undrafted player in '08, Wesley Woodyard. Is he a LB or a S? The Broncos will retain six or seven on the roster. Louis Green and Nate Webster will have their hands full just making the team.

The defensive position which I and others have no clue about is safety. Part of it is that we out here really don't know what they in there are up to. Hey, send me to Denver with an expense account and a press pass to all practices, and ... There are six of them; seven if you count Woodyard as a S. But, what is a box S in the Broncos' D? Same as a LB in a split-six (4-4)? Even if the the Broncos intend to play eight in the box, they still need a FS type/center-fielder/break on the ball/big hitter. Could Abdullah, Barrett and Rogers be the FS types with Lynch, McCree, Manuel and Woodyard the box/SS types? Who knows? How many will they keep? Four? Five? Who will the '08 Bronco safeties be? Like I said, no clue. Stay tuned. It will be a big surprise, especially to other NFL teams ... I hope.

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