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NFL Draft Preview: Defensive line and linebackers

Part II: the mean and not always lean, Front 7. Included are charts, tables and a Cadberry Easter Bunny

I ate the Snickers bar from the other day, now raiding baskets for a suagr rush to power me through 10 quadrillion hours of game film. Now that the Shrine, Senior and Combines are over, it’s time to dig into some names the Denver Broncos could target. If you missed Part One, GO HERE. (please)

Today we focus on the guys whose job it is to make QB’s fear for their children, RB’s bruise and slot receivers cry, mama. I’m splitting them up otherwise this would be a novel and Random House would be calling. For the casual fan who has a life outside Denver Broncos football and didn’t get the children joke, please ask newlywed, Derek Wolfe.

Before I begin, need to let everyone know that without a regular Fan Poster, Cool_Ninja3100, this piece would be half of what it is. Not only did he put together the colorful charts from the combine, but at the begging of me, broke out some of the position groups (bless you, you made my job so much easier).

Having sizes and times for the Front 7 broken down puts the players into a better perspective. An edge rusher should be more agile than his fellow linebackers, etc.

He also was a sounding board to bounce names off of. We may have even changed the other’s mind on a couple and even unearthed a gem here and there.

Because my new man crush put color codes, it’s easier to see who is elite (Blue), above average (Green), average (White), below average (Yellow) and Houston we have a problem (Red). Black is for those who didn’t perform. Many athletes opted out because they’re going to work out on Pro Day or were sick or recovering from an injury. Don’t let that sway you.

Along with his charts, I made a table to compare certain player’s numbers from college, trying to give as well rounded a perspective as possible. Must also give a shout out to NFL Female who procured press passes for me. Please support them!!

With that, lets kick off with...

Chase Kuntzsch

So many to like in the above list, it’s tough to pick pick five. I had a long list, but whittled it down when I realized which ones gave me more woos, than ohs. Plus, as with each group, it’s not looking at who goes first, but who Denver could take throughout the draft.

OK, here comes my bias. Flat out, can’t see straight bias. I love DE DeMarcus Walker. He, Von Miller and Derek Wolfe playing together gives me the need to howl. Now that DeMarcus Ware (sniffle) has retired, a huge hole has opened up. DWalk can’t match his HOF ability, but he does possess that same kind of quiet leadership. Plus, when you lead the nation in sacks, you’re not chopped liver. Walker is disruptive, keeps his eyes on plays and is faster than he appears. He also stayed in school to get his degree.

I’m going to relay a quick moment that tells you why (beyond his ability) I want him. During the Orange Bowl, Michigan had stormed back from a huge deficit and it looked like all was lost for FSU. The cameras caught a player with his head hanging down and Walker said, “get your head up, get your head up!” How many times have you seen our players looking glum and you want to jump into the TV and slap them silly? As long as there’s time on the board to come back, you never give up! Aqib Talib is like that. Walker is, too. That’s who you want in the trenches. That mentality wins games. Which FSU did.

Speaking of Michigan, Chris Wormley is a run stopping maniac (except against Dalvin Cook). Based on that, he could be moved to NT. He showed that on shifty edge rushers, he lacks the finesse, which based on his huge size, could be why. For runs up the middle, he’s your guy. Plus, with his years as an end, he has experience in pass rushing. At 300 pounds, and 6’5” he’s the perfect size. Yes, I may be crazy, but Denver needs a NT and with some coaching, could be our man.

DE Trey Hendrickson is a guy not getting enough love. Not only did he give Florida fits (yay!), but was a disruptive force at the Shrine game showing that he can play with the big boys and above his small school status. I had to see why he was at FAU and not a bigger football program. The reason? He was a TE coming out of school and slim. He didn’t gain the freshman ten, but the freshman 65. With that weight came muscle and power. His speed and nose for the QB, could transition him eventually to an edge rusher. He needs work on some run blocking, but this is a solid third round pick.

Dalvin Tomlinson is a tackle that in our 3-4 could be kicked outside and used as a two down run stuffer. He has excellent hands and can take on two blockers, clogging up run lanes. He’s smart, powerful and will do what’s necessary.

Montravius Adams. Half his body weight must be distributed in the lower half because this guy is a tree trunk. He needs some coaching in better technique so he doesn’t get hurt or let a play go around him him, but I liked that he got better. When he’s ‘on’, he’s on. He’s someone I missed talking to that I wanted. See if he burns for football. He’s a depth guy for now.

Further down, is a table with sacks and combined tackles for the ‘front 7’ players of note.

While I’ve been toiling away on this, FA arrived and we didn’t bring anyone except Ronald Leary. Based on that, the guys below may have just sunk a spot on our fill in list. A luxury at the top.

As I wrote above, Hendrickson may be an edge, too.

Chase Kuntzsch

Derek Rivers isn’t the sexy pick, but he could be a player in the right spot at the right time. He’s the good guy who changed his life. He told me his coach, Thomas Simms, is who he credits for having the most impact on him. His dad played at Virginia Tech, because of this, he liked Michael Vick growing up. He didn’t shy from saying it, either. A lot of guys, would. He’s a hard worker, has good technique (often lacking in smaller schools), doesn't give up on plays and plays 100%. He’s also not afraid to tackle. He started out playing CB and Safety, then went to linebacker, then Defensive End and now back to linebacker. He’s an athlete, who knows what he’s doing and why. Because of his weight, he may have reached his ceiling, but worth a serious look.

Garret should be taken #1, so not even looking at him.

Tim Williams would fit into our scheme, he’s the right size, has the speed, technique, the best pass rusher. Not great at stopping the run, but I’ve listed other players who are. If teams pass on him because of his off Field Concerns, he could be there at 20. There are several players who will fall to us because off off field concerns and I think we can take one, maybe two, but that’s the limit. Coaches need to teach, not baby sit and players shouldn't to spend all their free time policing one another. Three problem children are one too many. So, when I list these cats, I’m not suggesting we take them all.

Jordan Willis. Stopping the run and the pass he’s very good at; however, against savvy players in the NFL, he might get stuffed. I’d suggest he stays away from poker because he lacks any subterfuge. With that said, they may see him coming, but still can’t elude him. Who knows, coaching could change his bull like approach.

Chase Kuntzsch

Elway is on good ground taking any of the below names. This a good bunch. Who will be there in the second or later rounds.

Ryan Anderson is the opposite of Adams. If he plays poker like he plays, make sure its not strip or you’ll lose your shirt and more. Not sure he’s an outside guy, though. He’s better staying away from speedy wideouts, if a team wants him to play some coverage, it’s not a strong suite, which was highlighted in Mobile. Stick to the meat and potatoes of being an edge...and spend some time with Luke Richesson. Look him up if you don’t know he is.

Tyrus Bowser is someone a good coach should like to get a chance to work with, mold him and coach him up. As a former basketball player, he’s got the agility, quickness and ability to learn. I’ve seen him play live and he’s like Rod Johnson, where you think, hmm, by Jove, I think he’s got it.

Zach Cunningham is aggressive, a strong run blocker, fast and unlike most of the other prospects, he can be used in coverage on the outside. One thing that he does well and doesn't get enough love for, is his ability to take on TE’s. Something our defense lacked last year. I doubt he makes it to our second pick.

Rueben Foster is someone that Elway should take if he’s still there at 20. Even over RB and for sure over LT. He’s a first round guy with a lot of press, so will move on.

Hassan Reddick is considered by many as the top linebacker, so like Foster, wont write more as there’s enough press.

Hardy Nickerson. Lots of players don’t grow up to rival or be better than their parents, but they do grow up with a better knowledge of the game (see McCaffrey). Especially when coached by their famous parents. ‘Jr’ may have a tougher road because his size is an issue in today’s NFL, but he has the same competitiveness and sometimes, that’s all you need to beat out the better suited athlete. Mentality wins.

TJ Watt, like Walker, I’m not unbiased about. His brother made sure of that. I am a JJ homer. Flat out, unapologetic homer. I say we snatch Romo and then send him to Houston for JJ. That’s a trade I’d lose my mind over. Moving on, TJ would be a great fit for us and can be a real outside guy. Don’t have to talk about his strength or athleticism, that’s a Watt given, but he’s another player who’s on the ascent. No question he hasn't reached his ceiling. He’s someone that can be coached up, which he needs. Two knee injuries set him back two years, so look for him next year to be a playmaker.

Chase Kuntzsch

There you have it, my meat and potatoes players. A list I’m sure we don’t all agree on. I left some names off for the sake of brevity or their upside put them out of our reach, or they’re wrong for our scheme or I flat out don’t them. Some names I missed because I have a job and only so many hours in a day to watch film.

Be nice in the comments, my set of armor is at the blacksmith’s getting repaired.

This post first appeared on Mile High Report, A Denver Broncos Community, please read the originial post: here

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NFL Draft Preview: Defensive line and linebackers


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