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Old 03-18-2009, 08:12 AM   #1
montrose
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Default How do we upgrade the DL before camp?

Without any big-time pass rushers available in free agency, it looks like the draft will be our avenue to get better on the DL. Here's what I see when I look at some of the guys:

* Marcus Thomas, DE - I figure Thomas will start this season. He's been getting better and has the potential to be a solid starting DL in the league.
* Ron Fields, NT - While I like this pickup, I think some might be overstating his value just a bit. To me, Fields would be best suited as the #2 NT.
* Carlton Powell, DE - I've got nothing to go off of other than scouting reports. His size and skill set lead me to believe he could be a fit as a 5-technique, but we better not be counting on him to be anymore than a reserve.
* Kenny Peterson, DE - I like Kenny as a nickle DT where he had a little bit of success a year ago. With Nolan going to 4-man lines on 3rd downs, I'm envisioning Peterson and our NT inside with a fresh Dumervil and Moss rushing from the edges.
* Tim Crowder, DE - Big shock here but I don't have a whole lot of faith in Crowder. From the times I've seen him he hasn't shown me that he's got the strength to hold up at the line of attack which is pretty important for a 3-4 DE. I'll be pretty shocked if he makes the roster.
* J'Vonne Parker, NT - I don't know much about him although the fact he was Carolina's roster last year might make him an upgrade over some of the trash we've had under Shanahan. I wouldn't expect much more than competing for a #3 NT spot that might not be available.

I see next-to-nothing from the Clemons', McBean's and Askew's of the world. At this point, I see one starter (Thomas), one reserve (Fields), two possible reserves (Powell and Parker) and a patented Shanahan-bust (Crowder). With moves having been made in the secondary via free agency, and the addition of Andra Davis at LB, it looks to me as if the DL is well behind the other two units. With that, some guys in the draft we could bring in:

* Tyson Jackson, DE - Jackson is scouted as a natural 5-technique and a guy who can more than hold up at the line of scrimmage. I think he'd be a starter from day one and could solidify one of the DE spots for years.
* BJ Raji, DT - Raji is not a natural NT. I think he could play the spot, but it wouldn't be the best fit for his abilities. On the negative side, many of the comparisons I've read equate his skill set to Dewayne Robertson's coming out and Robertson was a failure as a 3-4 NT. On the positive side, beast 3-4 NT Vince Wilfork seems to be of a similar body structure and skill set.
* Ron Brace, DT - Raji's college teammate is a more natural NT with the longer arms the position requires. Obviously he's not the most talented guy or in a league starving for NT's as teams move to the 3-4, he's be more than a marginal 1st rounder. I also tend to be a bit skeptical of the guys who played next to/on the same DL as a top stud in college.

Obviously there are a ton of other guys that will be available later on but these are the names I understand that could come right in and make a good impact filling needs. Do you guys think we have to come away with one of them or can we afford to go into the season with what we've got plus some mid-round rookies?
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Old 03-18-2009, 08:14 AM   #2
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Has Vonnie Holiday signed yet?
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Old 03-18-2009, 08:15 AM   #3
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Sen'Derrick Marks and Dorrell Scott are my favorite names. They'd both start from day one.
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Old 03-18-2009, 08:17 AM   #4
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Raji can't fall to us...can he?
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Old 03-18-2009, 08:19 AM   #5
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Vonnie Holliday and Jason Taylor. Couple those pickups with a defensive line-heavy draft, and we can really make some serious strides. I'm not banking on guys like crowder and/or moss to be legitimate players, as Shanny's defensive drafts and talent evaluation seem shaky at best.
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Old 03-18-2009, 08:21 AM   #6
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I think that when the guy you really want is not there you don't sell out high picks to get a guy to "make-do." If Raji is not a top NT, don't use a #12 pick on him. Get a LB or S or whatever else you need that is worth that value. I think the Broncos should keep in mind, barring miracles, they are not going to the SB next year. This D is totally bolluxed up. We're on the ground floor. I'd much rather see us bring in some basic components and keep building (which is what I see happening) while waiting for the NT we really want. It's like going after top QBs or LTs. Some times you just have to be patient. Depending on what Mount Cody does next year, that is the guy I would target. Maybe the NT we really want is not there this year, but there are some damn good LBs in this draft. Get a couple of the great LBs and scheme around the weakness (if there is one) at NT for a while.
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Old 03-18-2009, 08:23 AM   #7
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I think Carlton Powell is a guy who could slide into a NT rotation, he is primarily a run stopper who uses quickness to get off the snap and controls his lanes very well. He has experience with facing double teams he did so with VT.

Thomas is the best we have so far, which is not really a good position to be in.

Fields is a guy who could work well as part of a rotation at NT, but I don't think he will be more than that.

Peterson is a bit of a flex player who can kick it inside on passing downs or could potentially even be in rotation at DE.

There are a few players out there who could probably come in and add competition, but I think the plan has been all along that we would build the front 7 through the draft.
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Old 03-18-2009, 08:24 AM   #8
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Raji can't fall to us...can he?
Given that he is working out for the Lions, I kind of doubt it.
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Old 03-18-2009, 08:48 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rohirrim View Post
I think that when the guy you really want is not there you don't sell out high picks to get a guy to "make-do." If Raji is not a top NT, don't use a #12 pick on him. Get a LB or S or whatever else you need that is worth that value. I think the Broncos should keep in mind, barring miracles, they are not going to the SB next year. This D is totally bolluxed up. We're on the ground floor. I'd much rather see us bring in some basic components and keep building (which is what I see happening) while waiting for the NT we really want. It's like going after top QBs or LTs. Some times you just have to be patient. Depending on what Mount Cody does next year, that is the guy I would target. Maybe the NT we really want is not there this year, but there are some damn good LBs in this draft. Get a couple of the great LBs and scheme around the weakness (if there is one) at NT for a while.
Well said.
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Old 03-18-2009, 10:27 AM   #10
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If the Broncos are going to a 3-4, improving the pass rush will have to come from the OLB spots, not the DL anyway.
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Old 03-18-2009, 10:41 AM   #11
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I want to see powell at NT. He might be only 300 lbs. But if anyone saw Raji and Brace at the Combine, they know those guys are truly sub 300lb guys. Powell could easily hold 330 the same way they do.
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Old 03-18-2009, 10:46 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by barryr View Post
If the Broncos are going to a 3-4, improving the pass rush will have to come from the OLB spots, not the DL anyway.
While the pass rush comes from the OLBs, the DL is vital in the 3-4. If you've got a crap front three, you can have DeMarcus Ware and James Harrison rushing the passer with Patrick Willis and Ray Lewis inside - you're still going to have some issues.

Last edited by montrose; 03-18-2009 at 10:53 AM..
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Old 03-18-2009, 10:56 AM   #13
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I'd like a mid round pick thrown Sammie Lee Hill's way because he can provide depth at two positions, NT and a Ngata style situational DE, and could develop into a starting NT.

Last edited by skpac1001; 03-18-2009 at 11:36 AM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 03-18-2009, 11:16 AM   #14
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I want to see powell at NT. He might be only 300 lbs. But if anyone saw Raji and Brace at the Combine, they know those guys are truly sub 300lb guys. Powell could easily hold 330 the same way they do.
It is my belief that Powell will eventually become one the best players the Broncos have ever had. Ask any of the Hokies on this board how good he was. If he can come back 100%, he'll be a major suprise for Broncos fans.
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Old 03-18-2009, 11:30 AM   #15
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While the pass rush comes from the OLBs, the DL is vital in the 3-4. If you've got a crap front three, you can have DeMarcus Ware and James Harrison rushing the passer with Patrick Willis and Ray Lewis inside - you're still going to have some issues.
The DL in a 3-4 main job is to be stout against the run and occupy blockers against the pass to help your pass rushers and blitzers get favorable matchups. You need more than just crap on the DL of course, but the majority of the positive plays on defense are going to be made by your LB's, not DL. So you must have LB's who can make plays or your 3-4 won't be much no matter who is on the DL.
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Old 03-18-2009, 11:32 AM   #16
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Old 03-18-2009, 11:34 AM   #17
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Raji's best comp to me is Haloti Ngata, a guy who can play the NT in either the 4-3 or the 3-4, but if you try locking him into either you probably aren't going to get ideal production. In a hybrid you can mix him into gap filling and pass rushing well enough to get some real impressive production.

I'd be real happy with him as our #12 pick if he's there, but he probably won't be.

I think our best choice for NT is to make a run at Gabe Watson post-draft, so we'll owe Arizona our 2010 second, and get to keep our 2009 pick. Other than that Ron Fields gets to start at NT and we skew a bit more heavily to the 4-3 front instead of the 3-4 front in our hybrid.

At the DE spots I'd like to see us add some good 5-tech prospects in the later rounds. I like Rulon Davis and Zach Potter for that role. If Jarron Gilbert is at our 2nd rounder I'd be pretty tempted.

I'd be a big fan of getting Khalif Mitchell and/or Sammie Lee Hill because they both look like solid prospects in either 5-tech DE or NT roles. Lot of raw talent, but neither will probably be an '09 difference maker.
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Old 03-18-2009, 11:36 AM   #18
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Quote:
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If the Broncos are going to a 3-4, improving the pass rush will have to come from the OLB spots, not the DL anyway.
successful 3-4 D's have talent that can pressure when only rushing the 3 DL.

right now we have no LB that is a proven pass rusher.
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Old 03-18-2009, 11:37 AM   #19
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The DL in a 3-4 main job is to be stout against the run and occupy blockers against the pass to help your pass rushers and blitzers get favorable matchups. You need more than just crap on the DL of course, but the majority of the positive plays on defense are going to be made by your LB's, not DL. So you must have LB's who can make plays or your 3-4 won't be much no matter who is on the DL.
You won't get an argument from me that the LBs are the playmakers. With that, I don't think we have enough talent on the DL right now to run a 3-4 defense that wouldn't be in the bottom three of the league.
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Old 03-18-2009, 11:38 AM   #20
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successful 3-4 D's have talent that can pressure when only rushing the 3 DL.

right now we have no LB that is a proven pass rusher.
Yep, which is why I think the biggest need on defense is OLB's that are pass rush types. Plus, ILB's that can blitz effectively and can beat RB's who sty in to pass protect.
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Old 03-18-2009, 11:39 AM   #21
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You won't get an argument from me that the LBs are the playmakers. With that, I don't think we have enough talent on the DL right now to run a 3-4 defense that wouldn't be in the bottom three of the league.

Agreed, not at LB either.
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Old 03-18-2009, 11:40 AM   #22
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Raji's best comp to me is Haloti Ngata, a guy who can play the NT in either the 4-3 or the 3-4, but if you try locking him into either you probably aren't going to get ideal production. In a hybrid you can mix him into gap filling and pass rushing well enough to get some real impressive production.

I'd be real happy with him as our #12 pick if he's there, but he probably won't be.

I think our best choice for NT is to make a run at Gabe Watson post-draft, so we'll owe Arizona our 2010 second, and get to keep our 2009 pick. Other than that Ron Fields gets to start at NT and we skew a bit more heavily to the 4-3 front instead of the 3-4 front in our hybrid.

At the DE spots I'd like to see us add some good 5-tech prospects in the later rounds. I like Rulon Davis and Zach Potter for that role. If Jarron Gilbert is at our 2nd rounder I'd be pretty tempted.

I'd be a big fan of getting Khalif Mitchell and/or Sammie Lee Hill because they both look like solid prospects in either 5-tech DE or NT roles. Lot of raw talent, but neither will probably be an '09 difference maker.
Raji is a guy I think you can play at any position along the DL. He could play anything from 0 to 5 technique.

When you have his size, athleticism and quickness there is not a lot you can't do, he can play a single gap undertackle or a 2 gap nose guard, but I think he would be best in the 1 gap. I think if you line him up a bit crooked on the center he can be really dangerous. Because of his size and quickness the center and guard would both have to be very mindful of him going between them and he could simply bull the center if wants to try to get a single block situations.

I think we will see at least 3 draft picks on the front 7 and at least one of them will be a first day pick.
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Old 03-18-2009, 11:49 AM   #23
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To upgrade at DL, that will come in the draft.

The D is improved in the secondary already with S's that can take proper angles on a ball carrier, CB's that can tackle, an upgrade at LB, and some better interior DL.

Sure the team still needs a stud 3-4 OLB, but that can be addressed in the draft. There's some draftees available that seem like they can do well as 3-4 OLB - Kruger, Barwin, Ayers. I don't know what the FO will do with the #12, but there's a lot of good D players available in the draft in rounds 1-3. It's gonna be interesting.

Crowder and Moss still have some potential as backups as 3-4 DE's, IMO, maybe as starters, maybe. I don't see either as a starter at 3-4 OLB. Elvis I can picture as a starter at 3-4 OLB, he has the speed, ferocity, athleticism.
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Old 03-18-2009, 12:06 PM   #24
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I think we will see at least 3 draft picks on the front 7 and at least one of them will be a first day pick.
I think if I don't see at least one first day pick spent on the DL I might react in a similar manner to that Packers fan video that was posted a while back.

I agree that Marcus Thomas is probably penciled in as the starter at one of the DE spots. He looked good from what I saw in limited snaps this season, which was pretty much the only positive reaction I had to that whole 3-4 experiment.

As for Peterson, I had always heard that he was better suited to play 3-4 DE instead of NT, but if he's versatile enough for either I say give him a shot. He was a definite candidate for our best DL player last year (Kind of like being the tallest guy at a midget convention, but still).

Powell definitely intrigues me. He seems a bit small, but looking at his stats and watching some of his highlights he seems like he could be well-suited to NT. I definitely want to see what he can do. And I literally had forgotten Tim Crowder existed until montrose mentioned him, so that may show you my opinion there.

I would love to bring Vonnie Holliday in if we still could-he's an older guy, but a respected team leader and could be a mentor at a position we desperately need mentoring at. Does anybody know if we even made him an offer? I literally heard nothing about his visit.

As far as the draft goes, if Raji fell to us I would snap him up, but that's a pipe dream at this point. Correct me if I'm wrong, but general draft consensus seems to be that Tyson Jackson would be a bit of a reach at 12, while Ron Brace probably won't make it to 48, right? If so I'd definitely like to see some sort of move back in the first, move up in the second scenario so we could land Jackson and Brace. But again, that may be unrealistic.

Can't say I'm too familiar with the later-rounders, but I definitely like what I've seen from Sammie Lee Hill and Terrance Taylor, so they'd be worth a look if we can't get Brace.

And it may be the complete Buffalo Homer in me talking, but I'd like to see us take a chance with a late-round pick on George Hypolite. He seems like he could have upside at NT, and he dealt with double teams a lot at CU. He was probably their best defensive player (which, again, is like being the coolest guy at a Trekkie convention, but there you have it).

Whew. I think that all my Broncos ad Draft talk has been bottled up for a while with this McCutlergate. That was therapeutic.
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