Drilling in: Defense

© Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos Defensive unit analysis

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- DE Derek Wolfe, DE Adam Gotsis, NT Domata Peko Sr. Backups -- DE Shelby Harris, DE DeMarcus Walker, DE Clinton McDonald, NT Zach Kerr, DE Stanley Maponga, DE Caushaud Williams, DE DeShawn Williams, DE/NT Paul Boyette Jr., NT Kyle Peko.

Much of the Broncos' strength against the run came from up front, with Domata Peko looking young and spry before he suffered a late-season injury. The Broncos need Wolfe to stay healthy and for Gotsis to take the next step in his development. Harris and Kerr provide solid depth. Walker, who struggled last year at outside linebacker, moves back to his originally intended position, which should allow him to use his quickness to his advantage against interior offensive linemen.

LINEBACKERS: Starters -- OLB Von Miller, OLB Shaquil Barrett, ILB Brandon Marshall, ILB Todd Davis. Backups -- OLB Bradley Chubb, OLB Shane Ray, ILB Zaire Anderson, ILB Josey Jewell, ILB Keishawn Bierria, OLB Jeff Holland, OLB Marcus Rush, ILB Joe Jones, ILB Jerrol Garcia-Williams, ILB Bo Bower.

With Ray starting camp on the PUP list as he recovers from wrist surgery, Barrett and Chubb have the chance to play extensively. Barrett, a starter early last season while Ray was injured, will have to hold off Chubb, who looked dominant at times during OTAs. Jewell will have the chance to earn playing time if he flourishes this summer. Marshall has dropped 11 pounds this offseason to improve his work in coverage.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- CB Chris Harris Jr., CB Bradley Roby, S Darian Stewart, S Justin Simmons. Backups -- CB Tramaine Brock, CB Brendan Langley, S Will Parks, S Su'a Cravens, CB Isaac Yiadom, CB Marcus Rios, S Jamal Carter, S Dymonte Thomas, S Jordan Moore, S Trey Marshall, CB C.J. Smith, CB Michael Hunter.

The March trade of Aqib Talib moved Roby up to an every-down role as he plays on his fifth-year option. While Roby has proven he can be an opportunistic and aggressive cornerback, questions loom behind him. Brock has experience, but the Broncos would love to see one of their recent third-round picks -- Langley (2017) or Yiadom (2018) emerge as at least a reliable No. 4 cornerback, if not challenge Brock for the No. 3 role. The Broncos have solid depth at safety, with Cravens and two special-teams standouts in Parks and Carter, both of whom could eventually challenge to start.

Comments