The Denver Broncos line backer Von Miller sacks the New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez during the fourth quarter of play Thursday November 17, 2011 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. (John Leyba, The Denver Post)
The Denver Broncos really did all they could to shore up the depth at the linebacker position. The problem remains to be the long term options at middle linebacker, where top end players are at a premium and the gap between those few players and the rest is fairly noticeable. We fans just need to be patient and be glad we have a guy in the middle who can at least lay the wood a bit.
Von Miller is something special. I really don’t know what else to say other than that. We should all count our lucky stars that he was drafted #2 overall. He is improving in his read and recognition, so he will be even better this year. The energy he brings makes the entire defense better.
It will be difficult for him to top his rookie campaign, but his impact will be felt in every game. If the Broncos can get similar production in the pass rush again this year combined with continued improvement in his other responsibilities, this defense will be much better in 2012. (Profile)
Joe Mays may not be top end talent at the MLB position, but he can lay the wood as I mentioned earlier. He will miss the occasional tackle, but there isn’t really any player on the roster behind him that can operate the position any better. So in this case, experience trumps youth. (Profile)
This has to be D.J. Williams last season as a Denver Bronco. I just don’t see how the front office can keep giving him chances to get his head on straight with the kind of money they are paying him. You’d think the generous salary would make you want to keep your job. In any case, when D.J. comes back from his rather lengthy suspension, he will still be one of the most talented linebackers on the roster, so look for him to contribute down the stretch as the Broncos (hopefully) compete for a playoff spot. (Profile)
In the meantime, Wesley Woodyard will be filling in for D.J. Williams during the early part of the season. Always the fan favorite as he gets the most out of his talent, but realistically he isn’t a long term solution at the starting weakside linebacker position either. The guy is a tackling machine, though, so the Broncos defense won’t suffer too much from Williams’ absence. (Profile)
The darkhorse to overtake Woodyard on the depth chart is Keith Brooking. The guy has had a career to be proud of, so it comes down to how much left he’s got in the tank. Brooking hasn’t been healthy yet, so no one is sure where he will end up on the depth chart once he is 100% again. (Profile)
Nate Irving seemed to be in on every play during the preseason and it was a pleasant surprise. I’m not sure I like that he is listed under the same position as Von Miller, since that means he won’t be playing much, but hopefully he’ll push for playing time elsewhere this season. Irving just seemed faster and more ferocious than at any time last season. The Broncos may have a keeper in this guy. (Profile)
John Elway and John Fox seemed to nail their offseason pickups at linebacker this year, of which Steven Johnson is one of them. The concerns at depth with the linebacker position were allayed by this college free agent, the signing of Keith Brooking, the emergence of Nate Irving and the drafting of Danny Trevathan. The Broncos have some good things happening here. (Profile)
Speaking of Trevathan, the guy was stellar during the preseason and earned his spot on the roster. As if to add more evidence to the idea that the Broncos may be departing with D.J. Williams in 2013, Trevathan is 4th on the depth chart behind Williams, Woodyard and Brooking. That’s a lot of guys for one position. (Profile)
BT Projected Starters: Von Miller, Joe Mays, Wesley Woodyard (Keep an eye on Keith Brooking)
What do you think of the Broncos linebacker situation? Let Broncos Country know in the poll below and in the comments section. Go Broncos!
Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.