Originally written on BroncoTalk  |  Last updated 11/17/14

Denver Broncos rookie defensive lineman Derek Wolfe during training camp Saturday, July 28, 2012. (BroncoTalk.net photo)

One play, Derek Wolfe burst through the offensive line, sharing a sack of Caleb Hanie with Malik Jackson. A play later, he dove on a botched snap for the fumble recovery.

All this from the right defensive end position. Wolfe was drafted as a defensive tackle.

“I’m playing the call side defensive end right now, the three technique. Just all over the d-line,” Wolfe said. “That’s what I did in college, I played all over the place. I do what they need me to do.”

Versatility wasn’t what the Denver Broncos were looking for when they drafted Derek Wolfe with the 36th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. What the Broncos need from Wolfe — and what they drafted him for — was his notable relentlessness. They need someone tenacious on the defensive line who doesn’t quit. Wolfe fits that bill.

“I’m not the type of guy that’s going to run around you. I’m going to try to go through you,” boasted Wolfe. “That’s what happens when you put pads on. You try to go through people, you try to be physical.”

Wolfe finally had his opportunity to be physical today as the Broncos donned full pads for the first time. In limited work he made the plays noted earlier and also got into the opposing quarterback’s face on at least one other occasion. Those highlights are encouraging to say the least, but if he Wolfe can perform similarly from an inside three-technique position, the Broncos would be even happier.

“Coach (John) Fox said it best, ‘It’s not really football when you don’t have pads on,’” Wolfe offered. “Up front, physicality’s all that really matters. It’s just nice to be able to put your weight on people and for the first time, to feel how I [hold] up to these guys.”

Denver Broncos defensive linemen Robert Ayers and Derek Wolfe look on as teammates participate in drills during the team's training camp practice on Saturday, July 28, 2012. (BroncoTalk.net photo)

Wolfe is still learning, and certain parts of that learning curve will be steep. Defensive tackle is notorious for being one of the most difficult positions for a young rookie to excel at at the professional level — perhaps only second to quarterback. Take Wolfe’s fumble recovery, for instance. Even making a play like that didn’t come without a stern critique from his coaches, reminding him that he’s not in Cincinnati anymore.

“I got yelled at for it, because I fell,” Wolfe said, laughing. “You’re supposed to stay up. In college you’re not allowed to pick it up and run once you hit the ground.”

Critiquing aside, Wolfe showed that his no-quit attitude will offer more than just an unyielding line of scrimmage for the Broncos. His doggedness will open up opportunities to make plays.

“Just do your job and good things will happen, that’s the way I’ve always looked at it. The ball comes to you when you’re in the right spot.”


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