Defensive tackle has been a position of concern since the beginning of last season, but is it actually in better shape than we fear? The maturation of Marcus Thomas and the acquisition of Dewayne Robertson provide sparks for hope that the DT play will actually be good this season. That said, what does the picture look behind the two probable starters?
Steven Harris, part of the same defensive line as Marcus Thomas and Jarvis Moss at Florida, isn't a rookie anymore and made some contributions at the end of last season after being signed to the active roster from the practice squad.
Carlton Powell, drafted in the 5th round, was dominant in Division I-A, holding opponents to -13 yards on 106 attempts, on running plays directed at him. He also has a degree in Human Nutrition.
Josh Mallard via www.denverbroncos.com
A Mallard Duck via fohn.net
Josh Mallard, having some seriously spooky eyes and the name of a duck, came on strong at the end of the season. Despite playing in only 8 games with no starts, he recorded 20 tackles (15 solo) and 3.5 sacks. In the season finale against Minnesota, he had 4 tackles and 1.5 sacks. In the previous game against San Diego, he had 3 solo tackles and put Philip Creeks on his butt on a 3rd down to force a punt.
Alvin McKinley, anchoring the DL in 2007 (like a fencepost in a tornado), scored modest stats, but played in 15 games, starting 10.
The Scrooge (watch out for those guns) via www.denverbroncos.com
Wait, but thats not all, there is a wild card at Defensive Tackle. His name is Double E, a.k.a. The Scrooge, a.k.a. Ebenezer Ekuban. 2007 was his Achilles Heel, but in 2006, he started 15 games and recorded 78 tackles (61 solo) and 7 sacks. Now that he is recovered from his Achilles injury, he is getting time at Tackle as well as End. He had this to say about playing Tackle: "I like it." Not one to leave it at that, he elaborated by saying:
"I got my feet wet in there two years ago. It's different, you've got to be a lot quicker off the ball, you don't have a lot of time to react -- everything happens right now."
"I can play both (end and tackle) and I hope that's what I can provide for this defense. Be a versatile guy so when someone goes down, I can step in and we won't lose a beat."
There you have it, a Duck, a Scrooge, hope, depth, and some really scary eyes. I'm feeling pretty good about the Defensive Tackle position for 2008. Maybe it's not going to send anybody to the Pro Bowl, but I don't think it's going to be the weakest link this season either, even if a couple guys go down.
*All stats, pictures, and quotes courtesy of DenverBroncos.com