Hi guys this is the next chapter of my thoughts of what the offseason will bring to the Broncos and how the FO could find solutions for Denver roster needs.
This part is about the OLB depht.
For some years Denver had two WOLB capable of starting (IMO) in its roster: DJ Williams and Wesley Woodyard.
DJ Williams has, together with Champ Bailey, the highest tenure in Denver team. He was also team captain for a while and he was thought to be a force as linebacker. He started the 2011 season injured, so Wesley Woodyard started in his place and did just good.
Then DJ came back and made what is probably his career play at Miami, sacking and forcing a fumble in overtime that then let the Broncos win one of the most incredible Broncos games I saw. After that I couldn’t recall any other monstrous play from him…..but that one was awesome…..it really displayed all his athleticism and skills….and of course, in my eyes, raises question about why he doesn’t produce more of these plays….
The happened the second most incredible Broncos win I saw…..in Denver against the Chicago Bears….and of course, propelling fuel to my analysis, the guy that did the most important play that helped win the game in overtime again, has been Wesley Woodyard. It was not really an athletic play, just a hard-nosed tackle and a resulting fumble, when Denver defense was looking on knees and the Bears poised to win the game with a field goal. Woodyard was there, made a great tackle, the ball was free and recovered by the Broncos. Wow…..just wow.
So now Woodyard is an unrestricted free agent, free to sign for the highest bidder. I don’t think he’ll be a superstar Hall of Famer in the future. What he brings to the table is what we could see these past four years. He is a true football player just not athletically gifted as DJ Williams, but he could be a starter at WOLB for a lot of teams in the league, especially for those ones that use Tampa 2 system. I think he won’t be back in Denver because he will pursue a starting spot, and IMO he deserves it. The only way he could be back in Denver is if DJ Williams is traded or released. Some fans asked for it since a couple of years, arguing his inconsistency as the reason for showing him the way out of town.
I don’t know how to evaluate DJ, really, he played for 6 different coordinator the past 6 years and in 2012 he’d work under the 7th….how could you see improvement if the system is different every year….I think he could still be a real effective WILB that sometimes could put there the big play that change the game, so I see him on the team next year and playing with less mental lapses than in the past (given that Del Rio won’t change that much defensive schemes…).
With DJ in and Woodyard out, Denver will need to find depth for WILB position. Mike Mohammed is said to be working to get bigger and stronger, and if eventually he achieve it, I see him on the active roster, but more probably a SOLB (other position of depth need for the Broncos), more than WILB….he looked slow in pre-season games and he’s little big to big to not try to use him a SOLB.
WILB depth could be find in the draft, Levonte David is being said to draw interest by the Broncos (they interviewed him at the senior bowl) and could be drafted in the 2nd round.
Denver could find other prospect in the lower rounds of the incoming draft or looking for a depth player in FA.
In the latter case two names that come to my mind:
- Chris Chamberlain (Rams) – young, good special team player and solid 2 downs linebacker.
- Ernie Sims (Colts) – former 1st round pick (off course by Millen’ Lions) that didn’t live up to expectations (Bunkley anyone) in the team that drafted him. He could be, if the price is right, a great addition motivated by Bunkley example.
At SOLB Denver used Mario Haggan this past year when Von didn’t play in Minneapolis. He’s a free agent too and even considering that I proposed to develop Mike Mohammed as SOLB, I would like Denver to bring him back. He’s a great veteran that came to Denver under Mike Shanahan, lived McDaniels debacle and still stacked around beck to the 4-3 defense with John Fox. He’s versatile and could play the three LB positions. I think Denver will try to bring in youth competition to push Haggan and Mohammed, the final result it will come out at the end of training camp.
Resuming, Denver will bring to training camp new faces both at WILB and SOLB. How many it depends on how the Broncos will operate in re-signing his own free-agents. I think Denver would like to re-sign both Woodyard and Haggan. Woodyard will explore free agency looking for a starting gig, meanwhile Haggan could accept a veteran minimum contract (2 year contract?) and could stick around. WILD Free agents have some interesting veterans. SOLB is a strange position for Denver, given how Denver uses Von Miller so it will be interesting to see if Denver will try to find a player that could be similar to Von or a more traditional SOLB (Haggan or Mohammed). WILB could be found in the draft at any Broncos pick (Levonte David and Bobby Wagner high) and SOLB could be an option too but not so high (Combine performances could change everything…..).