I was excited because Derek Wolfe is a monster of a player. In his career at the University of Cincinnati, he notched 37 Tackles For Loss, and 19.5 Sacks. Going into his Senior Season, in 2011, Wolfe was considered to be an NFL caliber talent, but maybe a mid-round pick at best. And then he went on to have an absolutely dominant Senior campaign with 70 tackles, 21.5 TFL, 2 FF, and 9.5 Sacks. This performance propelled him to the top of many NFL Draft boards.
I wasn't surprised when the Broncos drafted him, as many pundits in the Daftnik community were. Many felt like the Broncos reached a bit in taking him #36 overall. Wolfe's dominant Senior season and his versatility was a major draw to NFL Teams. Here's a quick snippet from WalterFootball's scouting report on Wolfe:
"If Wolfe is drafted in a 4-3, he could be a versatile defender. He could add some weight and stay at defensive tackle, or he could be a power left defensive end on running downs who moves inside to rush the passer at tackle on passing downs. Wolfe could thrive in either system. He may take a little more development time, but it wouldn't be surprising if Wolfe turns into rock solid pro; a blue-collar defender who does the dirty work to make his defense successful."
Sound familiar, Broncos Country? It's exactly how Jack Del Rio has deployed him so far. The only thing I would dispute in this Summary, is that he's referred to as a probable future "blue-collar defender who does the dirty work to make his defense successful".
I don't dispute the part about Wolfe doing the dirty work because he does do that. In fact, many of Dumervil and Miller's sacks last year came as clean up and/or a result of pressure, or hurries, that Wolfe created. What I do dispute, is that he's blue-collar. This suggests in a way, that Wolfe is something of a solid, Jack-Of-All trades. Nothing Special.
But I see potential greatness in Derek Wolfe. Dare I say, that I see Wolfe as potential J.J. Watt caliber player? I do. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that his production totals heretofore are comparable to Watt's, but Watt has been in the league 1 year longer than Wolfe. When you look at Watt's rookie season and Wolfe's rookie season, the numbers are similar.
J.J. Watt (2011)
56 Tackles, 5.5 sacks, 4 PD
Derek Wolfe (2012)
40 Tackles, 6 sacks, 2 PD
Obviously, they play in different defensive schemes. But they are asked to do similar things in each of their respective roles. What am I getting at?
I've had a feeling that Derek Wolfe is on the brink of exploding on the NFL scene for a while now. Sure, he had a solid Rookie season, but I expect Wolfe to eventually become an ALL-PRO caliber player, like J.J. Watt. He has the skill, he has the size. He might not be as athletically gifted as Watt. But I think the future is very bright for Derek Wolfe.