Anyone watching the Denver Broncos play in 2010, saw a defense that got beat up and dominated in the running game. Also seen was a lack of pressure on the opposing quarterbacks. Much of this had to to with injuries, notably Elvis Dumervil, but the failure to address the Defensive Line through the draft over a large time span has caused a depletion of talent. The personnel that the team has brought in, has been in the form of aging veterans on the downside of their career as a Band-Aid. The results of this were a last place ranking in the NFL in 2010 and now the Broncos cannot afford to wait for Godot. Possessing the second pick in the upcoming draft, the Broncos are sure to obtain an impact player, hopefully on the defensive side of the ball. There has been talk of drafting Nick Fairley, Marcell Dareus, Da'Quan Bowers or Patrick Peterson. Any way you slice it our team could use an upgrade from Select to Prime Grade Beef on the D-Line. In this post I have assembled a list of available Defensive Ends that come from a 4-3 defense, since the odds are increasing that the Broncos will return to this scheme. They are listed at the position on the depth chart of their corresponding team. I realize that players move and switch positions, but for the sake of the closet General Managers out there making up their Mocks, this should assist you in your overall strategy. The next post will have the 4-3 Defensive Tackles.
Ray Edwards is the starting LDE for the Minnesota Vikings. He is 6' 5", 268 lbs, Age: 26 and in his 5th year. His 2010 Salary was $2.521 million.
Edwards made a name for himself with a terrific season in 2009. He was tendered with a 1st round tag with no takers because his numbers were felt to be a product of having 3 Pro Bowlers playing next to him. Ray had a slight dip in Tackles, but his Sack numbers were just as good in 2010. He has excellent size, speed, quickness and is very athletic overall. Edwards gets a great burst off the snap and can overpower linemen. He is fluid and elusive when blockers try to lock on. He does have a tendency to overrun some plays and miss tackles. He takes too many gambles off the edge and could improve against the pass. He is considered to be an above-average starter with some character issues. He has been fined a few times and was suspended by the NFL for four games for violating the NFL's policy on steroid use.
Richard Seymour is listed as the starting LDT for the Oakland Raiders, but most Bronco fans know that he also plays the End as well. He is 6' 6", 310 lbs, Age: 31 and in his 10th year. His salary in 2010 was at the Franchise Tag rate of $12.398 million. Massive, strong, and an intimidating force and leader on the D-line, Seymour plays with a real edge. He moves well, makes plays in pursuit and gets penetration off the snap, moving inside his blocker to disrupt plays. At 31, he has lost a step and doesn't get into the backfield like he used to. This is why he makes a better fit at tackle in the 4-3 scheme than at the end position in a 3-4. Still, Richard is a 6-time Pro Bowler with 3 Super Bowl Rings. It’s very likely that Seymour will remain in Oakland for another short contract, but if he was a Bronco, he wouldn't be pulling Ryan Clady's hair anymore.
Mathias Kiwanuka plays Defensive End for the NY Giants. He is 6' 5", 265 lbs, Age: 27 and in his 5th year. His 2010 salary was $1.776 million. Mathias is an outstanding pass rusher who can play end or tackle. He has great first-step quickness and the power to bull rush. He also twists and stunts well. Kiwanuka's weakness is in pass coverage. He doesn't have top instincts against the run and needs to work on his decision making as he still misses some tackles. That said, he is a very good starter and has a Super Bowl Ring. The Giants love having a deep, talented defensive line, so it would be odd to see them let Kiwanuka go. Even though he notched just 3 sacks last season while starting 6 games, Kiwanuka’s flexibility as a pass rusher from end and tackle allow the Giants to get creative in getting after the passer with just a defensive line. In 2010, he was limited to 3 games because of a neck injury. He still managed 3 Sacks. His season ended November 10th when the Giants placed him on Injured Reserve with a Calf injury.
Charles Johnson is the starting LDE for the Carolina Panthers. He is 6' 2", 275 lbs, Age: 24 and in his 4th year. His 2010 salary was $1.101 million. 2010 was a breakout year for Charles Johnson. He recorded 12 sacks (Tied for 7th in the NFL) and 62 tackles. Charles is very solid against the run and effective closing down the running lanes and forcing the ball carrier to the inside. He's a relentless, effective pass rusher and run stopper. Has an excellent burst from the edge to get around the offensive tackle to wreak havoc in the backfield and has exceptional closing speed to get to the quarterback. Johnson is good with his hands and uses his low center of gravity to leverage against opposing blockers. Charles also shows a real knack to read a screen and drop into the passing lane to disrupt it. Others excel at either pass rushing or the run game, but Charles does both very well because he is so compact and strong at the point of attack. The question for Bronco fans, is will he follow his coach west?
Cliff Avril is the starting LDE for the Detroit Lions. He is 6' 3", 260 lbs, Age:24 and in his 3rd year. ($391,370 Yahoo) 2011: Restricted Free Agent
An extremely active and versatile player that can also line up at linebacker, Avril has excellent raw speed, tenacity and pass-rushing skills. He also displays the mobility and awareness needed to adjust in coverage and pick up the run. His overall technique isn't top-notch because he lacks the poise and execution to explode through the line. Has inconsistencies and still needs to prove he's not an under-achiever. He is a slightly above-average starter.
Eric Foster backs up Robert Mathis at LDE for the Indianapolis Colts. He is 6' 2", 265 lbs, Age: 25 and in his 3rd year. His 2010 was $475,000 and he is currently a Restricted Free Agent. Eric is a very energetic defender who has a surprisingly good technique. He reads plays well, reacts quickly and can stuff the run efficiently. He gets into the backfield occasionally too. He managed 4 Sacks behind a guy who went to the Pro Bowl the past three years. Foster doesn't have ideal size for the position and lacks a good burst to get through the line. He can be too aggressive and will miss some plays at times. He is considered a slightly above-average starting lineman and could surpass expectations if he can get a shot as a starter.
Jacob Ford is the starting RDE for the Tennessee Titans. He is 6' 4", 252 lbs, Age: 27 and in his 4th year. His 2010 salary was $550,000. With a great frame for a defensive end Jacob is a pure pass rusher. He has great focus and aggressiveness coming off the edge and gets after the quarterback. Ford is blessed with an exceptional first step and closing speed, but is invisible stopping the run. He shows a lack of experience and instincts to know when and how to jump in or back off. He is considered an adequate starter.
Stylez G. White is the starting RDE for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is 6' 3", 270 lbs, Age:31 and in his 4th year. His salary for 2010 was $1.375 million. A tenacious, hard-working, focused end, Stylez is a big hitter who picks up the run well and causes turnovers. Has really come a long way after working hard on practice squads early in his career and spending time away from the NFL. A late bloomer and also a bit undersized for his position. Can sometimes get swallowed up by massive or mobile offensive linemen. He is considered an above-average situational end who can start.
White spent 2002-2005 as an Offseason and/or practice squad member of the Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans, New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins and the Chicago Bears. He even made a stop with the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League before sticking with the Buccaneers in 2007. So despite his age, there should be quite a few miles left on Stylez.
Mark Anderson is the 2nd string RDE behind Tim Jamison on the Houston Texans. He is 6' 4", 255 lbs, Age: 27 and in his 5th year. His 2010 salary was $1,015,200 according to Yahoo. Mark has good explosion off the edge. He is very good at reading coverage and getting a jump on defenders. Anderson is a play-maker who's always in the action and usually makes the right decision. However, he lacks ideal speed and muscle mass and may not be able to bulk up much without losing mobility. He is also weak at picking up the run. He is a solid backup defensive end.
Brian Robison is the RDE behind Jared Allen on the Minnesota Vikings. He is 6' 3", 259 lbs, Age: 27 and in his 4th year. He made $550,000 in 2010. An explosive all-around player who is also a superb special-teamer, Brian has a knack for applying pressure on opposing offenses. He possesses a rare mix of power and speed for a man his size. The downside is that he doesn't have the ideal frame for the position. He can get out-muscled and pushed backwards by strong offensive linemen in the running game and isn't a polished tackler. He is a very good backup and/or situational edge rusher.
Victor Abiamiri is a DE for the Philadelphia Eagles. He is 6' 4", 267 lbs, Age: 25 and in his 3rd year. Abiamiri is a big, strong and explosive presence on the line. He is blessed with the size, strength, frame and quickness of a top edge rusher. He could add a little muscle to his frame and work on his shiftiness and he isn't the purest tackler in the game. Victor's biggest downfall is that his development has been hampered by injuries. Considered a decent starting pass-rusher (when healthy). He has been on the PUP list the last two years; August 31, 2010 with a Knee injury and July 30, 2009 with a Pectoral muscle injury.
Dave Ball is a DE for the Tennessee Titans. He is 6' 5", 255 lbs, Age: 30 and in his 6th year. His 2010 salary was $627,280 according to Yahoo. Ball is a big, physical defender who plays with great power and sound technique. He stays low and commands the point of attack. He gets good position as a run defender and can shed blockers. However, he is not a top athlete and doesn't have great initial or change-of-direction quickness. Dave can be stiff and slow-footed at times. Runs on emotion and will get winded and wear down. He is a good rotational D-lineman. Ball was placed on Injured Reserve with hip and concussion issues.
The franchise/transition tag tender amount for Defensive Ends for the 2010 season is $12.4 million/$10.2 million. It is estimated that Julius Peppers was the highest-paid DE last year at $16.7 million. He did sign a new deal after the trade to Chicago.
On 3/5/2010, Peppers signed a six-year, $84 million contract. The deal contains $42 million guaranteed, including a $6.5 million signing bonus. Another $7.5 million is available through incentives based on sacks, Pro Bowl berths, and Defensive Player of the Year awards. Peppers can earn annual $100,000 workout bonuses in years one through five. 2010: $900,000 (+ $12.5 million roster bonus), 2011: $900,000 (+ $10.5 million roster bonus), 2012: $8.9 million, 2013: $12.9 million, 2014: $13.9 million, 2015: $16.5 million, 2016: Free Agent
Jared Allen is another Defensive Lineman with a premium contract. On 4/23/2008, he was signed to a six-year, $73.26 million deal with $31 million guaranteed, including a $15.5 million signing bonus, a $4 million second-year "signing" bonus, and a $4 million guaranteed-for-injury roster bonus in the third season. 2011: $8,979,438, 2012: $11,619,850, 2013: $14,280,612, 2014: Free Agent
Another pertinent contract that should be looked at is 2010's #2 draft pick Ndamukong Suh, the Detroit Lions prize Defensive Tackle. His numbers are relevant because the Broncos have the #2 pick this year and it may be used on a D-Lineman. On 8/3/2010, Suh put his name on a five-year, $60 million contract. The deal contains $40 million guaranteed. Another $8 million is available through incentives. 2010-2014: Under Contract, 2015: Free Agent.
There you have it. A look at another realm of possibilities to improve the Broncos in Free Agency. If they choose Patrick Peterson at #2, they will need to make a run at one or more of these players to look for a starter as well as some quality depth for the rotation. I hope you enjoyed this and stay tuned for the 4-3 Defensive Tackles up next on the agenda.