Defensive End is a unique position for Denver. On the one hand, it is the most heavily invested defensive position ($19.442M in 2011 against a next best of $13M at CB), yet in 2010 we saw that if a Cornerback or two missed reps, the backups could still get it done. Not so at DE where the lack of DOOM, and then eventually Ayers led to a production total so low it causes a triple take.
Is the outlook any better in 2011? We know that Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers have two of the slots locked up, and we know that injury upheaval at DT could squeeze the roster numbers across the DL more than we might like. And we know that behind the starters we have four guys battling. Hard.
Projected number of Defensive End slots up for grabs: 2
- Jason Hunter: I had him listed with the group of bubble players before the game, based on his the Broncos' depth chart estimation of him (3rd string LDE) but after watching the game, there is simply no way that Hunter is not a lock. He was clearly on a different level from the players around him. I had him at 9 attaboys in a row to start the game, both run and pass, and had to continue his list of good deeds onto a second page. He is a snap anticipator, and as a result looks very quick off the line. He was relentless pushing into the pocket, was driving back TEs and OTs both, broke a couple double teams and was flying around the LOS. Projection: No brainer to take one of the final two DE roster spots.
But these are just my projections. In a group with some real talent, both raw and developed, tough choices will need to be made. What would you change? Is this a better grouping than 2010?