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Assessing the Broncos Roster on Defense - 2012

Continuing on from my roster assessment of the Offense here, this post will take a look at the Denver Broncos personnel for 2012 on the Defensive side of the ball. This is where I believe our team needs to address the upgrading of talent on the field and how to accomplish that with regards to age and economical factors in order to improve for the upcoming season.

Defensive Linemen

DE Elvis Dumervil, Age: 27, 6th year. 2011-2012: $14 million.
DE Robert Ayers, Age: 25, 3rd year. 2011: $880,000, 2012: $965,000, 2014: Free Agent
DT Mitch Unrein, Age: 24, 1st year. 2012: $415,000, 2013: Exclusive Rights Free Agent
DT Ty Warren, Age:30, 9th year. 2011: $1.5 million, 2012: $4 million, 2013: Free Agent.
DE Kevin Vickerson, Age: 28, 6th year. 2011: $1 million (+ $375,000 roster bonus), 2012: $2 million (+ $375,000 roster bonus), 2013: Free Agent

  • Free Agents:

DT Marcus Thomas, Age:25, 5th year. 2012: Free Agent.
DT Brodrick Bunkley, Age: 27, 6th year. 2011: $635,000, 2012: Free Agent
DE Jason Hunter, Age: 28, 6th year. 2011: $715,000, 2012: Free Agent.
DE Derrick Harvey, Age: 24, 4th year. 8/1/2011: Signed a one-year, $600,000 contract. 2012: Free Agent
DT Ryan McBean, Age: 27, 4th year. 2011: $480,000, 2012: Restricted Free Agent

  • Practice Squad/Reserve:

DE Jeremy Beal, Age:23 , 1st year. 1/16/2012: Signed a reserve/future contract.
DT Jeremy Jarmon, Age:24, 3rd year.1/2/2012: Signed a reserve/future contract.
DT Sealver Siliga, Age:21, 1st year. 1/16/2012: Signed a reserve/future contract.

Summary: Dumervil and Ayers are solid against the pass and run respectively, but need to improve the other half of their game. Vickerson will be back from injury and contribute in the rotation. Who knows what we'll get with Ty Warren. He hasn't been on the field very much in the past two seasons. 2011 Starting Defensive Tackles Marcus Thomas and Brodrick Bunkley simply must be re-signed. Harvey couldn't make it to the Active roster on game day, so there isn't a reason to sign him. Ryan McBean filled in rather well, but he is still a weak link. He and Hunter could be upgraded. Hopefully, one guy will replace them out of Beal, Jarmon and Siliga. That way there is some youth being developed. To be fair, Beal and Siliga will have their first chance at an offseason program to benefit from prior to Training Camp. This group isn't overly old and could definitely use an influx of youth, experience and talent along with some continuity. They have a very good coach in Wayne Nunnelly too. I expect this position to be filled in Free Agency and the draft. The trouble is, with Dumervil tying up a large amount of resource capital, someone like Mario Williams will be just a dream for Broncos fans.


WLB D.J. Williams, Age: 29, 5th year. 2011: $4.9 million, 2012: $5 million, 2014: Free Agent.
SLB Von Miller, Age: 22, 1st year. 7/28/2011: Signed a four-year, $21 million contract. The deal included a $13.7 million signing bonus.
MLB Nate Irving, Age: 23, 1st year. 7/28/2011: Signed a four-year, $2.735 million contract. The deal included a $695,000 signing bonus.
SLB Mike Mohamed, Age: 23, 1st year. 7/27/2011: Signed a four-year, $2.2 million contract.
WLB Brian Iwuh, Age: 27, 6th year. 2012: $700,000, 2013: Free Agent.

  • Free Agents:

SLB Mario Haggan, Age: 31, 9th year. 2011: $1.93 million.
MLB Joe Mays, Age: 26, 4th year. 2011: $555,000.
WLB Wesley Woodyard, Age: 25, 4th year.

  • Practice Squad/Reserve:

DE/LB Cyril Obiozor, Age: 25, 3rd year.1/2/2012: Signed a reserve/future contract.

Summary: The Denver Broncos of the past were known for their terrific Linebackers. At least prior to 2007, when Al Wilson was forced into retirement. And since that day, I have been patiently waiting for the team to fill the oh so important position of Middle Linebacker. The captain of the Defense. The heart, soul, inspiration and emotional leader of the Orange Crush! I'm tired of waiting EFX. Fix it. Fix it now.

Nate Irving is the man drafted to take ownership of that position. He got behind last year due to the lack of an offseason and a short holdout. We will see if he can supplant Joe Mays this summer. Von Miller did what was expected as a pass rusher until his thumb injury hurt his effort to engage blockers. D.J. Williams isn't getting any younger and the team needs a player to develop behind him. Wesley Woodyard fits that bill if Denver opts to re-sign him. The rest of the group needs an upgrade. Mike Mohamed will need to make strides in Camp. Mario Haggan may still have a place on this team as a versatile veteran. The biggest need for this unit is to be able to cover the big versatile Tight Ends without hurting their Run Defense. The Broncos have room to maneuver on expenditures at this position, in my mind and should get an above average guy here. I'd love it if they drafted another Linebacker too.

Defensive Backs

LCB Champ Bailey, Age: 33, 13th year. 2011: $6 million, 2012: $7.5 million (+ $7 million roster bonus due in March)
RCB Andre Goodman, Age: 33, 10th year. 2011: $2.88 million, 2012: $3.42 million, 2014: Free Agent.
SS Brian Dawkins, Age: 37, 16th year. Restructured contract in 2011, terms undisclosed. Old terms were $6 million/year for 2011-2013.
FS Quinton Carter, Age: 23. 1st year. 7/28/2011: Signed a four-year, $2.49 million contract. The deal includes a $455,000 signing bonus.
FS Rahim Moore, Age: 21, 1st year. 7/28/2011: Signed a four-year, $4.448 million contract. The deal included a $1.73 million signing bonus.
SS David Bruton, Age: 24, 3rd year. 2011: $480,000, 2012: $565,000, 2013: Free Agent.
CB Chris Harris, Age: 22, 1st year. 2012: $465,000, 2014: Restricted Free Agent
CB Syd'Quan Thompson, Age: 24, 2nd year. 2011: $405,000, 2012: $490,000, 2014: Free Agent
CB Cassius Vaughn, Age: 23, 2nd year. 2011: $405,000, 2012: $490,000, 2013: Restricted Free Agent.

  • Free Agents:

CB Jonathan Wilhite, Age: 27, 4th year. 2012: Free Agent.
FS Rafael Bush, Age: 24, 1st year. 10/17/2011: Signed an undisclosed contract.

  • Practice Squad/Reserve:

CB Joshua Moore, Age: 23, 1st year. 1/7/2012: Signed a reserve/future contract.
CB Ramzee Robinson, Age: 27, 4th year. 1/2/2012: Signed a reserve/future contract.

Summary: The Cornerback position should be one of the chief priorities to upgrade this offseason. Champ Bailey needs a lot of help here. Chris Harris went from an undrafted free agent to the starting Nickel after injuries to Cassius Vaughn and Syd'Quan Thompson. In my mind, Harris is ahead of Squid, who is in turn ahead of Vaughn. It remains to see who will step up there, but the Broncos should have depth at Nickel and Dime with that trio. They still need to solidify the side opposite Bailey. At Safety, Quentin Carter moved ahead of Rahim Moore, who was drafted before him. It should be noted that Rahim is only 21. Carter is a better fit at Strong Safety, where Brian Dawkins plays. Brian might be forced into retirement due to a neck injury. That will make the leadership position at MLB all the more important because Dawkins is the emotional and vocal leader of the team. David Bruton came on strong at the end of the year and could be ready to push for a starting spot.

There is enough youth on the roster at Defensive Back and I feel the Broncos could address the Corner position through the draft or Free Agency. I do think a good veteran Safety should be acquired in Free Agency though.

Special Teams

P Britton Colquitt, Age: 26, 3rd year. 2011: $405,000, 2012: Exclusive Rights Free Agent.
PR Eddie Royal.
KR Matt Willis.
LS Lonie Paxton, Age: 33, 12th year. 2011: $865,000, 2012: $875,000, 2014: Free Agent

  • Free Agents:

K Matt Prater, Age: 27, 5th year.

Summary: This one is simple. Re-sign both Kickers. There are plenty of options at Returner, but Royal is the steadiest selection. However, Cassius Vaughn, Syd'Quan Thompson, Eric Decker, Matt Willis and Lance Ball have all taken live shots as return men. So if Royal does not return, he can be replaced.

That's my take Broncos Country. What's yours?

Go Broncos!