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Denver Broncos Countdown to Kickoff: Robert Ayers - 15 Days

The Mile High Report staff each ranked their top 20 most important players on the Denver Broncos roster. We averaged the rankings and compiled them into a final list that best represented the overall choices. Next man up is Robert Ayers

Doug Pensinger

The Rankings

Overall rank (1-20)

Kyle Montgomery

Bronco Mike

Tim Lynch





Topher Doll

Big Pete

Mr. East

Brain Shrout

Jon Heath




19th N/A 11th





From the Horses' Mouth

Bronco Mike

No one replaces Von Miller, but it isn't a stretch to think that Ayers could alleviate the loss of Elvis Dumervil. Ultimately, I think any pass rush prowess he might show will be from the inside, just as it's been throughout his career. Ayers is a power rusher, not a speed/finesse rusher, and those power moves are only going to work against guys with no strength on the outside. He stands a better shot in the rotation in sub packages inside. Ulimately though, especially now with Von Miler out, all of that good edge run stopping abilities Ayers has flashed will be very useful. I'm rooting for the guy, 6 or more sacks would go a long way to producing some of the QB pressures we're sure to miss this season.

Big Pete

Robert Ayers is my darkhorse stud in the making. We always look at Ayers with a cynical eye because of a) who drafted him, and b) where he was drafted. However, that is a bit unfair to him seeing he was playing out of position until last year when he suddenly started to flourish. He was never a linebacker, and unfortunately for his development, he was switched to a linebacker to start his career. Talk about being behind the 8-Ball from the word go!

As Ayers got more and more comfortable and acclimated to playing at his natural position in the NFL, you saw his football competency start to rise. He got better against the run, better against the pass, and became more of a threat to linemen which freed up Miller and Dumervil to do their thing. He wasn't a player who could do that before, but again, as he got more comfy in his natural NFL position, he began to flourish.

This year, I expect Ayers to take a jump up in effectiveness. For starters, it's his contract year, but besides that, he finally has a full season of Defensive Line experience under his belt. I'm not here to quote Mike Mayock or anything, but I honestly believe that Ayers can get to 10+ sacks while increasing QB pressures and remain stout against the run. He has talent, but his only flaw was determination. I believe that he has that now, or at least I hope he does. I had him at #13, so I have him a bit higher than here, but not by much. Most of what I'm expecting from his is pure hope, and in times like this (Von Miller Suspension), hope is all we have to cling to besides Manning's jock, right?

Jon Heath

With Von Miller out and Derek Wolfe ailing, the Broncos will look to Robert Ayers, Shaun Phillips, and Quanterus Smith to step up as pass rushers this season. Leading the charge will be Ayers, who has the most experience in Jack Del Rio's defensive scheme. If the Broncos are going to get through Von Miller's suspension without any bumps in the road, Ayers will have to step up. Your move, Robert.

Notable Broncos to wear #15:

Tim Tebow 2010-2011

Brandon Marshall 2006-2009

Jim Turner (1971-1979)

Marlin Briscoe (1968)

Current Bronco wearing #15:

Tavarres King