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Robert Ayers: "I was misused"

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We're in the time of year where NFL personnel try and project college talent into NFL roles. After his tenure with Denver, former DE Robert Ayers is convinced his lack of production is due to him being misused early in his career.

Doug Pensinger


"I feel like the opportunity was given to me [last season] to play at a position that [allowed me to] maximize my ability. Before, it wasn't always that," said Ayers, who had flipped between a 3-4 defensive end and outside linebacker and 4-3 defensive end as the Broncos changed defenses throughout the years.

"I feel like I was out of position a lot of times but last year when Von was suspended, they had to play me. I was put in the situation and I was able to capitalize," he said.

"When he came back, I didn't play. And when he got hurt, I played again and I was able to perform at a high level again -- at a premier position. I've got to give coach [Jack] Del Rio a lot of credit for understanding that when he first got there. He put me at [the] position that I should have been in and he knew that, so I have to give him a lot of credit. Like I said, [it was] just the opportunity that was given to me."

Ayers was made the 18th overall pick in 2009 by former coach/GM Josh McDaniels.  At the time, the Broncos played a 3-4 defense and Ayers was used early on as an OLB.  Later on before Del Rio, he played the position Derek Wolfe now plays-closed end.  This role is much different from the pass rushing spot Dumervil and Von Miller have occupied on the defensive front.  The role plays into a hybrid under defense that incorporates responsibilities up front from both the 3-4 and 4-3 point of view.

Ayers had a fine season last year in a reserve role and actually recorded a higher PBP than full time starter Shaun Phillips.

In New York, it seems as if he will be utilized in the same role that caught coaches' attentions during Senior Bowl week way back in 2009.