I'm breaking down our team to look at what we have in the cupboard for this offseason. In doing so, I've gathered a bunch of data from www.nflgsis.com and www.profootballfocus.com to give us some stats to look at as we evaluate what our players did in the 2015 regular season. Also, www.overthecap.com contract info will be embedded when available. I'll add to that a synopsis of each player including their contract situation. Hopefully this helps Broncos Country here at MHR be better educated on the state of the team.
We're going to kick things off with the big guys anchoring the middle of the defense. Keep in mind when talking about nose tackles that the Wade Phillips defense is very flexible at this position. He'll use 2-gappers. He'll use penetrating 1-gappers. There is no standard build for what Wade wants from a nose tackle in his system. He schemes to his talent and that especially shows at this position.
Sylvester Williams quietly had a very solid year for the Denver Broncos in 2015. He may not be flashy. He may not pop off the stat sheet on game day that often either. Nose tackles in a 3 - 4 defense a lot of times don't do that.
Sly doesn't have the burst in this defense needed to get to the QB before our other guys. This leads to a fairly negative pass rush score from PFF.
No big deal really, though. His role on the defense is as a run stopper when we are actually in our base 3 - 4 alignment and he does that job very very well.
What I noticed about Williams is that typically he held his gap(s) well in play. The linemen he went up against didn't have a lot of luck very often moving him off of his spots. He's a solid player who gives consistent production. He also played better in the post-season from what I noted.
The first thing that jumps out here is that 2016 is a contract year for Williams. So while the Broncos like Williams a lot, keep this in mind as we get close to the draft. It may be a good idea for Denver to draft another NT prospect this year and groom them given that defensive linemen usually need some seasoning before they are ready for the rigors of a full NFL season as a starter.
Other than that, there's absolutely no way you cut a contract like this. The dead money is too big when you consider how little depth we have at this position currently.
Darius Kilgo didn't see a ton of snaps this year at about 10%. That being said, with a coach like Bill Kollar teaching this young man you have to be excited about the potential for Kilgo. He may not have seen the field a ton, but those snaps are precious for the development of a player.
Kilgo from what I saw this year held his own when he had a chance. He does appear to me to have more ability to 1-gap than Williams, which if developed well could lead to a lot more headaches for teams preparing for our defense in 2016.
The big thing to look for this year for Kilgo is conditioning, strength, size development, and impact plays. He has all the tools to be an NFL player and I expect good things from him in 2016. His goal should be to at least grow his snap percentage to 25%.
He's a solid depth player for us and there's a ton of upside here based off what we saw of him in his extensive preseason work and the smattering of snaps he saw in a few games for us.
There's really nothing to get excited about here other than we have a young player with a lot of potential under contract through 2018. It isn't prohibitively expensive by any stretch and we have a lot of time to find out just how good this young player can be in the NFL.
Nose Tackle Overview
To start off with, we have two solid players here who fit very well into the team's structure and defensive scheme. Neither of them seem to be big injury risks. The position also isn't one that is on the field for the majority of a season's snaps. Given the current state of NFL offenses, our team spends the majority of its snaps in a sub-package (nickel or dime) to account for the higher numbers of receivers being put into formations of the offensive side of the ball.
What does this mean to us playing arm-chair GM? Basically we probably want to go into the season with 2 players on the 53-man roster that can play NT. Either of these guys growing to be able to handle some DE responsibilities would be a big win, but that's a luxury and not a necessity for the defense.
In summary, this position isn't an area of weakness for 2016. There is something to be said for getting a young player to develop if one falls to us in the draft, but we can feel good about going into the season with these two solid players on the roster.