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Zaire Anderson a major contender to become the Broncos starting middle linebacker

The linebacker from Nebraska spent last season on the practice squad but Denver is really high on him.

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Since March, it's seemed like the Denver Broncos were in a state of flux.

Fans had just a little more patience than new Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler does experience. They all wanted answers yesterday.

Despite the pleas to remain calm and not jump off of the edge, some couldn't or flat out refused. They couldn't see the forest through the trees and were certain that John Elway screwed the pooch.

As is often the case in life, answers started to come and all was right with the world. Elway was, once again, a genius.

Yet one question remains unanswered: Who will replace Danny Trevathan at middle linebacker?

Before we go any further, there's no need to feel concern. The Broncos know what they're doing when it comes to middle linebackers.

The talk the last few days has focused on Todd Davis and Corey Nelson. Perhaps there is some merit to that, since both have entered their third year and know this defense. When Trevathan was out last season, both filled in and the defense didn't miss a beat. So they've proven to their coaches and teammates that they can do it in this system.

One guy to keep an eye on, though, is Zaire Anderson.

The linebacker from Nebraska spent last season on the practice squad but the Broncos are really high on him.

As Andrew Mason said in his mailbag earlier this week:

"(Anderson) is a classic ‘plays-bigger-than-his-measurables' player who has outstanding instincts, is tenacious and always around the ball."

That takes away one of Anderson's perceived weaknesses - his size. At 5-foot-11, some feel he isn't big enough to play middle linebacker in the NFL. For comparison's sake: Two former Broncos linebackers played at 5-11 and 6-0, respectively, and they were pretty damn good. Those guys were Tom Jackson and Al Wilson.

As Mason said, the good linebackers play and seem bigger than they are, and it appears Anderson is one of those guys. Like Bobby Boucher in "The Waterboy," Anderson is a tackling machine. As our scouting report on Anderson said last year, "He's a well-rounded football player. He's a sound tackler, a quick and agile blitzer, and can cover tight ends and running backs."

Some eyebrows were raised when Elway didn't draft a middle linebacker at the NFL Draft a few weeks ago. For some, it meant they moved back to the edge.

The decision not to draft a player at that position only means Elway, his staff and the coaches really like what they have right now. And short of Lamin Barrow, they've delivered at supreme levels when it comes to middle linebackers.

There was concern when Wesley Woodyard left and two unproven players - Trevathan and Brandon Marshall - got their chance to replace him.

As was the case then, there's no need to fret.

Davis, Nelson and Anderson are up to the task.

"Especially in this camp, you can tell the guys that have been here," Wade Phillips said. "They're way ahead of everybody else. We've got some good athletes that have come in and so forth. But they've been trained for a year and both of them look good in this camp so far.

"Just knowing the system, knowing what to do ... and knowing what we ask them to do has helped those guys. Hopefully these guys will follow."

One thing is clear about Elway and coach Gary Kubiak: they love competition. They want guys to earn it on the field, weight and meeting room. Nothing is given in Denver.

There are three guys who could take the spot of Trevathan in this defense.

Just remember to include Anderson in any discussions about the Broncos middle linebacker.