The moment the Broncos announced Adam Gotsis, a defensive lineman from Georgia Tech, as their second draft pick, many fans were thinking, "who?"
But when Gary Kubiak admitted that his defensive line coach Bill Kollar had been begging for Gotsis, Broncos Country let out a collective sigh of relief because A) no on is arguing with the bear wrestler, and B) there is truly a lot of upside to the 6-foot-4, 287-pound defensive lineman. Eh, mate?
During Gotsis' three-year career at Georgia Tech, he totaled 105 tackles, 26 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks and four pass deflections. In his senior season, he totaled 31 tackles, five tackles for a loss, and three sacks in seven games for Georgia Tech before going down mid-season with a knee injury. Gotsis garnered 2015 third-team All-ACC accolades for his performance.
Aside from the obvious advantages to this powerful and athletic lineman is the fact that the moment he was drafted, he was ecstatic about joining not just the NFL's best defense last year but what he called "one of the best defenses in the last 30 years."
"I watched the Super Bowl and I watched the way they play with pride and passion," Gotsis added. "They won that Super Bowl as unit. The whole defensive unit won that Super Bowl. It's just awesome to be a part of that."
This kid may be from Australia, but he clearly knows a lot more than a good many of the current American football analysts who act like it's torture to acknowledge the Orange Rush and No Fly Zone.
Especially when he considers this to be Mile High:
MHR - What can you tell us about Gotsis as a college football player that should have made Broncos fans "all in" on him from the start?
Joey Weaver - From the moment he arrived in 2012, Gotsis has always been incredibly physically gifted for a guy playing interior line positions. Even though he was frequently miscast at Georgia Tech (playing NT at times at only 285-290), he was consistently one of the most productive and effective players on the defense.
The other thing you'll find out about him is that Gotsis is incredibly smart and personable and does a great job with interviews. He's very likable, both on and off the field.
MHR - Once it became widely known that defensive line coach Bill Kollar had been "banging on doors" to draft Gotsis, fan were on board because of Kollar's reputation for improving his D-linemen. Knowing this, how will this be good for Gotsis and the Broncos?
Joey Weaver - Luckily, motivation was never an issue for Gotsis in college. There were never concerns about his effort in practice or during games, and by all counts he did well in the classroom in a notoriously tough Business Administration program. That said, as far as improvement, there's definitely still room for some of that with Gotsis. Luckily, another thing that Broncos fans will appreciate is how willing Adam is to learn and to be coached, so a strong position coach like Kollar could really be what elevates Gotsis to the next level.
MHR - Gotsis' draft stock dropped because of his season-ending knee injury last fall, and Elway said he was thrilled to be able to get Gotsis since other teams were said to be targeting him. Was this pick a steal?
Joey Weaver - I wouldn't say that the Broncos got a steal by getting Gotsis at the end of the second round, but I don't think they reached on him at all, for a couple of reasons.
First, I can't imagine they would've gotten him any later -- there were 5 DTs selected between pick No. 63 and the Broncos' subsequent selection at No. 98. Even with his injury, Gotsis probably has more NFL potential than any of them, and you'd have to figure he would've been taken somewhere in there.
The other reason is, again considering his injury, Gotsis figured to be a second- to third-round pick before going down late in the season. Given the generally positive long-term outlook after his type of injury and his hard-working nature, I have plenty of faith Gotsis will be able to reach his pre-injury potential during his NFL career.
MHR - What were Gotsis' biggest strengths playing for Georgia Tech
Joey Weaver - For his height and weight, Gotsis is extremely lean and generally an outstanding athlete. His abilities to rush the passer and shed blockers from an interior line position are very impressive, and easily two of his best attributes. His athleticism is consistently superior to the guards and centers he faces, meaning he's often able to make an impact in pass defense and demands double-teams regularly. The other thing that helps him (in the passing phase of the game especially) is how well he uses his hands - especially impressive given his relatively limited history with American football.
MHR - What will be his main weaknesses to improve at the NFL level?
Joey Weaver - One of Gotsis's biggest points of improvement will be better handling and fighting off some of those double teams that he faces, particularly in the running game. It felt too often that he was being double-teamed, and immediately taken out of the play. Taking up multiple blockers on the defensive line is hardly a bad thing, but it would still be nice to see him fight through those double-teams at times to make tackles. It's not an issue of effort, either - he just needs some coaching on how to properly handle those situations.
MHR - The Broncos' No. 1 defense lost big man Malik Jackson to free agency. Do you see Gotsis being able to plug in to fill that void as a rookie or will he need some development time to being a starter?
Joey Weaver - Once Gotsis is able to fully heal from his injury, I do see him as a starter as a rookie in Denver. The 3-4 DE role is probably the best fit for him given his frame and skill set, and I think he'll really benefit from more one-on-one blocking situations with a big space-eating NT on one side and Von Miller (or DeMarcus Ware) on the other. If he doesn't end up a starter this fall, I'd expect him to make it onto the field and in the rotation at the very least.
MHR -Gotsis mentioned one of the biggest differences between American and Aussie football was the American football playbook being much more complex. Does the fact that Gotsis played 12 games as a freshman and went on to be a major contributor his senior year speak to his ability to "pick up" a defensive scheme easily?
Joey Weaver - As mentioned previously, Gotsis is a bright guy who did well in a tough major program and managed to play almost immediately upon arriving at Georgia Tech (as you mentioned). I have no doubt that he'll be able to pick up on Wade Phillips' (or anyone else's) scheme relatively quickly, and I expect that within a few years he'll be able to serve as something of a "veteran teacher" type in the film room.
MHR - Gotsis believes his biggest asset to a defense is his ability to play outside, inside, all across the field. Agree? Is he a future Pro-Bowler?
Joey Weaver - I do agree with this. While I think he fits best at either 3-4 DE spot, his frame has plenty of room to bulk up to 310-315 pounds and play NT, and at his current weight, he could even play some OLB in certain packages if asked to. If he were to be moved into more of a 4-3 scheme, he would have the flexibility to play either interior line position and would likely fit very well at the SDE spot.
As far as Pro Bowl potential, I hate to put such big expectations on the guy right out of the gate, but I do think that's well within his potential in the NFL. I expect him to do very well, and I expect him to consistently make his DC very happy with his various abilities.
Let's go to work boss https://t.co/AO620eONEf— Adam Gotsis (@gotsis96) May 3, 2016
MHR - What's an interesting thing we don't know about this kid?
Joey Weaver - Gotsis actually played for the World team in the 2011 IFAF International Bowl, serving as Australia's only representative on that team. In his player bio, it lists his accomplishments to date among other things. His favorite player listed in the bio? None other than his new teammate, DeMarcus Ware.
MHR - Favorite thing about Gotsis?
Joey Weaver - As a Georgia Tech alumnus myself, it's brought me a lot of joy to watch a guy do so well both on and off the field. The same guy who's an intense on-field force that offenses have to plan for, is also a leader in the locker room, a fantastic face of the team for the media, and killing it in the classroom. He's an all-around great guy who's been a real pleasure to watch for the last four years, and who I think will do well in the NFL.