Even without stud defensive end Malik Jackson, the guys and gals over at Pro Football Focus believe that the defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos own the best defensive front-seven in the NFL.
Pro Football Focus has been reviewing and ranking all 32 NFL teams positional units this offseason. Well, today they took a look at all 32 teams front sevens and ranking them from first to last. The team coming in at number one is our very own Denver Broncos.
Projected starters: DE Vance Walker, NT Sylvester Williams, DE Derek Wolfe; OLB Von Miller, OLB DeMarcus Ware; ILB Brandon Marshall, ILB Todd Davis
Other names to know: DE Jared Crick, DE Adam Gotsis; OLB Shaquil Barrett, OLB Shane Ray
Key stat: Denver recorded pressure on 48.9 percent of passing plays in their sub defense, the best mark in the NFL in 2015.
The reigning Super Bowl champions clinched the Lombardi Trophy with suffocating defense, and despite the loss of Malik Jackson (Jaguars) and Danny Trevathan (Bears), the Broncos still boast a powerful defensive front. Denver is led by a four-strong pack of pass-rushers, but defensive linemen like Walker, Wolfe, and Williams can both eat space to give their edge rushers room and capitalize when teams overcompensate to counter the threat of Miller, Ware, and company. Replacing Trevathan next to Brandon Marshall is the biggest challenge facing this defense.
The Broncos do have an embarrassment of riches at the edge rushing position.
Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller and future Hall Of Famer DeMarcus Ware are the Broncos starters and are arguably the best-starting edge rushing duo in the NFL. Now their two backups include 2015 first-round pick Shane Ray and emerging star Shaquil Barrett.
Both of those two could be starters on most teams in the NFL, but they give Denver Broncos Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips two other edge guys to spell in and keep Ware and Miller fresh.
Brandon Marshall is the leader in the middle of the Broncos defense and first-time starter Todd Davis will be playing opposite of him. Marshall is a proven player, but Davis will need to prove himself this summer. With that said, Davis has looked good in limited playing time thus far.
Along the defensive line, the Broncos are without Malik Jackson but still, have a solid unit. Derek Wolfe played just as well, if not better than Jackson at the end of last year. Now he will need to continue to step up and be the dominant force along the defensive line.
Vance Walker played well in a rotational role last season and will need to continue that this season. Eat up blockers and allow the linebackers to make plays, and stuff running lanes.
In the middle, the Broncos have former first-round pick, Sylvester Williams. He is entering a contract year, so hopefully we get a career year from him this year.
Other names to know are rookie second-round pick Adam Gotsis, veteran Jared Crick, Kenny Anunike, and former first-round pick Phil Taylor.
This Broncos front seven is the best in football and one of the reasons why they will be a dominant force again in 2016. What should worry NFL teams again this year is that we haven't even started mentioning the Broncos secondary that is also the league's best unit.
The orange crush 2.0 is alive and well in Denver.