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Broncos Positional Review: Inside Linebackers

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Denver Broncos offseason positional review discussing what the team has based off of 2016 production of players on the team. We'll review stats, eye-test opinion, contract situation, and depth on the Denver Bronco team as we prepare for the start of free agency and the NFL draft.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Denver Broncos Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I'm breaking down our team to look at what we have in the cupboard for this offseason. In doing so, I've gathered data from nflgsis.com to give us some stats to look at as we evaluate what our players did in the 2016 regular season. Also, 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, it’s strengths and weaknesses, and what positions we’ll likely target in free agency and the draft.

In case you missed any of the earlier parts of this series: Special Teams, Safeties, Cornerbacks, Outside Linebackers.

Now we take a peek at the men in the middle of the defense who require a broader skillset than any other position on the defense: the Inside Linebackers. They need to be able to defend the run, pass rush, cover in man, cover in zone, zone dog, and bake bread.

Seriously though, this position is still a very big key for NFL defenses as it is a point that lots of offenses like to attack by forcing them to match up with TEs and RBs in pass routes. So now more than ever, if you want to play linebacker on the inside, you better be able to cover.

Stats

Inside Linebackers

Player Tkl Ast Comb Sack Sk Yds TFL QH Int PD FF FR Snap %
Player Tkl Ast Comb Sack Sk Yds TFL QH Int PD FF FR Snap %
Todd Davis 64 33 97 0.5 2.5 2 4 0 3 1 1 60.8%
Brandon Marshall 39 13 52 0 0 2 0 0 3 0 0 52.3%
Corey Nelson 40 21 61 0 0 2 2 0 5 0 1 47.4%
Zaire Anderson 4 3 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5.0%

Players

Todd Davis

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Contract Info

Todd Davis was one of the most questioned starters coming into the 2016 season. While I don’t look back at his season and say, “Wow...playmaker.” I do see a guy that did a fairly solid job for the team.

His strong suit is run defense and he does well getting his nose on the ball. That being said, when asked to cover, he made plays at times. He also did very well rushing the passer at times.

He’s a RFA this year so look for him to be back on the team as it makes too much sense. He’s a starting quality linebacker who plays hard and is durable. Every defense needs guys like this.

Brandon Marshall

NFL: San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Contract Info

There is no questioning the talent of Brandon Marshall. When healthy, he’s a play making force for the team in the middle. The problem is that he consistently seems to have injury questions from year to year. This year he finished the last 4 games of the season on the bench with a hamstring injury.

Hopefully his injury luck changes in 2017 and he has a big season as he’s the kind of playmaker in the middle of the field that is a difference-maker against the run and the pass.

Corey Nelson

NFL: San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Contract Info

This was the player that most impressed me in 2016 from the defense. Leading up to this past season he is the guy we’ve had on the team that never really flashed to my eyes. Even early in the season he messed up sealing the edge and gave up a TD.

But as the season wore on, his play became very solid and he looked at times like another Brandon Marshall for us. He is one of the more speedy linebackers we have and he really has started figuring out how to read plays and fly to the ball well.

Look for him to play hard in a contract year and make a name for himself. I honestly think he is very capable of taking the starting spot next to Marshall away from Davis if he plays well in the preseason.

Zaire Anderson

NFL: Denver Broncos at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Contract Info

Zaire Anderson was one of our staff’s favorite players in the preseason of 2016. He looks like a playmaker, though to be fair that was mostly against back-up quality players in the preseason. He’s another young player that if he can develop and take a step forward, he can capture a more prominent role on this defense. Zaire is a ERFA this year, so expect him back with the team on the cheap.

Position Overview

When I step back and take a look at this unit, I’m honestly a little underwhelmed. Marshall is a beast when he’s healthy, but the injury bug seems to love him. Behind him we have some guys that can play, but don’t really pop. They seem more like average quality linebackers and depth guys.

Broncos Country has been clamoring for a ILB prospect in the draft I honestly think this is the year where we’ll likely pick a guy up in the mid rounds to come in and compete. I do believe that Elway and Phillips both don’t really value ILBs based off the moves that we’ve seen from the team in the past few years. It will be interesting to see if this new coaching staff values them differently and pushes for a move to shore up this group.

Hit up the comments and let me know your thoughts. Which guy outside of Marshall do you think will start for us in 2017? Is Anderson capable of leaping one or more of the guys ahead of him? Is Davis worse than my eyes tell me?