While the Denver Broncos only picked up two defensive players out of their eight draft picks this weekend – a clear recognition where the bigger holes lie – the front office and coaching staff anticipate big things from their day two choices, defensive end DeMarcus Walker and cornerback Brendan Langley.
Both John Elway and Vance Joseph believe they added two tough players to an already tough defense that is always looking for more of the same.
“It’s a tough game, and you want guys with a tough, winning mentality. That’s contagious,” said Joseph after the draft Friday. “You want tough guys, confident guys and guys who hate to lose. That’s important.”
Based on some of their numbers, it’s safe to assume Walker and Langley hate to lose.
Langley, who played corner in high school and then was switched to wide receiver at University of Georgia, eventually moved back to his favorite position and transferred to Lamar University to increase his playing time.
Last season he had six interceptions for 49 yards, and one interception for 86 yards the year prior. The Atlanta native also averaged 24 yards on kick-off returns and 11.7 yards on punt returns.
The “raw” corner is happy to do either/both for the Broncos next season. In fact, he would love to.
“I love returning punts. Returning punts is a little bit different than returning kickoffs. You get a little more room to dance, just a little bit. On kickoffs, you have to hit the hole a little bit quicker,” he said of the nuance between two things the Broncos clearly need some improvement on. “I think I’ll be able to contribute at a high level returning punts.”
Langley knows he has work to do to translate his college production to the NFL, but he thinks the Broncos coaches can help him get to an all-pro level.
“We’ve got some great special teams coaches here who will teach me how to catch the ball, read runners coming down the field, when to fair catch and not to fair catch, things like that,” he added. “I think once I get the grasp of it, I think I can be one of the best in the league.”
Walker’s favorite football past time is sacking quarterbacks (and he’s already mentioned which one he looks forward to sacking the most), and it’s possible he’ll get an opportunity his rookie year if he can display the same kind of finesse he did at Florida State.
“I’ve just got to go out there and earn it. That’s something that I told everybody on the staff,” Walker said about getting playing time on the defensive line. “I’m going to earn it. I’m a hard worker. I don’t talk. I put in the work for it. I’m going to earn it. That’s how I do.”
How he “did” as a Florida State Seminole was downright impressive, logging 16 sacks last season, second in the NCAA, and one game where he posted 4.5 – ironically against Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly, the Broncos’ final pick of the Draft.
Defensive line coach Bill “bear wrestler” Kollar expects that kind of production from the rookie.
“We feel he’s a real good addition for us,” Kollar said. “The No. 1 thing that he does is rush a passer. He had 16 sacks this year, which is obviously very impressive, so we hope to get a lot of good play out of him this year.”
That will be fine with Walker.
“I’m just a relentless player with skills,” he said. “I’m all in wherever they want me to play. I’m going to go after the quarterback to win games.”
Both Walker and Langley play positions that are perhaps the strongest on the Broncos’ defense, and both are ecstatic about that fact.
The potential to improve their game while learning from the best is just too awesome to not to be excited about.
“I’m so happy to be here. It’s a great defense. You guys know,” Walker said before naming the No Fly Zone, Derek Wolfe, Shane Ray and of course, the sack master, Von Miller. “It’s going to be a complete pleasure just to be around those guys and just pick their brains because I really want to learn. I love learning. I love football.”
Walker even admitted that when he was getting welcoming texts from Broncos players like Aqib Talib and T. J. Ward, he was also secretly hoping to hear from Miller too. Just before he went to bed, he checked his phone again – there it was.
“Everybody is texting me, and the next thing I know, I said, ‘If Von texts me, I’m going to go crazy,’ and literally, I was about to go to sleep and something told me to just check my other phone and it was him. I went crazy. I jumped out of the bed and went crazy.”
Langley, likewise, couldn’t be more ecstatic to be playing alongside some of the best defensive backs in the league. As a relatively new cornerback, Langley’s “go-to” for flim study has been the No Fly Zone.
“When I watch film and highlights, I literally watch Bradley Roby, I watch Aqib Talib and I watch Chris Harris. This is the perfect situation for me,” Langley said, adding he has specific qualities he hopes to gain from each player. “If I could take one thing from each of those guys, I would take Aqib Talib’s patience, Bradley Roby’s tenacity and Chris Harris’ feet.”
Marcus Robertson called his new addition “exactly” what he’s looking for at the cornerback position.
“He’s tough, fast and physical. He has an extremely high ceiling to develop into an upper-echelon cornerback in this league,” the defensive backs coach said. “He can also come in right away and contribute as a four-phase special teams player.”
If Walker becomes another Von Miller and Langley becomes another Chris Harris, the Broncos could do a whole lot worse. But right now, Elway and Joseph are excited to bring in two guys with a tough mentality ready to learn.
“I definitely have a mean-streak in me, a lot of physicality,” Langley said. “Being able to contribute not only in the passing game but the running game as well, I think that will be a big part of my contribution.”
Walker even has his sights set on a jersey number that Broncos Country already knows equals tough – No. 57.
“I just love dominating,” Walker said. “That’s one thing that I love to do is to dominate. Just taking the will out of a man in this game football. That’s just something that came natural.”
Did the Broncos defense just get better with this depth?
This poll is closed
On special teams, there’s no question