If there is one area that is loaded with premier talent and depth in the 2019 NFL Draft the defensive line class is undoubtedly it. That’s a good thing for the Denver Broncos who will certainly be in the market early on to acquire more talent in their trenches on the defensive side of the ball. Let me elaborate on that.
The Broncos’ currently have six players on their active roster on the defensive line: Domata Peko Sr., Derek Wolfe, Adam Gotsis, Zach Kerr, Shelby Harris and DeMarcus Walker. First and foremost, Peko Sr. and versatile backup defensive lineman Kerr will be free agents at the end of this season. Additionally, defensive ends Gotsis and Wolfe are set to hit free agency at the end of the 2020 season. One should expect the franchise to retain Shelby Harris on an affordable one-year restricted free agent contract, but also be concerned with the lack of opportunity and playing time for second-year defensive end DeMarcus Walker.
Without question, the Broncos have a lot of unknowns moving forward on their defensive line. How many of the aforementioned will they retain long-term? Not only that, if the Broncos do end up making a coaching switch in the future that could mean significant changes for the defensive side of the ball in respect to schematics. Would the Broncos remain a 3-4 defense or will they switch to a four man front?
Either way, the franchise would be smart to take advantage of the talent in the upcoming NFL Draft to fortify their defensive line for the future. That being said, most of the talent in the defensive trenches will rely upon the declarations of underclassmen. Though with teams always in need of pass rushers and talented prospects on the line you should expect many of the following players to declare. I won’t be offering preliminary reports on them, but just want to give Broncos Country a heads up on the crazy amount of prospects in the defensive trenches.
Nick Bosa of Ohio State is widely-regarded as the top prospect in the draft regardless of position and is a mortal lock to be a top selection. He has already declared for the draft and will most certainly not be an option for the Broncos, but is unquestionably the blue-chip prospect that highlights a talented group of defensive ends. The ACC boasts handful of prospects who could all be first-round selections in Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell, Florida State’s Brian Burns, Boston College’s Zach Allen and University of Miami standout Joe Jackson. If the Broncos are interested in upgrading their pass rush, those are all players they need to consider. Day two prospects at the position to keep your eye on are headlined by a crop of seniors such as Charles Omenihu of Texas, Austin Bryant of Clemson, Cece Jefferson of Florida, Carl Granderson of Wyoming and Corbin Kaufusi of Brigham Young.
Dre'Mont Jones is the highest-graded defensive player at the midway point of the season in the Big Ten – representing the Midseason All-B1G Defense— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 17, 2018
For the full team (and second team) ⬇️ ⬇️ https://t.co/kW8ElZSGyS pic.twitter.com/Rq8jmFeYmt
The immense talent available doesn’t stop there. The prospects on the interior of the defensive line is just as good. Ed Oliver of Houston is often spoken of as the top man in the class, but Quinnen Williams of Alabama may give him a run for his money. Williams’ teammate, Raekwon Davis is also a top-tier talent. I can’t forget to mention versatile Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary either. Other first-round caliber prospects include: Dre’Mont Jones of Ohio State, Jerry Tillery of Notre Dame, Jeffery Simmons of Mississippi State (character concerns could drop him significantly, but he is extremely talented), and the Clemson duo of Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins.
Folks, it’s highly unusual for that many defensive line prospects to be so highly-regarded. While I expect a handful of the juniors above to head back to school, I believe many of them will take their talents to the next level and make this year’s draft class unprecedented in respect to how many defensive lineman are taken in the first round. It has the makings of being one of the best all-time and the Broncos would be fools to ignore it given there future need for reinforcements inside and out.
Which of the aforementioned prospects would you love the Broncos to acquire in the 2019 NFL Draft? Sound off in the comments section and make your draft voice heard.