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Broncos No Bull Roster Status Part 2: Linebackers

A No Bull look at the current Denver Broncos roster, its strengths, weaknesses, and what we can expect to target in free agency and the draft.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

With the season over and a huge change in coaching regime for the Denver Broncos, it is a great time to step back, take a look at the roster, and play a little armchair GM before free agency. All of this is my own personal opinion based off what I’ve seen from the players on the field.

Next up, we are taking a look at the Linebacker units to see what holes the Broncos should be looking to fill in the 2019 NFL offseason.

Player Rating Key:

1 - Project / developmental - lacking necessary skills to contribute as it stands today

2 - Backup quality - Can play, but isn’t a guy you want out there every snap

3 - Mediocre starter - Doesn’t bring anything special to the table, but is able to do the job

4 - Good starter - An above-average talent

5 - Blue chip player - Top 10 talent in the NFL at what he does

Unit Rating Key:

1 - Blow it up - the Broncos have nothing NFL quality to work with

2 - Severely lacking at least one starter

3 - Mediocre need

4 - Solid talent and depth

5 - Elite talent level

Outside Linebackers:

2018 OLB Stats

No. Player Age Pos G GS Snaps / % Int Yds Lng PD FF FR Yds Sk Comb Solo Ast TFL QBHits
No. Player Age Pos G GS Snaps / % Int Yds Lng PD FF FR Yds Sk Comb Solo Ast TFL QBHits
58 Von Miller 29 OLB 16 16 844 / 78.4% 1 42 42 3 4 3 3 14.5 48 29 19 14 26
55 Bradley Chubb 22 OLB 16 16 844 / 78.4% 0 0 0 1 2 1 4 12 60 41 19 14 21
48 Shaquil Barrett 26 OLB 13 0 275 / 25.5% 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 3 28 22 6 6 7
56 Shane Ray 25 OLB 11 0 253 / 23.5% 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 10 6 4 1 1
46 Jeff Holland 21 OLB 3 0 43 / 4% 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 1 5 0 0,

Von Miller - 5

This is an NFL elite talent in his prime. Von Miller is a legitimate franchise player who is a threat to change every game he plays in.

There are only one or two players in the NFL today who you could legitimately argue as possibly being better pass rushers. He’s a great edge defender against the run, and has shown great ability to play pass defense as well on those few occasions that the scheme calls for him to drop back.

The notion that Von Miller is going anywhere is absolutely absurd. I don’t see any team willing to give enough to make it worth it to the Broncos (I’d start talks at 2 1sts and some change).

Bradley Chubb - 4

Bradley Chubb was everything advertised during the draft hype of 2018. He’s an NFL elite talent at the start of his career and had a supremely impressive rookie season.

Watching his film, there are times that you can see him make a mistake at setting the edge or not getting enough push in his pass rush, but those few times that stick out can be answered with one simple phrase: This was his rookie season.

But let’s be real: his pass rush ability is impressive. He’s good against the run as well. Having a guy like this across from Von Miller is just not fair to the rest of the NFL honestly. Look out for Chubb next year. He’s going to have a full offseason of development to add muscle and hone his craft.

UFA Shaquil Barrett - 4

Those of you who have been reading me for awhile here know that I’m a big-time Shaquil Barrett fan. As an undrafted player he’s been a joy to watch pour his heart and soul into this game.

Sadly, I don’t see any way the Broncos will be able to keep him this offseason. He wants to start and he is absolutely that good. The only reason he doesn’t start in Denver is because of the extreme talent ahead of him at OLB.

UFA Shane Ray - 2

Shane Ray lacks severely at being an effective OLB and he always has. He’s got real pass rush skill, but that is overshadowed by his inability to get off blocks, set the edge, and do the physical things that need to be done at the NFL level.

The hope for us is that his agents drum up a story about how he was misused in Denver (he wasn’t). The Broncos won’t be signing him, but the possibility exists that he gets signed to a team short on pass rushers and is able to make an impact which will lead to a possible complimentary pick for the Broncos.

Jeff Holland - 1

Jeff Holland is a developmental prospect for the team. He’s peaked the interest of a couple of our staff’s draftniks, but the team has been hard up finding room for him on the field in 2018. He’s a guy to watch in training camp though. With the departure of Barrett and Ray, there’s a definite need for a rotational OLB and Holland needs to seize the opportunity and rise to the occasion in order to get to the next level of his NFL journey.

Aaron Wallace - 1

Aaron Wallace is a practice squad guy the team picked up late in December. Again, the Broncos have depth needs and Wallace is a guy who has been in the league a few years and can provide depth.

Overview - 3

While we have two great starters, the team is going to need at least one more guy who can handle ~250 snaps next season along with Holland. I think this is a good place to bring in a depth FA in order to bolster the numbers. The Broncos could draft a guy as well, but with Miller and Chubb, what’s the big gain by doing that long term?

Inside Linebackers:

2018 ILB Stats

No. Player Age Pos G GS Snaps / % Int Yds TD Lng PD Sk Comb Solo Ast TFL QBHits
No. Player Age Pos G GS Snaps / % Int Yds TD Lng PD Sk Comb Solo Ast TFL QBHits
51 Todd Davis 26 ILB 16 16 842 / 78.2% 1 20 1 20 7 0.5 114 80 34 6 5
47 Josey Jewell 24 ILB 16 9 459 / 42.6% 0 0 0 0 3 0 58 38 20 4 0
54 Brandon Marshall 29 ILB 11 7 469 / 43.5% 0 0 0 0 1 0 42 22 20 0 0
43 Joseph Jones 24 ILB 16 0 25 / 2.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0 15 12 3 0 0
40 Keishawn Bierria 23 ILB 16 0 18 / 1.7% 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 3 2 0 0,

Todd Davis - 4

Todd Davis’ extension has to be one of John Elway’s smartest moves in 2018. Davis had his most productive season of his career in 2018 and looked like a LB stud.

Historically Davis’ weak point was his speed and ability to cover laterally, but I’m here to tell you that people who still talk about that are absolutely bat-shit blind or ignoring the film. Davis was no liability in pass coverage in 2018. Did he get beat, sure. But he made far more solid coverage plays than he got beat and I find it very likely he’ll be a day 1 starter at ILB for us in 2019.

Let me also mention he’s an elite run defender who is great at diagnosing run plays and attacking the right gap play after play.

Brandon Marshall - 2

Brandon Marshall honestly should be thrown in jail because he’s straight up fleecing the Broncos. Since signing his contract extension, he’s mailed it in season after season and hindsight tells us the Broncos should have let him go instead Danny Trevathan years ago.

But here we are today and as you can see his contract makes it pretty hard for the team to get rid of him. The best thing that can happen for the Broncos is for the new coaching staff to somehow get him back to being interested in being all-in on NFL football so he can contribute because he’s always had the talent to do it at a high level.

I don’t see that happening though and as a house cleaning measure, I think the best move for the team is to cut loose of Marshall and move on. Nothing he showed in 2018 on the field insinuates that he can be the kind of LB that Fangio needs to have a successful defense.

Josey Jewell - 3

Josey Jewell put in some really good work this season and as the stats show, his play outshined Marshall’s even as a rookie.

The big issue that Jewell needs to solve is speed / quickness. He makes his living from his excellent ability to understand offensive and defensive schemes, diagnose what he needs to do, and be in the right spot before the ball carrier gets there. But when he’s in pass coverage or the run goes wide, you can see that there just isn’t the necessary speed in his repertoire to be able to make a big play.

He’s still young and hopefully is able to use this offseason in order to elevate his game, but I’m not overly hopeful based off what I saw on the field from him in 2018.

Keishawn Bierria - 1

I’d like to have a better idea of what Keishawn Bierria brings to the table, but I just haven’t seen enough of him on the field of play at LB. He’s a developmental guy though and the opportunity is there for him to seize with a new coaching staff and a new season ahead of him.

ERFA Joseph Jones - 1

Much like Bierra, we didn’t really get to see enough of Joseph Jones to know what he brings to the table. He’s bounced around the league some as a practice squad player. With his experience, he’ll need to impress the coaching staff to make the team.

Overview - 2

I think we have one starter in Todd Davis. While I like Jewell, I don’t think he really fits what Fangio historically likes to have at LB. Look for the Broncos to draft some talent here and possibly sign a FA to bolster the unit this offseason.

Defensive roster status overall:

Defensive Ends 3

Nose Tackles 1

Outside Linebackers 3

Inside Linebackers 2