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The ‘wish they were Broncos’ defense

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Who’s the one defensive player in the NFL you wish wore orange and blue?

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Wild Card Round - Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts
Think of Watt like the super Wolfe.
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

As I mentioned last week, I’m an avid Madden player. I tend to spend 10 of my first 11 picks every fantasy draft on defense, knowing full well that I’ll be able to “coach” up a young offense so that it over-performs. Most years I go heavy after corners and pass rushers, filling in the rest of the back 7 with as much speed as I can find.

One thing this, and consistently following the draft, has led to is a rooting interest in a lot of players spread out across the entire league. So what follows is a team of some of my favorite NFL players who would look dapper in orange and blue.

Remember, the idea behind each choice is that they’re added to Denver’s 2019 roster. This mattered a good bit, as I built this team to fit the Vic Fangio defense. To avoid saying “the 2018 Bears,” I limited myself to one Chicago player, but yes, Khalil Mack, Eddie Goldman, Akiem Hicks, Danny Trevathan, and Roquan Smith would fit beautifully with this Broncos team.

Edge Dee Ford - San Francisco 49ers

With both Bradley Chubb and Von Miller on the current roster, grabbing edge rushers is a bit superfluous. However, since I’m not concerned with contracts, Ford makes a ton of sense. According to PFF, he was the most dangerous third down pass rusher in the league last year (strangely enough, the same site does not rank him in their top 50). According to Sports Info Solutions, he finished third in total pass pressures in 2018. Let me just say I’m so, so glad the Kansas City Chiefs dumped him for Frank Clark.

DL Aaron Donald - Los Angeles Rams

If you look beyond positions, he’s the best player in football. ‘Nuff said.

NT Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison - Detroit Lions

Nose tackle is probably the one position up front that could most benefit from a star addition. Word out of Minicamp was that Shelby Harris was running as the Broncos’ nose, and while he was an elite defender last year, I believe his best fit in the Vic Fangio defense is as an interior pass rusher in the nickel personnel. Harris would add beef to the base D at 6’3”, 353 lbs, and he’s been a monster for years.

DL J.J. Watt - Houston Texans

During his apex, J.J. Watt was one of those rare defensive players who had a legitimate argument for Most Valuable Player in the league. While sacks have only been officially recognized since 1982, it remains notable that Watt is the only player in NFL history to notch two different 20+ sack campaigns. Remember, he plays in a 3-4 defense where ends don’t typically boast that kind of production. After two seasons lost to injuries, he came back dominant once more last year. According to Sports Info Solutions, the 29-year old Watt finished 2018 with 41.5 pressures.

Watt is a preference thing as much as any, but with how loaded the defensive line positions are in the league at the moment, I’d take 1) Fletcher Cox, 2) Cameron Jordan, 3) Chris Jones, or 4) Calais Campbell as well.

Edge Matthew Judon - Baltimore Ravens

Haven’t heard of Judon? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. He’s the little-know, edge rusher who’s going to step into the void left by Za’darius Smith’s departure to the Packers. He finished 2018 with almost 30 individual pass pressures and would look dang good complimenting Denver’s star duo.

Linebacker Devin Bush - Pittsburgh Steelers

Linebacker Devin White - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This one may be a bit of a stretch if you’ve watched Luke Kuechly and Bobby Wagner rip up the league for the past few years, but it’s my list, I’ll say what I want to. I had the Devin’s as my 2A & B Broncos prospects in the 2019 Draft. As much as I loved the move down to collect picks and wind up with Noah Fant, it’ll be interesting to see if Bush can transform a Steelers D that badly needs speed at the second level.

Slot Corner Desmond King - Los Angeles Chargers

If there’s one position in the secondary the 2019 Broncos that doesn’t need help, it’s nickel corner. Chris Harris and Bryce Callahan should have those duties covered. Still, gun to my head, I’d take King.

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey - Jacksonville Jaguars

If you knew nothing about football, I’d explain the Jacksonville Jaguars like this: they overpaid backup QB Nick Foles and may not be able to keep Ramsey, the best NFL cover man under the age of 25.

Almost as ridiculous as this:

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey - Baltimore Ravens

If you expected Stephen Gilmore or Patrick Peterson here, sorry to disappoint. I’ll admit if I’d made this list last year, both would be heavily considered, as they’re clean fits into the Joseph/Wade defense Denver’s run in recent years. However, with Vic Fangio’s system, opportunistic corners who tackle are better fits. According to USA Today’s Doug Farrar, Humphrey allowed fewer than half the passes thrown to him to be completed in his two NFL seasons, and his opponent passer rating of 65.0 in combined seasons is among the NFL’s best. Combine that with his easy adjustment to arguably the most complicated coverage scheme in the league and he’d be a great younger addition to the new Fly Zone.

Also, I could care less if he wears 44.

Safety Eddie Jackson - Chicago Bears

Safety Adrian Amos - Green Bay Packers

This may be cheating, as Amos played for Fangio when both were Bears. In the end, I couldn’t ignore how insane this duo looked last season, and Amos was my number one free agent target back in March.

Your Broncos Links

2019 Denver Broncos roster review: Safety Justin Simmons - Mile High Report

No Broncos’ defender will benefit more from the switch to Fangio’s Defense than safety Justin Simmons.

2019 Denver Broncos roster review: Offensive guard Ron Leary - Mile High Report

The Denver Broncos have a solid right guard in Ron Leary, but can he stay healthy for a full season?

2019 Denver Broncos roster review: Kicker Brandon McManus - Mile High Report

The Denver Broncos don’t have to worry about field goal kicking. Unlike a couple of other teams out there.

Andy Janovich will likely see bigger role in Rich Scangarello’s offense - Mile High Report

That could mean the legend of Andy Janovich will grow even larger for the Broncos in the 2019 season.

Denver Broncos Roster Review 2019: Fullback Andy Janovich - Mile High Report

Every year since the fullback joined the Broncos it seems the team has promised to bring back the relevance of the position. This season it might actually happen.

Von Miller highlights: Top 5 pass rush plays - Mile High Report

Von Miller shows off some incredible athleticism in these top pass rush plays of 2018 for the Denver Broncos.

How do you view the Denver Broncos’ contention window? - Mile High Report

The four options:

-Closed and staying closed

-Open, but closing

-Closed, but re-opening

-Open and staying open

Denver Broncos | Top 100

The Broncos Top 100 Team, which features 47 offensive players, 46 defensive players and seven special-teams players

Courtland Sutton among young receivers set to break out in 2019 - NFL.com

Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos Sutton put together a strong rookie campaign for the Case Keenum-led Broncos. His steady production continued even after Demaryius Thomas (traded to Houston) and Emmanuel Sanders (injury) exited the picture in 2018. Sutton finished the season with 42 receptions for 704 yards (16.8 yards per catch) and four touchdowns. Now, Keenum’s out and Joe Flacco’s in. This is a definite upgrade, and I expect the move to pay off. His production should increase, especially in the red zone, now that he has a traditional pocket passer and former Super Bowl MVP tossing him the rock.

NFL Links

Cowboys, Saints among NFL teams in a closing window of opportunity | SI.com

The Chargers deserve credit for not spending ridiculous amounts of money to accentuate their roster, especially given the price tag at their biggest positions of need. That being said, Philip Rivers turns 38 in the last month of the season. Joey Bosa slides into his fifth-year option season in 2020, surely en route to a market-resetting deal. The cornerstones on their offensive line are turning 30 and 31 respectively this football season, Melvin Gordon’s contract expires after this season and Melvin Ingram, now 30, has one more year of significant dead cap space before his future will potentially be evaluated. On paper, one of the best defenses in football is quickly nearing a breakup.

The Case for the Zero Blitz | Football Outsiders

Hopefully this analysis shines a light on just how effective blitzing—the Zero Blitz in particular—can be at disrupting an opponent’s passing game. Unsurprisingly, creating pressure on the quarterback is a major factor in this, and the Zero Blitz has shown to be the best at doing so, since it allows for an extra pass rusher. The fascinating aspect is that this aggressive blitz isn’t as risky as it is assumed to be, allowing a similar big-play percentage as its more conservative counterparts. If defenses want to start dictating play to the offense, the evidence points to further utilization of the Zero Blitz.

Ravens, Saints among teams that might not return to playoffs | SI.com

-Baltimore

-Chicago

-New Orleans

-Dallas

-Houston

Best NFL throwback uniforms that should come back | SI.com

They just don’t make ‘em like they used to. Here are the best NFL retro uniforms our staff would like to see on Sundays.

Shaq Lawson to pay for 11-year-old shooting victim’s funeral | SI.com

Lawson says he will pay for the funeral of an 11-year-old South Carolina girl who died after someone fired over 35 shots at her home.

Jay Glazer’s MVP: Where former soldiers and NFL players heal | SI.com

How Jay Glazer’s MVP program helps ex-soldiers and NFL players alike reconnect with mainstream life. Plus, notes from around the league.

Jaire Alexander among defensive backs ready to break out in ‘19 - NFL.com

Will Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander reach new heights in the fall? Gil Brandt identifies nine young defensive backs ready to break out in the 2019 NFL season.

Robert Griffin: Ravens’ offense to ‘shock some people’ - NFL.com

”I’ve got to make sure I understand the offense, forward and backward,” Griffin said, via the team’s official site. “The offense will look different. I think we’ll shock some people with what we’re going to do. If we need to run it 60 times, we can do it. But if we need to throw it 30 to 40 times, we can also do it. I think that’s what we’re working on, to make sure we have those capabilities.”

Cobb: Packers an ‘ex-girlfriend that broke up with you’ - NFL.com

”It’s like the ex-girlfriend that broke up with you,” Cobb said. “When you see her five years later, you hope you’re in a better situation than you were before -- married, with kids, and you’re able to say, ‘Yeah, I did better without you.’”

MIA Guest: The NFL in a Small Town – ProFootballTalk

A fun look at the NFL in Richfield, Idaho, from the view of Hugh Royal and set at the Little Wood Saloon with an eclectic cast of characters

Eight 2020 seniors get first-round grades from NFS – ProFootballTalk

The eyes are immediately drawn to quarterback Justin Herbert of Oregon, the only passer among that group. The other seven include Washington offensive tackle Trey Adams, Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown, Alabama defensive lineman Raekwon Davis, LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton, South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, Notre Dame defensive end Julian Okwara, and Vanderbilt tight end Jared Pinkney.

Six Super Bowl wins, five White House visits for the Patriots – ProFootballTalk

Mike Reiss of ESPN.com points out that June has come and gone with no apparent plan for the Patriots to stop by 1600 Pennsylvania for a photo op, and maybe a hamberder or two.

Report: Washington State’s Jalen Thompson enters supplemental draft – ProFootballTalk

Another player has entered the 2019 NFL supplemental draft, and he’s a talented safety who has a good chance of being selected. Jalen Thompson just learned yesterday that he has lost his NCAA eligibility and will be in the supplemental draft, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

PFT 2019 storyline No. 25: How long will Cam Newton stick with his new throwing motion? – ProFootballTalk

The Panthers’ promising 2018 season imploded, with the most noticeable sign being a Thursday night thrashing in Pittsburgh (which sparked a campaign-killing string of losses) and the more subtle evidence coming from the chronic inability of quarterback Cam Newton to throw the ball down the field...

PFT 2019 story line No. 24: Will the Cowboys finally take the training wheels off their offense? – ProFootballTalk

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has survived in Dallas for more than eight years despite an offense that relies far less on creativity and innovation than it does on physicality and skill of its players.

Building The Summer Big Board 2.0 - June Winners | The Draft Network

The last time I provided an update on the construction of my 2020 NFL Draft summer big board, I had only watched a handful of teams.