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Broncos roster review: Defensive lineman Eyioma Uwazurike

Can rookie defensive lineman Eyioma Uwazurike be the Shelby Harris replacement for the Denver Broncos in 2022?

Iowa State v Kansas State Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

A fresh rookie taken in George Paton’s second draft, Uwazurike (quite literally) provides a huge boost to the Denver Broncos’ run defense. Rookie don’t often start, but Eyioma Uwazurike is talented enough to do so right away.

#96 Eyioma Uwazurike

Height: 6’6
Weight: 320 lbs
Position: Defensive End
College: Iowa State
Experience: Rookie

How he fits with the Broncos in 2022

Ideally, Uwazurike replaces Shelby Harris’s role as your starting 5T with the ability to kick inside to be a 1T/shaded nose, but he’s not your full-time nose in the sense of what Purcell is. He’s a base end, built to help the run defense. Typically an end in a Fangio-esque scheme, which we can pretty effectively say is what Denver will be running this season under new DC Ejiro Evero, is required to take on double-teams, stack and shed, and control rushing lanes in the run game, while also providing some pass-rush ability (but doesn’t have to be elite there).

Enter Eyioma Uwazurike. Uwazurike has the versatility to line up pretty much all over, but his length and ability as a run defender will be best suited for playing that 5T/4i role, and he can shine there. Better still, Uwazurike boasts a 95th percentile arm length and wingspan, perfect for swatting down passes at the line of scrimmage. He even has a couple of blocked field goals on his resume at Iowa State as well. As a pass-rusher, he isn’t the most twitched-up athlete out there, but he’s plenty explosive and his frame can challenge even the most seasoned guards. As he grows his pass-rush plan, there’s little reason to doubt he can’t be one of the better 5Ts in the NFL.

With the 5-1 shift upfront, it’s important for gap integrity versus the run. Uwazurike’s length and run defense helping control gaps next to DJ Jones should vastly improve the Broncos’ run defense, given just how poor the ends were last year in run defense.

Final Word

Uwazurike should see a pretty healthy amount of playing time. Quite frankly, there’s no reason for him not to. The Broncos don’t have enough depth up front that will really keep him on the bench, and what he should provide in run defense is something the Broncos desperately need. Factor that in with the schematic shift upfront on defense, and Uwazurike might be an outright starter in every game this season.


Do you think Eyioma Uwazurike will start as a rookie?

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