Posted Fri Mar 23rd by Jon Heath
It seems like we have this conversation every off-season.
“On Denver’s roster, defensive tackle seems to be a big area of need, and the Broncos seemingly have done nothing about it,” commentators frequently write, rightfully so. This off-season, the Broncos have already lost one defensive tackle (Brodrick Bunkley), and may be on the verge of losing another in Marcus Thomas.
Meanwhile, the team is yet to sign a defensive tackle in free agency. While the team may still bring in one or more defensive tackles during free agency, fans need to also remember that the draft is approaching and Denver has a plan.
This year’s draft is deep at the defensive tackle position and as many as five DT’s are expected to go in the first round of selections alone (5-of-32 picks). Relying on a rookie will not solve Denver’s problems in the interior of the line, but several prospects in the draft have the potential to become a cornerstone on Denver’s defensive line.
Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox (6-4, 298), Penn State’s Devon Still (6-5, 303) and Connecticut’s Kendall Reyes (6-4, 299) are all options for Denver. And there are still options in free agency.
“No big-name free agents worth bringing in,” I’m sure many of you might add. Before the team signed Bunkley last off-season however, many of you were saying the same thing. He ended up having a productive season.
On the roster, the team has Ryan McBean, Mitch Unrein, Kevin Vickerson, Ty Warren, Sealver Siliga and Jeremy Jarmon returning this season. Warren is aging (turning 32) and while he potentially may have some gas left in the tank, we shouldn’t expect too much out of him. McBean and Unrein were rotational players last season and Vickerson is a player who I think has a lot of potential and East keeps hammering me for bragging about him.
In my opinion, Vickerson deserves to be bragged about. Signed by the Broncos early in the 2010 season, Vickerson came in and made a splash on Denver’s defense. Starting in twelve games, Vickerson was a play-maker recording 42 tackles, 2.0 sacks, defending three passes, intercepting a pass and forcing a fumble.
After his impressive 2010 season, Vickerson signed a four-year deal with the team. Five games into the 2011 season however, Vickerson suffered an injury and was placed on the injured reserve list.
An athletic defensive lineman, Vickerson, 6-5, 290, is entering his seventh season in the NFL and I believe he could have a breakout season. Though others may not think he is much to brag about, I think Vickerson — paired up with an off-season acquisition or a drafted rookie — could help anchor the center of Denver’s defensive line this season.
If the team is able to re-sign Thomas and Vickerson reaches his full potential this season, the defensive tackle position would not be in dire situation many fans make it out to be. With that said, it remains a position of need and the team will address it.
Before casting judgment on the Broncos’ roster, I would suggest waiting until training camp has drawn closer. There are a lot of signings still to come in free agency and the draft is quickly approaching. Denver will add more defensive tackles.