At the beginning of the 2012 season, there were a lot of questions and concerns about the linebackers of the Denver Broncos. Those concerns were warranted, especially at the middle linebacker spot. After a slow start, including an ugly loss to the New England Patriots, the linebackers for the Broncos were a bright spot.
However, it is a position that needs to be upgraded heading into 2013.
The strength of the position is obviously, Von Miller. Miller is one of the best defensive players in the NFL, and continues to get better. He is one of those players that opposing teams have to account for on every play, and those types of defensive players can be counted on one hand. Miller is going to be disrupting opposing offenses for years to come, and his desire to get better makes him a special player.
The surprise of the group was Wesley Woodyard; he had been a solid linebacker and a great special team’s player, but he turned into a very good player in 2012. Woodyard has solidified the outside linebacker spot opposite of Miller and there are some who believe he should have been named to the Pro Bowl. All Woodyard needed was a shot and defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio gave it to him and it paid off in a big way.
The spot that needs to be addressed is once again in the middle. Keith Brooking had a nice season, but he will be 38 before next season. Joe Mays will return from injury, but he was benched before the injury and it is unlikely that he would return to the starting lineup. The wildcard is DJ Williams; he does not want to play middle linebacker but he might be the best option for the Broncos. It is also the only way he is going to get on the field as a starter for the Broncos. If Williams agreed to move back to middle linebacker, then the team would feature one of the best and fastest groups in the league.
The team does have some young talent that they like, especially Danny Trevathan. The rookie played a fair amount in critical situations and his role is likely to increase in 2013. Trevathan can play middle linebacker but he is a tad undersized; however, the Broncos love him and his work ethic. The natural reaction of fans is to say, “We need to go get a free agent” but sometimes the answer is in your own backyard.
Having said that, the Broncos will probably try to sign a free agent middle linebacker to come in and compete. They will also look to add additional young talent through the draft. The position of linebacker is one to keep an eye on when free agency open and March, as well as the draft in April.
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