In the hours since Elvis Dumervil left the Denver Broncos, there have been hundreds of theories about how the team should proceed. Most believe that signing a free agent like Dwight Freeney is the answer, and I believe that will happen and it is a good move. There’s been a lot of talk, including yours truly, about this being the time for Robert Ayers to step up. Here’s the real question, though; why are we all missing the obvious answer?
Derek Wolfe had a terrific rookie season for the Broncos and no one is talking about him. Wolfe started all 16 games, playing both defensive end and defensive tackle. Yet when people start debating the defensive line of the Broncos, Wolfe’s name rarely comes up or if it does it is an afterthought.
That’s some afterthought, a player who registered 40 tackles and six sacks as a rookie. In addition, Wolfe often took up two blockers on passing downs, allowing players like Dumervil and Von Miller to face only one blocker. Those plays do not show up on a stat sheet, but they do show up on film, and the coaches do notice.
Wolfe was good in his rookie season despite not being allowed to participate in the offseason program because he was finishing school. This year he gets the full benefit of the Broncos offseason program, the mini-camps, the meetings and the conditioning. When you combine the experience he got in his rookie season with the opportunity to fully immerse himself in the offseason program, Wolfe should be primed for a huge second season.
On top of all of that, Wolfe is a worker and he loves football. During the bye week last season while most of his teammates were traveling and enjoying the time off, Wolfe stayed home because he wanted to rest his legs. He is driven to be the best football player he can be and it is that drive combined with his talent that will make him a great player.
In 2013, Wolfe will once again be counted on to play all over the defensive line. He will play the end position on run downs and move inside on passing downs. It should not surprise anyone if Wolfe ends the season with 10+ sacks and 60+ tackles; he has the talent to be that good.
The defensive line seems to be causing fans of the Broncos a great deal of anxiety, but when they talk about solutions, very few bring up Wolfe. Maybe it is because he is not flashy; he just shows up and makes plays.
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