The Denver Broncos are in the middle of rebuilding their defense to provide an “Orange Crush” mentality that the team has been known for in the early days. The offense has all their pieces, but now the Broncos must look at defense if they want any chances of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the 2014 NFL season. Linebacker is one of the key needs in this rebuild and an undrafted free agent might be able to help out the Broncos. Enter Colorado State University linebacker Shaquil Barrett.
If you are looking for a player who can bring back the Orange Crush mentality, Barrett is your guy. He has a knack for seeking out the football, as he is always on the move to find it. What makes him even more dangerous in those regards is his speed to pursue the football. No matter where it is, you can bet that Barrett can find it. And not only can he find it, but he can take it away as he has shown to enjoy stripping the football from whomever is holding it at the time.
Barrett is also a versatile-type player. During his years with the Rams he not only played linebacker, but defensive end as well. This could make him a very dangerous hybrid player because you never know where the Broncos could put him on defense. There is no doubt that quarterbacks will be looking for him when they prepare to snap the football.
With all players though, Barrett does have his weaknesses. He does not have ideal quickness on the first step, which would allow him to get around the lineman and get to the ball carrier. Also, if he engages a lineman, he has shown to have a difficult time getting out of the block quick enough to make a play. These are weaknesses that can be improved on in training camp and practice.
As far as starting as an UDFA, I can see him making the team as a special teams contributor early on. However, I do not see him as a starting linebacker in the early going. Of course, the team still has to go through the summer workouts before he can prove them wrong. Despite his disadvantages, I have him as one of my five favorite UDFA’s to make the final roster.
This is one player that Broncos’ fans should keep a close eye on. He may be messy at times, but he has the abilities to make a play that can change the whole aspect of the game. If he can continue to improve on those game-changing plays, as well as improve his weaknesses, there is no doubt in my mind that Barrett will be a star linebacker in the league for years to come.