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Direckshun
07-05-2007, 01:46 AM
No other team's position represents the uncertainty in the AFCW than the Donks' DL.

I've read some of the breakdowns from Donks' fans and fansites which have been helpful in giving me the positive spin on their acquisitions. And I've read the breakdown of the DL woes from rival fans, many of them Chiefs fans, providing the typical doomsday ridicule that comes from the Broncos' anything-they-can-get style in free agency.

Can we level for a moment, though? Can we honestly evaluate what the Donkeys have done and adequately prepare ourselves for the brick wall (or beaded curtain) that we're about to face?

Probably not. But I can try.

DEFENSIVE ENDS

Tim Crowder -- I like this rookie, and I like him because he's a DE that attacks the run. Really, it took Texas three years to get him off the run and attack the QB with regular consistency, and as soon as he picked up on that he was golden. This was a good pick for the Broncos, especially since they seem to be thin on DEs that genuinely care about the run (Ekuban seems to be the only one registering numbers against it). If that Moss fellow pans out at the RDE, Crowder's a lock for LDE and all of a sudden the Broncos could have two solid guys coming off the ends.

Elvis Dumervil -- See him in the game, lining up against your OT? Good. Run right at him. Doesn't matter who the OT is, just hand the football off to your RB and tell him to get between your OT's shoulder blades and run right over Dumervil. Dumervil is a gifted pass rusher, primarily because he's essentially a linebacker playing on the DL, so he's small and fast and hard for OTs to block against. But he is just worthless against the run from what I've seen. He almost had as many sacks (8.5) as he did tackles (14) last year. That's what I'm talking about.

Ebenezer Ekuban -- Ekuban is a poor man's Jared Allen, but easily the best thing to have come out of Shanahan's obsession with the Browns' DL. He's got great size (6'4, 280) but that's not what makes him effective. He's a motor guy, and that allows him to be an "eh" pass rusher while being an above-average run defender for a DE. He had a standout year in 2006, but that was probably his ceiling. I doubt he can churn out another 7-sack, 60-tackle season, but he's a certain 4-sack, 30-tackle guy every year. He'd be a great rotational DE, but he may be the best the Broncos sport this year and he'll probably start once again at RDE.

John Engelberger -- I have a soft spot for blue-collar guys that do okay despite the fact that they're not blessed with elite measurables. Engelberger is a supporting cast dude, a rotational guy, and while guys like him aren't going to shut down your offense, guys like him can kinda help the guys who actually can. Very weak in rushing the passer, though. He's basically just kind of there, and should only belong on the Broncos' team if they have no other available options.

Carlos Hall -- That's right, Chiefs fans! Carlos Hall continues to find his place in the NFL after his budding career went awry in KC. He hasn't really done that much since KC and he seems to be trying to resurrect himself in Denver now. To me, this seems to feed the stereotype of the Broncos playing the role of a large-mouth bass in the offseason: just swallow everything and hope something's got some nutrients in it.

Kenard Lang -- Another Brown-turned-Bronco blue collar guy. He was a good player in his day and he's going to fare decently this year, but he's on the way down, fast. He's been around for a dozen years and his most valuable asset is veteran leadership to a young and reckless Jarvis Moss. He might still sniff the QB a few times this season, but if the Broncos have to give him serious playing time, then they simply haven't made the strides they were trying to make this offseason. Solid backup at this point.

Jarvis Moss -- Ahhh, yes. The grand mystery of this position. One of the first things the new DC, Bates, wanted was to acquire Moss in the Draft -- so much he had the team unnecessarily trade up a handful of spots to get him, costing them an entire draft pick that they didn't have to give away. Bates built a great D in Miami around a tall, slender DE named Jason Taylor who Jarvis Moss looks a lot like athletically. He's money in the bank for athleticism, off the field issues be damned. But he's going to need more sculpting than Taylor did. I think Bates can be the guy to do it. Give him a season to learn, he should be damn good in a couple years.

Kenny Peterson -- This guy's a 'tweener who's never proven that he can really contribute enough to merit a starting position, and on even the more mediocre DLs it's not clear that he should even be on the squad. His numbers for the Packers were meager, and he saw virtually no playing time with the Broncos last year at all. There's no reason for Peterson to be on the team's game day roster.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

Sam Adams -- A Bates defense, indeed. He's a proven talented DC, but apparently he has zero flexibility. The two most notable make-this-defense-look-like-the-Dolphins-defense moves he's made was to draft a guy that looked a lot like Jason Taylor (Moss) and find a guy in the middle that would look a lot like the massive Dan Wilkinson. Hell, he even tried to acquire the massive Dan Wilkinson. When that fell through, they looked at the massive Kris Jenkins. When that fell through, the massive Sam Adams came along. Adams is a dozen-year vet coming off one of the worst years of his career, and will probably just continue declining as he continues aging. Adams should not make this team, but he will because Bates has come this far for a massive DT, and he's not going to turn his back on one now that he's finally got one.

Antwon Burton -- This big guy (6'2, 315) was picked up by the Broncos some time in '04 as a project guy. Well, it's been three years and there's absolutely no buzz around him. He's camp fodder and I bet he's nowhere near Denver come September.

Steven Harris -- More camp fodder. He was picked up by the Broncos as an UDFA this year after serving a good year or two as DT for the Gators next to Marcus Thomas and Jarvis Moss. He still played pretty good after Thomas was gone but I think he's essentially a low-grade Ryan Sims, benefitting from a hypertalented DL. On his own, he'll be below average in the NFL if he even makes a squad. He won't make the Broncos', not even their practice squad.

Jimmy Kennedy -- Sam Adams? Weird pickup, but understandable. Sacrificing an additional pick for Moss? Dumb, but he might be worth it. Carlos Hall? Why the hell not. All of these considered, the true head-scratcher this offseason for the DL was the trade of a 6th round pick for disgruntled underachiever Jimmy Kennedy, which assures that he's on this team come September. He might not even be good enough to make the team, considering that he's weak against the run and despite it being his "specialty," weaker against the pass. It's entirely possible that the inept Rams defensive coaches couldn't find a way to utilize this former first-rounder, and the Broncos will somehow tap that potential. But the Broncos seem to think that about a lot of people, and it just hasn't worked out. Kennedy will make the team, but I'm almost sure that he won't break from tradition.

Alvin McKinley -- The latest Brown-turned-Bronco was one of the hottest DTs on the market this year, along with Ian Scott. He's smaller than Bates prefers his men in the middle to be, but talent-wise he's the best the Broncos have this year. He's a versatile guy who can get to the QB a few times a year and always register good numbers against the run. He's especially effective when another DT can draw a double-team so he's the ideal guy you want in when your other DT is sucking up lots of attention. Problem is, I'm just not sure the Broncos have that guy, but neither did the Browns and McKinley played just fine. Sure starter.

Marcus Thomas -- I have absolutely no faith that Thomas can keep his nose clean. He'll probably make this team because the Broncos did actually expend a fourth round pick on him, so they'll surround him with veteran talent and pray they keep him under wraps. This is a guy with massive off-the-field problems and it'll take a major, major attitude adjustment to get that straight. On the field, Thomas was a monster at Florida. It usually takes a two or three seasons to even know what you've got in a promising rookie DT, though, and the Broncos are in win-now mode. He's a nasty DT with skills to pay the bills, but expect minimum contributions from him this year as the Broncos simply aren't looking long-term in '07.

Demitrin Veal -- Veal is an instance where the Broncos have found untapped potential, however earnest it may be. Word is in Denver that Veal's days are numbered because of Bates obvious preference for gigantosaurs that literally take up the middle, pushing out Veal, who weighs in under 290. I think he's a good guy to have on your team if you can find a roster spot for him. Even though he's not that physically gifted, he's a high motor guy who will chase a play until he hears the refs' whistle. He would be a good pickup for any team looking for someone to inject some energy into their DL unit. That's exactly what I'd prescribe for the Broncos, but Bates is the DC, not I.

Gerard Warren -- Yet another Brown-turned-Bronco, Warren turned in a statistically pleasing year in 2006 to counter his statistically disappointing 2005 campaign, but the effect on the field hasn't really changed. Warren, like all of the Browns-turned-Broncos, is a blue collar guy that's best reserved for a rotation or a backup position than as a sure-fire starter taking 30 snaps a game. Despite being a large 6'4", 325 lbs, he is beaten by most OGs and only against the weaker OLs does he demand a double-team. It's entirely possible that he might contribute more if the talent across the DL improves, but I think he's a solid backup, and a below average starter who'll probably have to do just that.

SUMMARY

Did the crazy offseason pay-off? Well, the draft paid off more than anything. Crowder and Moss should do well in the NFL together, and Ekuban should be great as a third DE. I like what they've done there, because they simply can't afford to line up Dumervil on a regular basis. But the DE position is going to take some time to develop. The whole concept Bates is trying to establish revolves around Moss, and Moss is going to need a year to develop. It's entirely possible Ekuban has to start this year at RDE, in which case any progress the DE position has made from last year to this year is minimal. Get back to me in 2008.

The DT FA acquisitions are clearly what this team wants. They want freakin' size, and outside of Alvin McKinley they had to pretty much settle for it. Sam Adams is the body type they want and he'll make the team, but he's slipping hard and fast. The Jimmy Kennedy trade was just a reach. Marcus Thomas could be the best thing to happen for this unit if he can just hold it together.

My projection:
RDE -- Ebenezer Ekuban
DT -- Jimmy Kennedy
DT -- Alvin McKinley
LDE -- Tim Crowder

Reserve DTs -- Sam Adams, Marcus Thomas
Reserve DEs -- Jarvis Moss, Elvis Dumervil (in certain situations)

Is it a step up or a step down from last year? Marginal step up at DE, with what I have to say is a momentary step down at DT. I like how the outside is shaping up but they don't really have a solid starting DT outside of McKinley, and the backups are both too old and too young. Kennedy was a waste of a pick.

luv
07-05-2007, 01:48 AM
Are you sure you're in the right field? You should write.

Direckshun
07-05-2007, 01:55 AM
Are you sure you're in the right field? You should write.
Oh, we'll see once the Donk fans arrive. ;)

SoCalBronco
07-05-2007, 02:03 AM
That's a very good piece and mostly accurate, although you are way off on Antwon Burton. He has not been around since 2004, last year he was a rookie whom we signed as an UDFA from Temple after the 06 draft.

I would take issue with your characterization of Warren's effort in 06 vs. 05, I think you have it backwards. He performed better in 05, he took a step back in 06, although to be fair, he was bothered by a toe injury that began in camp and was later aggravated against Cleveland (I think).

As to the rookie haul at DL, as of the present there has been very little if anything to come out of Dove Valley as to Jarvis Moss, other than he was a bit out of shape at the initial OTAs. Jim Bates, has, however remarked very favorably on Tim Crowder recently and a month or so ago, he said that Marcus Thomas is going to be a starter in the league for a long time.

I think you are also shortchanging Lang a bit. He was outstanding last year. Is he on the downslide? Sure, but it is hard to pencil him in as a backup only after his performance last year. He was a very pleasant surprise in 06.

Excellent descrptions for Ekuban and Engelberger. Engelberger is a big effort guy but is basically worthless.

I agree with you on Dumervil, his size prevents him from being effective vs. the run, although he possesses natural leverage. In the base defense, according to reports he is running third string so far, but is running first team on the nickel D.

Overall an excellent summation though.

Direckshun
07-05-2007, 02:15 AM
In the name of fair-and-balancedness, I appreciate it.

I'll defer to you on Antwon Burton, since I just don't consider him important enough to go back and forth on. But Warren's tackle stats took a 33% jump from 2005 to 2006. Good for him to officially get in on more business than before, but the difference wasn't really that notable either way. And yes, give him credit for playing through major foot problems to achieve those numbers. Lord knows I just about cry when I cramp in the pool.

Bates loves the guys that he drafts, I'll give him credit for that. If he says Marcus will start for a long time, I'll guarantee you it'll happen and it'll happen under Bates. But it's not going to happen now. This season is clearly too valuable to the Broncos and they're going to slowly work Thomas in. Same with Moss, although I've read Bates' words on Crowder and yeah, I think you've got an insta-starter there.

I can't settle in with Lang making this team, though. All signs point to Bates slowly washing the DL clean of former Browns. I can't see more than four DEs making this team (or five, if you want to count McKinley as a hybrid, which I wouldn't). Obviously Crowder and Moss are in the mix, and Ekuban's simply got more left in his tank than Lang does. Those are the big three that will remain, and if there is a fourth thrown in the mix, I bet it'll be Dumervil in a Kendrell Bell-type role where he steps in on selective obvious passing plays. I think Lang's gone.

ClevelandBronco
07-05-2007, 03:04 AM
It's a bloody mess, the same as it's been for a while now. I won't have an opinion until about game 8.

Mile High Mania
07-05-2007, 05:35 AM
I applaud the activity and hopefully there is strength in numbers. On there own, several of these guys don't illicit much excitement, but as part of a rotation of players, who knows.

Another year, another mystery at Dline... we'll see what happens. The good thing is that the offense and the secondary are not much of a concern for me.

htismaqe
07-05-2007, 06:05 AM
Of the draft picks, I think Crowder has the most chance to play right away. He's more NFL-ready.

Thomas scares me, and he should scare Bronco fans too. Will he live up to his potential? Or will he end up like Tank Johnson?

Jarvis Moss is the big question mark. They traded up to get him, even though they didn't need to, and really made him the centerpiece of their draft. Moss is 6'6" and 250 lbs. Opposing offensive tackles are gonna have a field day against him, getting underneath his pads and pushing him around the field. Sure, there's Jason Taylor, but he's a rare breed. Can Bates get lightning to strike twice?

OctoberFart
07-05-2007, 12:43 PM
Good analysis I would like to see you do an Raider and Chief analysis too.

Kaylore
07-05-2007, 06:06 PM
That's a very good piece. I think you're off on some things on more right on others than you realize.

I like that you gave Ekuban some love. He really is very good (for what he is). Lang was much better last year than you suggest, though. Also of all the defensive line picks, Marcus Thomas is the one I'm worried about the least. You do realize that he took urine tests every week and gave the results to all the GM's in the league, right? He's actually paid for his problems so I think that will be better than a guy who's been smoking weed in college for four years and never gets caught and comes in with a problem.

I think you overrated McKinley. I'm not sold he's going to be that great. Also, Warren didn't play well in '06 but did play well in '05. I know you like Engleberger, but he's not as good as you suggest. The other thing you missed is Adams. Adams played with scar tissue in his knee last year and should have had it scoped. He has since done so and word is he impressed at camps. Obviously he's not going to dominate anybody, but I think he'll be somewhere between the '06 Adams and the '05 one.

Anyway, thanks for posting this. It's a shame posters like you don't come to our board anymore. Rausch and Saulbadguy don't post either. All we have are the numnut trolls like Lost in the Mail, KMartin and Crazywhore.

luv
07-05-2007, 06:13 PM
Anyway, thanks for posting this. It's a shame posters like you don't come to our board anymore. Rausch and Saulbadguy don't post either. All we have are the numnut trolls like Lost in the Mail, KMartin and Crazywhore.
Rausch has been missing over here as well. If you see him, would you please send him home?

Kaylore
07-05-2007, 06:14 PM
Rausch has been missing over here as well. If you see him, would you please send him home?
10-4, good buddy.

KC Tattoo
07-05-2007, 09:38 PM
I bet the Donkeys try to get "Tank" Johnson when his suspention is up.
They will be the dirty team to get him. That's the Shanarat way

Mile High Mania
07-05-2007, 09:53 PM
I bet the Donkeys try to get "Tank" Johnson when his suspention is up.
They will be the dirty team to get him. That's the Shanarat way

Rumors around Dallas are that the Cowboys might be interested...

KC Tattoo
07-05-2007, 10:01 PM
Rumors around Dallas are that the Cowboys might be interested...

They can have him too... "Tank" Johnson can stay the hell out of the AFCWEST.

Direckshun
07-05-2007, 10:20 PM
Thanks for the comments, Kaylore.

I like Ekuban, but as a reserve. If he's your starter at RDE while you have Crowder probably lining up at LDE, you're going to have a solid attack from those guys but I wouldn't be shaking in my boots if I were a QB. It's obvious this entire DL scheme centers around Moss being the second-coming of Jason Taylor, but honestly what you need him to do is develop, develop, develop, and the sooner he can start and attack the QB, the better off you'll be. But I don't know if he'll be there by opening day and you'll be entering the season with a good pair of DEs, but not dominant.

My issue with Marcus Thomas isn't necessarily drugs. It's stupidity. The guy has exercised such massive doses of it despite the fact that he was a no-brainer NFL prospect playing on a defense that was practically a pro defense would scare me if I were a Bronco fan. Has he learned his lesson? Maybe, but we're talking a pattern of behavior here stemming from incredibly poor decision making -- and that's how you get a guy to drop to the 4th.

I continue hearing from Broncos fans that Warren played poorly in '06 but not in '05. Be that as it may, maybe it's just not my team so I'm not as intimately connected as you folks are, but his stats were decidedly better in '06, but for the life of me I really didn't see much of a difference either way -- which doesn't matter because unless the Broncos are considering keeping 5 DTs on board, he's the odd man out.

And yes, Alvin McKinley's the best DT on your team.

Mile High Mania
07-05-2007, 10:37 PM
We're all experts now, but there's a reason none of us are coaching... we'll soon know if this has been a good or bad off-season strategy for the Broncos' defensive line.

Direckshun
07-05-2007, 10:49 PM
We're all experts now, but there's a reason none of us are coaching... we'll soon know if this has been a good or bad off-season strategy for the Broncos' defensive line.
Thanks for that, sensei...