Analyzing the Broncos Team. Veterans. Chapter 2: Defense

I consider veteran a player that has at least 2 years of starting or important role duties, plus players with at least 5 years of experience in the League. Players with 2 or less years of experience, even if starters on our team won’t be part of this analysis.

Here I will list my opinion and team value on each player on Broncos roster that fit my description of Veteran.


Kevin Vickerson – Defensive Tackle: Free Agent 2010

He had a decent year in 2010 while the rest of the defense had an awful one (a part Champ, obviously). This year he started with hype but somehow he was not a first teamer and the he went down with an injury. He has another year of contract and we will see him in spring. He could be a rotational guy or be cut too.

Ty Warren – Defensive Tackle: Free Agent 2011

Check back next spring. He could be a nice adding to the defensive four or he could be cut too.

Robert Ayers – Defensive End: 1st round pick

mmmm..I don’t know what to say…I like Mayock and I would like to believe him when he said (3 years ago) that he could turn out to be the best defensive end in the 2009 draft. But it’s hard to overlook his sack total stat, which for defensive end in the 4-3 system is a quite important stat category.  He looked good against the run, but also I saw him on the bench during some important defense turnover of the season. He made a huge play against Cincinnati, but still is enough? He tried to convert himself in a 3-4 OLB for 2 years and the second years it was an upgrade of the first. This is his first year in the Pros at true DE and from a first rounder you expect a bigger impact, really. Even thought he was spectacular in the wild card game against the steelers he needs to strongly improve in the pass rushing aspect of his game and I really hope he could bunch back and be a force for us, it will be a huge finding. He could be challenged this spring if Denver Draft a intended pass rushing DE either in the first or in the second round of the Draft. I don’t see Denver running in FA for a top pass rushing DE. He’s still thought to be a starter once training camp will begin, but probably he will have to show up big to silence the doubters.

Derrick Harvey – Defensive End: Fee Agent 2011

I don’t know if he even played 30 snaps total this year. I don’t know why but it doesn’t look good when you add a veteran defensive end that is looking for a second chance and then it turn out to be deactivated for games for the most of the year. He will be a FA this march and I don’t think he’ll be back if not for being a body in training camp.

Wesley Woodyard – WOLB – Nickel Linebacker: CFA 2008

I think he reached his potential. And it’s between keeping him (free agent at the end of 2011 season) or DJ Williams. I think that no team in the League would spend quite big money for starter and back up at the same position. If a team does it, it’s a sign that the Organization is not headed to a Championship level. He’s having an incredible amount of tackles this year, even more for the fact that he is more of a role player in our team. He filled in nicely for DJ Williams when asked but he does not have the same athleticism of DJ. He more consistent thought. It will be down to one of them being not on this team by spring. If Denver re-sign Woodyard, it only means that Williams is on his way out of town

Marcus Thomas – Defensive Tackle: 4th round pick

He did improve this year under a more friendly scheme and because of injuries to Warren and Vickerson he had a lots of snaps. Still he ‘ll be a free agent in March 2012 and I can see him being a top reserve and occasional starter more than a strong starter that could demand a big payday. Depending on the offers he will have and the role on the team he’ll seek, he could be back in Denver or be lost in FA. Considering he has been a 4th round pick that worked under a different defensive coordinator each year, Denver didn’t wasted a pick on him, but I can’t see the first round talent that he was labeled, if not for character concerns. He has to really improve in the pass rush and probably consistency overall, but given the low expectation on the interior of the D-Line at the beginning of the year, I would say he played better than in his previous year. Would this be enough to overpaying him? No, in my opinion, but time will tell.

Brodrick Bunkley – Defensive Tackle: Trade (Philadelfia) 2011

Great finding. Period. He could also be in discussion for a Pro-Bowl spot if he was given more snaps. The ones he took, he was really impressive, being the anchor of our D-Line against the run. He will be free-agent at the end of the year, and it will be a terrible gambling to not show him big bucks to keep him in Colorado. Again the knock on keeping him will be his injury report, he had quite a lot with the Eagles. He is having somewhat of a career year, he should be kept anyhow. Starting DT for any 4-3 team, the best we have and that we had since some time.

Elvis Dumervil – Defensive End: 4th round pick (2006), 2 Pro Bowls

Still weak at times in running defense, anyhow he greatly improved from two years ago. And still he is one of these rare Premier pass rushers. He did the Pro Bowl and nothing more than solid pillars of the team. He also looked like a big leader of the team. He is one of these few players a great team is built around. He probably is the best or the second best player in the team.

Jason Hunter – Defensive End: Free Agent 2010

He recorded just a sack this year. I actually don’t know how many snaps he played, but probably enough to let Denver coaches have a complete report on his abilities. He will be FA in March, but I don’t think that he will be a priority. Could be upgraded but also he played well enough to be retained if he will demand a cheap salary. Fifty / Fifty about him sticking around next year, but I guess Denver will try hard to upgrade the talent at the DE position through the Draft and during campo he could be the odd man out or, at best, the 4th DE on the roster. If it won’t be like this, Denver will still have problem at DE in case Ayers or Dumervil will be injured. And is not the way great teams are built.

DJ Williams – WOLB: 1st round pick 2004

He is really athletic. I got it. Still missed 10 tackles. He played for 8 different defensive coordinators on 4 different linebacker positions. Got it too. He did, at times, some of these playes that only great players can do. But he isn’t a great player. So I don’t know what to think. I would like Denver to finally have 3 great linebackers, if that will happen next year, he won’t be a starter. So what to do with him? He is too old to be traded for a good round pick (think 2nd or even 3rd) and he never showed this kind of leadership you need from the most experienced linebacker on the field (Miller has 1 year of experience now, Mays will be a free agent in March and also has been a starter for only one year). I don’t know. He has to play better. With his athleticism he has to make more big plays for Denver, if not, he will be cut, probably not this year, but next one.

Mario Haggan – Linebacker (any position): FA 2008

He really is this kind of player you want on your team. He’s not a starter anymore, but he could fill in at any linebacker position (even as Mike if necessary) and do dirty job that always helps the team. He also plays in the special team. He is great in the locker room. He will be a FA in March, let’s see if Denver wants him back for another couple of years to grooming the youngsters that are and will be added to the team.

Andre Goodman – Cornerback: Free Agent 2009

He’s not as bad as some fan wants him to be, but he could be upgraded. He could because corners better than him on the FA market will demand a lot of money and a rookie won’t have his big experience. He did some great plays this year for Denver (the two interceptions were crucial and probably gave Denver two wins). He has another year of contract, he’s getting 34. I would keep him for another year and let him help to develop Harris, Thompson, Vaughn and another cornerback that Denver will bring in. I would feel good with that.

Champ Bailey – Cornerback: Trade (Washington) 2004, 11 Pro Bowls (6 with Denver), 6 All Pro teams (3 with Denver).

He developed as a great leader and, with Dumervil, he is still the best player on the team. I don’t have nothing more to say apart that I hope he will play for Denver during the next 5 years, so that he will win one or two of these rings he totally deserves. Future Hall of Famers.

Brian Dawkins – Safety: Free Agent  2009

He’s probably the soul of the defense and so also the soul of the team. He deserves a ring.  I hope he will still play next year and most important, that he will play for the Broncos. He has pure football personality. He helps everyday developing young players just with his presence. Denver desperately needs him to stick around in Dove Valley, as a player or a coach.  He will be missed hugely. Future Hall of Famers


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