2013 Free Agents of interest – Part 7 – Justin Durant , OLB/ILB


Justin Durant – OLB: 6’ 1’’, 240 lbs., 27 y/o, 6th season, selected in the 2nd round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars (Jack Del Rio was Head Coach at the moment).

Justin Durant plays bigger that his actual size. He has been an important addition to the Lions line backing group and one of the reasons the Lions made the playoff last year. He has coverage skills and actually is being used by the Lions for covering TEs. He’s a quite reliable player and also played MLB for the Jaguars for Del Rio.

His career stats as week 12 of 2012: 420 tackles (349 solo), 3, 5 sacks, 14 pass deflections, 2 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles. He started 64 games out of 74 he played in his NFL career.

Why the broncos would be interested:

  • He’s a versatile linebacker that could provide depth basically at the three linebackers’ positions.
  • He was an original draft pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars, and since his rookie year he started 42 games over 50 games he played for Del Rio, including 8 out 13 games in his rookie year.
  • He could bring experience.
  • He can cover TEs. Up to now it has been one of the few problems the Denver defense faced during the season.

Why the Broncos could not pursue him:

  • If Del Rio will leave the Broncos at the end of the season, I don’t see the Broncos being overly interested.
  • Detroit could actually play hard for resign him. He’s no All-Pro, but good teams usually try to maintain the status quo in the locker room when they have the right guys in. And Detroit has them, Durant is one of them. They just played poorly at the end of some matches this year, plus the secondary has been injured up to now.
  • He left Jacksonville on free- agency. So it could also be that between Del Rio and Durant there wasn’t as much understanding.
  • Denver Line backing corps is young but good. There is enough depth at the OLB position (DJ Williams has no guarantee that will win back in WLB in training camp; Woodyard is playing at pro-bowl level each and every week). The starting positions at OLB are not in question and he should compete for the MLB one. Would the Broncos pay him good money while they’re not sure he’ll be a starter? Will he accept the challenge?

Resume:

Justin Durant is an experienced and versatile linebacker that could provide great depth at SOLB and MLB. He has battled minor injuries during his Pro career but still could provide leadership and toughness to this defense. I can see Denver looking for him if Del Rio will remain at Denver as Defensive Coordinator, but also I can’t see Denver destroying the harmony of the actual locker room, Durant will have to accept the challenge of competing for the MLB spot without any insurance (DJ Williams will be in the mix too?) of winning it.

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