Broncos Quietly Reload Defensive Line through Free Agency


Amidst all the Kyle Orton-Miami Dolphins trade speculation, new Broncos head coach John Fox has quietly reloaded the team at a few positions throughout the NFL’s lockout-shortened free agency. If you’re not the Philadelphia Eagles or New England Patriots, keeping track of every move can be tough. As of early August, here is a summary of the Broncos’ free agent signings so far, listed by position:

Name                                     Position                       Age

Derrick Harvey                        DE                             24
Ryan McBean                          DE                             27
Marcus Thomas                     DE                             25
Daniel Fells                              TE                              27
Dante Rosario                         TE                              26
Wesley Woodyard                  ILB                            25
Matt Prater                               K                               26
David Anderson                      WR                            28
Willis McGahee                       RB                             29

While Fox, John Elway, and Brian Xanders may well continue to sculpt the Broncos’ roster in free agency throughout the preseason (which, by the way, kicks off next Thursday in Cowboys Stadium), a few patterns emerge from the above summary.

For one, we can applaud the Broncos’ personnel team for leaving the 30-somethings at the door. After the Broncos had been linked to Tiki Barber as possible suitors–not to mention recent free agent experiments like Ty Law and Jarvis Green--it is refreshing to see all of these guys come to Dove Valley still in their twenties.

We can also question John Fox’s sincerity when he named running back the team’s top priority in free agency following last April’s draft in which the Broncos passed up on defensive tackle Marcel Dareus. Yes, the Broncos went out and signed Ravens releasee Willis McGahee to motivate complement incumbent starter Knowshon Moreno in the backfield in 2011. Rebuilding the defensive line, however, has been far and away the main focus. As it should be.

The Harvey pickup and re-signings of McBean and Thomas are doubly comforting when you factor in the Broncos’ moves outside of free agency this offseason. Denver has dealt for defensive linemen Brodrick Bunkley (27 years old) and Jeremy Jarmon (just 23). Bunkley joins Harvey as a former first-round pick who could resurrect his career as a Bronco this season.

These are a lot of names being thrown around; however, it was just last August when Brandon Lloyd was merely a gloss-over name in Broncos opinion pieces.  Then he went off in 2010. With Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil wreaking havoc off the edge, this defense may only be a Derrick Harvey or a Brodrick Bunkley away from scaring offensive coordinators. As former 8th and 14th overall picks, both still in their twenties, the potential is real.

Next Thursday, Bronco fans will get their first look at a few offseason acquisitions who could soon be making big plays for this team and big names for themselves.