Jul 24, 2014; Dove Valley, CO, USA; Denver Broncos defensive end Kenny Anunike (68) and defensive tackle Marvin Austin (76) block on each other during training camp activities at the Broncos training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
The Broncos haven’t always followed the fans’ blueprint when it comes to adding players to the team, but in the case of Marvin Austin, it was better late than never.
In the same draft class that produced Defensive Rookie of the Year Von Miller, the Broncos were staring a full rebuild square in the face, especially on the defensive side of the football. The fans paying closest attention to the draft at the time were all for the drafting of former North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin, who was suspended in what turned out to be his final season with the team.
Austin was drafted in the second round by the New York Giants, and was signed as something of a free agent footnote by the Broncos this offseason, much to the delight of all the draft nerds (like myself) who thought adding Austin would be a fine low-risk, high reward move, even three years ago.
As it has been written, talent has never been a problem for this guy. Whether he’s suspended or injured, making an impact on the field — consistently — has been.
Back on June 10th, Andrew Mason at DenverBroncos.com wrote that Austin could be a player that ‘shuffles the deck’ at the defensive tackle spot, and he’s come into training camp with a bang. Back in June, Mason also noted Austin’s quickness off the snap, and even without pads, that’s a significant trait for a defensive lineman to have.
Combine that with his violent hand usage and overall strength, this is a player who has the look of more than just a rotational gap filler. This guy might be showing flashes of the first round pick he should have been once upon a time. When the Broncos put the pads on on Saturday, it was all systems go for a guy trying to revive his football career.
It’s hard to read that and not get excited, but there’s more. If you’re not reading Mason’s five takeaways from each day of camp, you’re doing Broncos following wrong, but here’s specifically what he noted about Austin’s performance.
"“Austin is the X-factor of the defensive tackle corps, a high-ceiling, low-risk offseason pickup. If he’s healthy and consistent, he could make the group one of the deepest in the league. He could also provide insurance while Vickerson eases his way back into full-speed work following his hip injury of last November.Austin was dominant in line drills, but most important was how he carried that into the 11-on-11 periods.What stands out about Austin is his quickness off the snap. At one point, he was too quick, as he jumped offside after biting on a hard count from Brock Osweiler. But he repeatedly anticipated the play and was often in the backfield before the offensive line was set.”"
The Broncos’ Quick Hits report from David DeChant was even more glowing in regards to the performance being put on by Austin.
"“Marvin Austin had one of the most dominant performances of any player in training camp thus far, and did so while playing on multiple units. He blew up at least four or five run plays in the team period and beat many different linemen in pass rush drills. Perhaps he was too amped up at times, taking Ronnie Hillman down in the backfield with a full tackle at one point and drawing reproach from Fox. But it couldn’t take away from the former Tar Heel’s excellent day.”"
Denver is going to try and ease Kevin Vickerson back into the rotation as he recovers from a hip injury suffered last season. They have Terrance Knighton and Sylvester Williams firmly entrenched in the starting lineup as of right now, but there are plenty of snaps to go around. The Broncos will be able to keep their defensive line almost unfairly fresh throughout the course of the season if guys like Marvin Austin can provide this kind of depth.
I can’t wait to see him in person so I can give you a first hand account of what he’s looking like, but for now, the glowing reviews from guys who are out at camp are enough for me. Marvin Austin might just be who we thought he was.