Jun 10, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos defensive tackle Sylvester Williams (92) warms up during mini camp at the Broncos practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
On paper, we all knew the Denver Broncos’ defensive line depth was pretty good. At training camp so far, that unit is proving to be even better than anyone could have expected.
The Broncos already know what they are getting from a few guys. Namely, DeMarcus Ware and Terrance Knighton lead a group of players that is an excellent mix of size, speed, athleticism, pass rush ability, run stuffing ability, and versatility. The Broncos could use so many different personnel groupings up front, and that’s huge since we saw a year ago what happens when you suffer a bunch of different injuries.
With 2013 opening day starter Kevin Vickerson still working his way back from a hip injury, it’s opened the door for 2013 first round pick Sylvester Williams who is absolutely killing it at camp after showing the Broncos a number of flashes last season why he was their top draft choice.
Williams’ quickness off the snap was evident in the Broncos’ win over Houston last season, when he repeatedly abused Houston’s interior offensive linemen. Williams is able to use his quickness to his advantage, but he’s also strong as an ox. He’s one of the Broncos’ top breakout candidates, and for good reason. Another former North Carolina Tar Heel is standing out at Broncos camp. Marvin Austin, once a top five draft prospect turned NFL question mark has made his way to the Broncos after stints with the Giants, Dolphins, and Cowboys, but hopefully he’s now found a home in Denver. We passed along reports yesterday of Austin’s development over the course of the offseason, and his standout performance continued on day five of camp.
This has been quite an offseason for the Broncos’ defensive line. One player who has been relatively quiet is second year defensive end Quanterus Smith, who many believe is in line to take one of the 53 roster spots and even contribute as a situational pass rusher this year.
With DeMarcus Ware out, Malik Jackson was inserted into the starting lineup, but Smith showed off some of his abilities in making plays behind the line of scrimmage.
One player having a breakout camp is Duke undrafted free agent Kenny Anunike, a defensive end who showed great improvement over the course of his career as a Blue Devil. Anunike drew praise from Andrew Mason — in my opinion the best Broncos follow out there — for his work in one-on-one drills.
So, as you can see, this is shaping up to be a really strong offseason for the Broncos’ defensive line. They are too big and strong to run right at them. You can’t run around them. They are deep, versatile, strong, and have a great mix of young players and experience.