Broncos DL Kenny Anunike Could Carve Out Prominent Role


There’s plenty to be excited about on this Denver Broncos roster, not the least of which is the return of a healthy Kenny Anunike.

Anunike, a defensive end out of Duke who missed all of last season with an injury, is back in 2015 and ready to prove he is still worthy of the roster spot he had apparently locked down less than a year ago before learning of his season-ending elbow injury.

Anunike was nearly dominant in practice, consistently making plays behind the line of scrimmage while showing excellent quickness and explosiveness off the ball, and some of the potential to physically dominate like he showed in an injury-riddled six-year career as a member of the Duke Blue Devils.

If you look at the Broncos’ roster, they have more Duke players than a lot of professional basketball teams. Anunike is a guy that some Broncos fans have developed a bit of a man-crush for, and for good reason. This guy seems like the real deal, and according to a practice report from Andrew Mason, the second year player has been stealing the show a little bit.

May 27, 2015; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos defensive end Kenny Anunike (91) during organized team activities at the Broncos training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

“During one period late in practice, he wreaked havoc, swatting away one Dysert pass at the line of scrimmage and surging past Matt Paradis and Shelley Smith to generate later in the series, which went along with a pressure he mounted on Osweiler moving inside of rookie Max Garcia.

But Anunike’s tipped passes — one each against Dysert and Osweiler — might have been his most impressive plays of the day. On both, he didn’t have a big pass-rush lane, so he pulled back and moved inside to get in better position to deflect the attempts. This is exactly what the Broncos’ defensive coaches want to see: linemen who quickly get their hands up.”

This year, as Mason points out, Anunike is going to have to make the roster from a different position than he was drafted at now playing as a 3- and 5-technique on a 3-4 defensive line.

The new role will be interesting to monitor as far as Anunike’s progress, but it really doesn’t seem like it’s going to negatively affect his productivity. Coming back from injury, he’s already making headlines at OTA practices.

Roster spots on the defensive line for the Broncos this year might be scarce, but a very disturbing situation surrounding Antonio Smith could pave the way for a guy like Anunike to find his way onto the active roster. At worst, I could see him on the practice squad as an emergency option, but if he’s as disruptive in pre-season games as he has been in practice, perhaps the Broncos will choose to keep him around and even throw him into the rotation.

Anunike has apparently added 10-15 pounds to his frame to be more of an edge setter in the 3-4, but he is still easily the Broncos’ smallest defensive lineman right now.

And I think that’s okay. Guys who can create disruption on a consistent basis and give you incredible effort play in and play out don’t come around all the time.

Here’s hoping this guy makes the team.

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