This will be the first of many articles in a weekly series that I will be doing called “Unsung Heroes”. For all of the fame and fortune that comes along with the stardom in the NFL, I thought it would be a nice change of pace to do stories on players that are often unheralded and quite frankly, not given the respect they deserve. For the first article in series, I decided to take a look at one of the longest tenured Broncos, David Bruton Jr.
Here’s some stats on the 7th year Bronco
NAME: David Bruton Jr.
Sep 13, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos strong safety David Bruton (30) in the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
SIZE: 6’2, 217 lbs
COLLEGE: Notre Dame
114th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Broncos
2015 Stats: 16 tackles, 1 sack, one force fumble, one interception
Career Stats: 128 tackles, 1 sack, 12 pass deflections, two interceptions, four forced fumbles
There couldn’t have been a better selection to be the first “Unsung hero” than David Bruton Jr. A 4th round pick in the 2009 draft by the Broncos, Bruton offered an intriguing combination of size and athleticism for the safety position. A knack for making plays on special teams, Bruton has the most special teams tackles of any Bronco in the last seven years with a grand total of 43. His play on the field and demeanor off the field have given his teammates the chance to elect him as a team captain, a duty in which he has had the last three seasons. Despite these great personal and professional achievements, he has only recorded six starts in his NFL career. Why only six starts, you may ask? I think it could be a variety of reasons. At any point in time, higher draft picks and/or high priced free agents took a bigger priority in the defensive gameplan, limiting Bruton’s time on defense.
Another reason for his limited defensive play could also come at the expense of his own excellence on special teams. When you have a player that is so consistent and reliable in one area of the game, it may be difficult to have him play in another phase often. That could spread a player thin and lead to a decrease in production. Regardless of the reason, Bruton’s consistent play and leadership abilities have earned the respect of his teammate and coaches, alike.
It’ll be fascinating to see how much time Bruton will continue to see on defense this year. Until recently, much of Bruton’s defensive snaps came as a direct result of injuries to starters or simply resting other players at certain points of the game. One thing that plays in Bruton’s favor is the way Wade Phillips calls his defenses. Phillips allows his players to do what they do best and make plays naturally. Bruton’s combination of size and speed (ran a sub 4.50 40 in the pre-draft process) allows him to be a possible defensive matchup against larger offensive weapons like Rob Gronkowski. in the modern NFL, passing the ball has been put at a premium. Having players that can cover tough mismatches are key to having any successful defense. I think this could give Bruton the opportunity to carve out a permanent role on this defense.
Off the field, Bruton has proven himself to be a great ambassador to the community. Amongst the number of charitable organizations that Bruton has contributed to, none has been more of a priority to him than his own charity, Bruton’s Books. The goal of Bruton’s Books is to provide children from low-income backgrounds become more fluent readers through providing tutors to schools and donating books to low income schools, classrooms and libraries. As a fan, I love seeing players like Bruton give back at every opportunity they can. Players like Bruton not only strengthen a team on the field, but their actions off the field help extend the positive reputation of the Broncos organization worldwide.
Whatever the reasoning may be for Bruton’s inconsistent defensive production throughout his career, here’s to hoping this new defensive philosophy will continue to get him on the field and make plays more often. For a guy that led the team in special teams tackles, been voted a team captain multiple times and is currently the longest tenured Broncos defensive player, it’s a shame that Bruton does not share the limelight that some of his teammates bask in.
In conclusion, I hope that this “Unsung Heroes” series will not only give Broncos fans the chance to learn more about unheralded players, but educates them about the importance of the players presence on the roster. If more people take notice of players like Bruton and give them the proper credit that they deserve, the stronger our bond with the team we love grows.
You can Follow David Bruton Jr. here- @D_Brut30
Bruton’s Books website- http://brutonsbooks.org/
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