With the likelihood of the Broncos losing Malik Jackson to free agency, there is one player on the roster that could fill in the shoes of Jackson well.
With Von Miller receiving the exclusive franchise tag Tuesday, it places a lot of pressure on the Broncos in order to retain the core of the defense in order to defend the Super Bowl title in 2016.
One of the causalities of this could be be Malik Jackson going to another team in free agency. There is no doubt that Jackson was a key part in the defense this season. But similar to how free agency played for the Broncos the past two seasons, they will not be able to afford to bring everyone back.
So, if Jackson gets his big deal elsewhere, who could fill in his shoes? I have one player in mind that I have a feeling would be a great fit in the Broncos defense.
Enter Broncos defensive end Kenny Anunike.
Yes, he has been placed on injured reserve for the past two seasons. However, we saw what he was capable in the preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks this past season. He was a beast in that game.
Sadly, injuries have hampered his ability to get on the field. He appeared to be on his way to being able to play in a game until he was placed on injured reserve this season.
The man known at Duke University as “Night Train,” Anunike could be that force to team up with Derek Wolfe on the Broncos defense to stop the run and get some sacks as well. He explodes right off of the line and can be a problem for opposing quarterbacks.
In his collegiate days as a Duke Blue Devil, Anunike accumulated 148 tackles, 15 sacks, and four forced fumbles. 2016 will be the final year of his contract, so why not give him a chance to plug him into a role on the defense and see what he can do.
Perhaps losing Jackson might not be the end of the world, especially if there is untapped potential in Kenny Anunike waiting in the wings. I say Elway and the Broncos give him a shot if Jackson leaves in free agency. It might be well worth it.