Broncos roster: Derrek Tuszka can be an underrated weapon in 2021

Denver Broncos roster 2021: Derrek Tuszka - Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos roster 2021: Derrek Tuszka - Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos roster has a solidified top three off the edge with Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, and Malik Reed. Although those three guys will likely play a majority of snaps so long as they all stay healthy, who will emerge as the fourth and maybe fifth options off the edge for this team?

Derrek Tuszka, a seventh-round pick by the Broncos in the 2020 NFL Draft, has as good of a chance as anyone on the Broncos roster right now to emerge in that role.

Tuszka was given basically a working redshirt in the 2020 season. He was called up off the practice squad to be a body on special teams for nine games and wound up playing 177 total special teams snaps. He played just 27 defensive snaps but with all of the work he received, Tuszka was able to rack up six tackles and even a tackle for loss as a rookie.

The Broncos made it clear during Tuszka’s rookie training camp that he was going to need some seasoning and some work in the weight room before he could consistently carve out a role in the defense, and despite the injury to Von Miller, they stuck to that plan with Tuszka as fans endured 164 snaps of Anthony Chickillo.


Broncos roster: Derrek Tuszka’s time to shine

The departure of Jeremiah Attaochu in free agency (Chicago Bears) along with the team letting Chickillo walk in free agency opens up nearly 600 snaps in the rotation. Of course, Miller being back and healthy will take up a lot of that.

Realistically, what kind of role is Tuszka looking at in 2021? Is 200 snaps over-shooting things?


The Broncos will likely work to make sure Miller and Chubb are on the field as much as possible, especially late in games. Malik Reed will probably play at least 500-600 snaps.

Tuszka is going to need to really capitalize over the rest of the offseason first and foremost to just make the team, but second to make it clear what his role should be this coming season.

If Tuszka shows in training camp and preseason play that he’s stronger off the edge and explosive off the ball, the Broncos may not be able to keep him off the field and would need to find packages for him to play regardless of everyone’s health.

Tuszka was a ferocious rusher at North Dakota State with a combination of impressive bend, quickness off the snap, and finishing ability once he got to the quarterback.

The 2020 season was tough on pretty much every young player, but contributing to the Vic Fangio defense almost seems to require a year of learning and studying.

Tuszka was drinking through a fire hose in his rookie season but there’s a chance now in 2021 that he can do a little bit less “thinking” out there and a little bit more playing. If that’s the case, don’t be surprised to see Tuszka emerge in preseason play, which he didn’t have the luxury of in 2020.