Denver Broncos run defense will be major X-factor in 2022

Denver Broncos, DJ Jones - Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos, DJ Jones - Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos’ run defense was the weakest part of the defense, and perhaps roster, in 2021. Can this unit rebound in a crucial 2022 season?  It was clear that Denver needed to get better up front, and General Manager George Paton made sure that happened.

He signed DJ Jones in free agency from the San Francisco 49ers.  Jones is arguably the best run stuffer in the NFL but doesn’t do much for the pass rush, which is fine, because that’s not why he was signed for  $10 million per season.

The team also drafted Eyioma Uwazurike and Matt Henningsen in the 2022 NFL Draft to bolster this unit.  Denver had to try and cover up for losing Shelby Harris while also trying to get stronger as an overall unit.

In this year’s offseason, the defensive line wasn’t spectacular.  Both DJ Jones and Dre’Mont Jones are incredibly talented players, and to be fair, we didn’t get to see them in the preseason action.  What we did see was the primary backups not exactly hold their own.

Overall, this unit does have some nice players, but if they can’t improve on their middle-of-the-pack rush defense ranking in 2021, the defense as a whole will take a step back.

The secondary is virtually the same.  K’Waun Williams essentially replaces Bryce Callahan, which is basically a wash, but the rest of the bodies outside of Damarri Mathis have all been with the team.  George Paton also put an emphasis on the pass rush as well.  Randy Gregory, Bradley Chubb, Baron Browning, and Nik Bonitto form an unproven but insanely promising unit.

The Broncos appear to have it settled in the secondary, and I think it’s likely that the team’s new EDGE unit will indeed get to the quarterback with ease, but will the revamped defensive line be able to step up?  I don’t think we need this to be a top-five unit, but I would say that this unit on defense is the one that has the lowest floor.

If either of the Joneses needs to miss games, are we sure that guys like Purcell, Uwazurike, and Henningsen can step up?  Two rookies in this group are likely going to play notable snaps during the season, and are we sure that DeShawn Williams, who has been a backup thus far, is capable enough to be that third starter?

I would hate for Denver to get gouged on the ground before they look to other solutions along the defensive line.  Signing someone like Ndamukong Suh, who at this point has his own author page on Predominantly Orange, would make so much sense for the Broncos to ensure their defensive line isn’t a liability in 2022.