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Five defensive-line draft targets for the Denver Broncos

Ken Pomponio Avatar
April 24, 2015


Can a team really ever have enough quality defensive linemen in the NFL?

The short answer is a succinct “no,” and to that end the Denver Broncos have used their top pick on DL help (Derek Wolfe, second round, 2012 and Sylvester Williams, first round, 2013) in two of the last three drafts.

Wolfe and Williams, though, have merely been average at best so far and are penciled in as a starters in Wade Phillips’ new 3-4 defense along with 2012 fifth-round pick Malik Jackson. The Orange and Blue also have holdover Marvin Austin backing up Williams on the nose, and have added free-agent ends Antonio Smith and Vance Walker this offseason.

But that’s essentially the extent of the Broncos’ defensive-front depth chart – with the majority of the aforementioned names acquired as 4-3 pieces – so there’s definitely a need for some help. That in mind, here are thumbnail glances at a few defensive-line prospects John Elway and Co. might consider in the early rounds of next week’s draft:

DT Eddie Goldman (6-3, 335), Florida State

With Terrance Knighton departing, the Broncos’ primary defensive-line need is an up-front anchor on the nose, and Goldman would fill the bill. As a two-year starter at one of college football’s elite programs, Goldman is said to play with strong leverage and with exceptional hands and would be able to occupy multiple blockers and help stuff the run. That said, the Broncos are going to have to nab Goldman with their first-round pick (No. 28) because he won’t last much longer if he’s even there for the taking in the first place.

DE Arik Armstead (6-7, 292) Oregon

This raw but rapidly rising Pac-12 product is another player the Broncos are going to have to nab in the first round.Entering the draft after his junior season, Armstead has the size and athleticism to excel on the end in the odd front. Potential, though, may be this ex-Duck’s best asset, and, and if he adds a little more toughness and physicality to his game, he’ll be nearing a complete pro package.

DT Jordan Phillips (6-5, 330), Oklahoma

Phillips and the Broncos have been linked in many a mock draft so far, and it’s easy to see why. The former OU standout is the poster 3-4 nose tackle of the draft and a player with a potent blend of power and athleticism who has drawn more than one comparison to Knighton. Phillips did have his 2013 season cut short by back surgery but it still expected to be off the board by the middle of the second round at the latest.

DT Carl Davis (6-4, 320) Iowa

If the Broncos, as expected, fill an offensive-line need in the first round, Davis is a NT prospect that might fall to them in Round 2. The two-time second-team All-Big Ten selection is formidable against the run, playing with power and leverage – as he displayed in the Senior Bowl – but his pass-rush and backfield penetration skills need work after notching only 3.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for losses during his four seasons in Iowa City.

DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (6-3, 265), UCLA

Odighizuwa came back to earn second-team All-Pac-12 honors this past season after redshirting in 2013 due to surgery on both of his hips. And despite his chiseled physique, explosive athleticism and stand-out stats (24.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks), that medical red flag may drop him within the Broncos’ second-round reach. What is certain is that pronouncing and spelling this ex-Bruin’s name is going to be a chore in whichever NFL city he lands in.


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