With just under a month before the first preseason game, and an off season where team transactions were lead stories more often than not, the Denver Broncos are looking to make more than just headlines this season. With a solid incoming class of rookies, and the addition of veteran quarterback, Peyton Manning, there will be plenty of opportunities for Denver to take another step on the path to the rebuilding talked about by V.P. of Football Operations, John Elway and team owner, Pat Bowlen.
A large part of the rebuild has to focus on the gaps in the team’s defense. While the 2011 season produced some decent numbers, the size of the defense often made it difficult to stop opponents with a solid offensive line. This in turn allowed opposing quarterbacks both time in the pocket and room to run…enter Denver’s 2nd round draft pick, Derek Wolfe from Cincinnati. At 6’5” and 295 lbs, Wolfe will bring a solid stance to the defensive tackle position. However it’s not just his size that the Broncos will be eager to see as training camp opens and we move into the 2012 season.
While not a player whose name many Broncos fans may have been familiar with before the draft, Wolfe certainly made an impact with the Bearcats. Particularly in his senior season, which almost didn’t happen. Wolfe had at one time considered leaving Cincinnati as a junior and entering the 2011 draft. After some soul searching and talk with his coach, Wolfe remained in Cincinnati and put up some impressive numbers his senior year. Numbers like his 9.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for a loss, gained him the Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year award and the eye of the Broncos organization. In addition to his ability to bring down offensive players, Wolfe has a mentality which has new defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio eager to see Wolfe on the field.
Wolfe is described as a football junkie and a player with the instinct to know how and when to split tackles and just where to get his hands on an opponent to either stop them, or to get past them and into the quarterback’s line of sight. Lining up against teams with offenses such as the Patriots and the Steelers, Wolfe’s skill set should increase Denver’s return to Orange Crush Defense status. His background growing up in Lisbon, Ohio and having to work hard to reach the NFL has given Wolfe a character base that Denver seeks to bring into its locker room.
Wrap all that together and Derek Wolfe may just be the wrapping on the gift this 2012 Season.