In recent times, the Denver Broncos have been spoiled when it comes to edge rushers. The team knows the outside linebacker position is one they don’t have to worry about. Von Miller was drafted in 2011 and it’s been smooth sailing in that department since then. Denver has welcomed some real talent at the position – draft picks, free agents, undrafted free agents. However, the 2019 season holds some real question marks. Let’s see if the Broncos edge rushers are still a threat.
Denver Broncos Edge Rushers Are Still a Threat to Opponents
The absence of Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett will be felt, but in saying that, there was room for improvement from both players. Now with Miller and 2018 draft pick Bradley Chubb, will this unit once again reach its high expectations? Here’s where we stand with the current unit:
Von Miller – Three Years Under Contract
If he’s slowing down at 30 years old, it’s not obvious at all. In fact, Tylor Walden of Predominantly Orange believes “he is seemingly getting better with age.” With an ever-evolving game, he still has some ambitious goals as an individual.
Miller has the highest salary cap hit of any player on the Broncos ($25.125 million). The former Super Bowl MVP has been the foundation of this squad for years and it’s only right he gets paid accordingly.
Former defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ defensive scheme truly showcased Miller’s talents. New head coach Vic Fangio’s defensive coaching experience will hopefully bring out an even more dangerous side to Miller.
Bradley Chubb – Three Years Under Contract (Four With Team Option)
Chubb has the capability of being a real superstar, following in the footsteps of Miller. He was touted to be as talented as Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa, and the Broncos plucking him off the board at fifth overall in the 2018 draft was a steal.
He just stops short of being a natural wonder like Miller, but is still a solid investment and as Walden says, one the team can build a defense around.
In his rookie season, Chubb tallied 12 sacks and two forced fumbles. It was clear he wasn’t just someone to pick up the crumbs left behind by Miller. He is a big playmaker off the edge and his skillset keeps developing. Vic Fangio even believes that Chubb is “tailor-made” for the Broncos defense.
Dekoda Watson – One Year Under Contract
He’s the big brother of the group at 31 years old. But the Broncos felt that sacrificing a fifth-round pick was worth it for this guy.
He may not have a long resume but has been excellent in special teams and acquired some good stats as a pass rusher. There’s been speculation that his part in the San Francisco 49ers demolition of the Oakland Raiders last season was the reason for Denver picking him up. He also showed some real pass rush promise during the 2016 preseason he spent on the Broncos.
Watson is the kind of player who can come in, rush the passer, pass off the ball and play on special teams. An all-rounder.
Jeff Holland – One Year Under Contract
Described as another Shaquil Barrett, 23 year old Jeff Holland is a project. Out of Auburn, he had good tape but was lacking athleticism for his size. He did however earn 1st-team All-American and 1st-team All-SEC in his final year.
Holland went undrafted despite being tipped to be an early day 3 pick. In his last year with the Tigers, he had 9.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss and 22 pressures. He was scary off the edge.
Last season, he put some good pressure on Baker Mayfield, and was surprisingly good against the run.
Justin Hollins – Four Years Under Contract
Virtually no other edge position is comparable to Miller in speed, but Justin Hollins sure is.
He finished his last college season with five sacks, five force fumbles and an interception. He has some tricks up his sleeve. For example, he’ll appear to take a wide arc around the tackle and swipe right across them and attack the B-gap to get to the upfield.
It’s apparent that the Broncos picture him as a possible off-ball linebacker and matchup player in coverage.
It has been a joy to watch Denver’s edge players in past seasons. We can only hope that linebackers coach Brandon Staley will be able to continue bringing out the best in his guys.
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