The success of the Denver Broncos defense in 2012 will be determined by the effectiveness of a new-look defensive tackle rotation. Veterans Kevin Vickerson and Ty Warren are the best candidates to step in.
Both have had issues in Denver. Vickerson appeared in only five games last season, after making 12 starts in 2010. He has good size and decent initial quickness, but has failed to make a significant impact since coming over from the Tennessee Titans.
Warren missed the entire 2011 campaign with a serious triceps injury and was forced to restructure his deal this offseason. After some initial resistance, Warren recently agreed new terms, according to NFL.com. He is the best option to start.
The 31-year-old can act as a 2-gapper in Denver's front, allowing the other tackle to act as more of a pass-rush threat. At 6'5" and 300 pounds, Warren has the size to act as the focal point for the run defense.
During his years with the New England Patriots, Warren was expected to draw and hold double-teams. He developed in a scheme designed to clear lanes for linebackers. He can create more room for Joe Mays and D.J. Williams to attack the ball.
Warren can also help top draft pick Derek Wolfe. The second-rounder notched 9.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss last season and he offers the kind of pass-rush potential the Broncos need at the heart of their defensive front. He offers more playmaking ability than journeyman Justin Bannan and youngster Sealver Siliga.
Wolfe is a natural three-technique, who uses his hands well and possesses good quickness along the line. Having a player regularly pressure the pocket from the inside can be crucial for the Broncos. It will prevent quarterbacks from being able to step up and escape Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.
Good defensive tackle tandems work best when they have complimentary styles. A more dynamic athlete, working in tandem with a stay-at-home run-stopper, often produce the best results. Pairing Warren and Wolfe together is better for Denver's defensive front in multiple ways.