2011 NFL Draft: Why the Denver Broncos Should Pass on a DT in the First Round

Erick SpaltiCorrespondent IMarch 2, 2011

Denver Broncos Head Coach John Fox
Denver Broncos Head Coach John FoxJustin Edmonds/Getty Images

People keep saying the Denver Broncos have a big question mark at defensive tackle, but I just don't see where they get that assessment.

Justin Bannan will play defensive tackle just as he did in Baltimore. The Broncos still have Jamal Williams under contract as well. Both have proven to be productive players at defensive tackle although Williams had problems staying healthy last year.

Ryan Mcbean, Marcus Thomas, Leonard Lewis, Mitch Unrein and Kevin Vickerson are all players currently on the Broncos roster who can play DT, as they are all too big to play DE in the 4-3 scheme that Head Coach John Fox employs.

The Broncos have a bigger need at linebacker after moving both Robert Ayers and Elvis Dumervil to DE and Cornerback with Andre Goodman and Champ Bailey both in their 30's (Perrish Cox facing possible prison time doesn't help either).

"The guys on both lines, both offensively and defensively, are as good as I can remember," Fox said. "There are a couple guys at the top of the linebacker group that are interesting, but the offensive and defensive lines are the deepest spots."

I personally believe that Patrick Peterson or Von Miller will be the selection after watching both blow-up the NFL Combine and listening to John Fox's comments about how he likes the depth and value on both lines in the later rounds of the draft.

Patrick Peterson ran a blazing 4.34 40 time at 6'0'' tall, 219 pounds (John Fox personally attended the DB workouts). Peterson's ball skills are as good as any corner prospect in the last 10 years, although he could be a bit more fluid in his backpedal. With Champ Bailey as a teacher, the sky would be the limit and give the Denver Broncos arguably one of the most talented starting corner tandems in the NFL. Peterson's kick returning skills are an added bonus.
Von Miller's versatility and production in college speak for themselves.  Also, having a player like D.J. Williams to learn from (who's started at all three LB positions) would only hasten Miller's development. Miller didn't hurt himself either at the Combine with a 4.53 40-yard dash time, 37-inch vertical leap, and 21 bench reps of 225 pounds. He looked polished and aware through his position drills, and solidified his position as a possible top 10 draft pick.

The Denver Broncos have one of the weakest LB corps in the NFL, and moving Robert Ayers and Elvis Dumervil to defensive end will only make it weaker.

Looking for defensive line help later in the draft seems to be a much more likely possibility, but only time will tell.

John Elway spoke highly of Patrick Peterson when asked his assessment earlier this week.

“He is a great athlete and not only as a defensive player, but as a returner,” Elway said. “He is special as a returner. He is a guy that can do a lot of different things for you. Athletically, he is as good as anybody in the draft…he has good size and is a guy that can make some big plays. I think especially at the cornerback position, you like those guys that can make those plays, because those are game changers.”

Neither Peterson nor Miller face any of the character concerns currently associated with other players being considered for the Broncos pick.  This includes QB Cam Newton (father's behavior/work ethic/inaccuracy at Combine) and DT Nick Fairley (dirty player tag). 

Only time will tell if the Denver Broncos make the right selection in this years' draft, but it appears to me that they realize that they may have bigger needs than defensive tackle.

Hopefully John Elway and John Fox make the best choice for the organization; this pick marks the beginning of their tenure in Denver. They need it to start better than Josh McDaniel's did for themselves and the fans.