The Denver Broncos 2013 Draft was very encouraging to me. I have been pounding my fist demonstrably for years and shouting to the wind for our team to address the interior of the Defensive Line, simply because the struggle for field position and dominance begins in the trenches. Controlling the Line of Scrimmage is half the battle and only as recent as last year, have the Broncos upgraded the Defensive Line interior through the draft. 2012 second-round pick Derek Wolfe was a very good beginning to this effort and by all accounts, this year’s first-round pick Sylvester Williams will continue this trend. Expectations are high from the North Carolina product. He has some big shoes to fill.
Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1967, only two other Defensive Tackles have been drafted with the 28th overall pick. One of them is a Broncos legend. Trevor Pryce was drafted by Denver in 1997 –16 years ago. Trevor started 9 seasons (7 in Denver), went to the Pro Bowl 4 times, made All-Pro once and finished his career with 91 Sacks.
Pryce played 121 games in Denver, with 114 starts. He averaged 35 Tackles and 7.1 Sacks in each of the 9 seasons he played for the Broncos. Taking into consideration the fact that he was injured in the opener in 2004 and those numbers get even better (40 TKL, 8 SK). During his rookie season, Trevor played in 8 games (3 Starts) with 24 Tackles and 2 Sacks.
I think it’s reasonable to expect Sylvester Williams to have better rookie numbers than Trevor Pryce did. If he plays 8-9 seasons in Denver and can average 40 Tackles and 6-8 Sacks, Sylvester will prove worthy of a first-round pick.
One of his teammates who will not only help, but benefit from William’s presence on the Defensive Line, is Derek Wolfe. The Broncos 2nd round draft pick last season had a terrific season. Derek started all 16 games, totaling 40 Tackles, 6 Sacks and 2 pass Breakups as a rookie in 2012. If the Broncos can get this kind of production from the WWII tandem, the thought of Elvis Dumervil will become a distant memory in the Mile High City.
One more stat I’d like to leave you with just to show a bit more history from 1st round Defensive Tackles, is a list of Defensive Tackles drafted in the 1st round, with the 25th through 32nd picks, from 1983 to 2013. The link is there if you want to delve further, but the gist of the matter is the Career Sack totals for these players.
Trevor Pryce – 91.0
Dana Stubblefield – 53.5
Scott Davis – 27.5
Henry Ford – 24.0
Chris Hovan – 22.0
Mike Patterson – 16.5
While we all know that the Broncos season revolves around Peyton Manning, the moves during Free Agency and the Draft to build up the Denver Defense will prove to be very important to the quest for a third Lombardi trophy coming home to the Mile High City.
Sylvester Williams will be a huge factor in that journey. That’s why he has some big shoes to fill.
– Kaptain Kirk