If you can’t sign Bane, Brandon Mebane is a good second choice
TJ JohnsonMay 21, 2011 2:22 PM
If you've ever followed the comic book hero Batman, you're no doubt aware of a fellow named Bane.
Bane was one of the Caped Crusader's strongest adversaries. Raised in a South American prison and classically educated by a Jesuit priest, Bane acquired six languages by the time he broke out of prison as an adult. During his prison stint, he was used as an experimental test subject for a drug known as "venom." From the picture, you can see that it turned him into quite the physical specimen.
Some might say he was a renaissance man--that is, if you can get past the whole shanking guys in prison thing.
I've personally wanted the Broncos to bring Bane in for a look at defensive tackle. Forget taking on the double team. I'm pretty sure other teams would have to put three blockers on him. However, once the CBA was signed, Roger Goodell might be inclinded to look into Bane's "venom" addiction. If "venom" isn't already on the banned substance list, it ought to be.
Fortunately for the Broncos, there is another run-stopping defensive tackle out on the free-agent market: Brandon Mebane. He's never single-handedly run a crime syndicate, but he can still put a hurt on the opposition. The Broncos should take a long look at Mebane.
Last week, we briefly looked at Barry Cofield of the Giants as an option for the Broncos at defensive tackle. Cofield is an answer if the Broncos are looking at upgrading the pass rush from the defensive tackle position. However, Mebane, as you'll soon see, is a better option for stopping the run.
Here's some tape on Mebane from YouTube(Warning: turn down the volume if you don't like music with a few choice f-bombs):
This is a highlight package, so one needs to take it with a grain of salt. However, it's sufficient to demonstrate Mebane's strengths:
All-Pro run support
Anchor-like abilities against the double team; never goes backwards
Takes on the double team like an animal
Plays both NT and 3-technique.
Plays low and uses leverage
Displays surprising burst and quickness off the ball
The ability to stuff and shed when he's facing a single lineman
The one knock on Mebane is his lack of a strong pass rush, specifically since he moved from NT to the 3-technique. Mebane, however, defended himself against such claims recently in the News Tribune:
The thinking out there that my production was down is probably because my sacks were down. But the thing you have to look at is who I had next to me. Rocky Bernard is a well-respected player. A lot of people don’t realize it takes two people to be on the same page to have good production. Can’t one man do it by yourself – it takes two. I can play both the 3-tech and nose tackle, and there aren’t too many guys out there that can play both. I feel like my production has been real good the last four years. I put pressure on the quarterback my third and fourth year.
As Tribune staff writer Eric Williams pointed out in the article, Mebane had faced more double teams after Bernard departed the Seahawks for the Giants. So there's a lot of truth to what Mebane is saying. However, it's clear from the video that Mebane is neither Ndamukong Suh nor Nick Fairley.
The more important concern, though, is whether he would be a good fit for the Broncos. Quick, everyone nod their heads.
Now that we've all agreed, let's look at the reasons why. First, the Broncos, whether you believe they will have less of a focus on the DT position in a Dennis Allen or John Fox 4-3 or not , will need help on the defensive line. They've drafted zero defensive tackles in the last three drafts; the two free agents they signed last year, they've cut. Will Justin Bannan be back at a reduced rate and with significant scar tissue to his ego? Who knows? Signing Mebane would be an immediate upgrade. Second, as Mebane himself said, he can play both a 3-technique and a more tradition nose tackle. This would provide the Broncos with the critical flexibility they'll need to implement some of the complex fronts that Dennis Allen will no doubt want to run. Third, Mebane eats up double teams like Al Davis does Sunday-school children. This will allow the Broncos' fresh new toy, Buzz Light MIller, to wreak absolute hell in open space. It would also allow the Broncos to put Marcus Thomas at his natural position of 3-technique.
It could be a tasty little morsel.
And it wouldn't require signing a guy who one broke Bruce Wayne's back. That's just not cool.
I’m glad we had this talk. Now, vaya con Dios, Brah.