I’m a Florida Gators fan, which everybody knows, but that’s not the reason that I like Derrick Harvey. I think the guy has been a pretty good NFL player since he came into the League, but that he has been judged through the prism of being the eighth-overall pick in a Draft and not showing the pass-rushing production of a pick that high.
Harvey is very solid against the run, but has never shown the quick-twitch athleticism that it takes to be a dominant pass rusher. The truth is, he’s never been that kind of player, even going back to his college days, when he got a lot of sacks.
What Harvey is, is a guy who’s pretty similar to Robert Ayers, and who would presumably compete with Ayers and maybe Jeremy Jarmon at the Left DE spot, and likely serve as a quality backup/rotation guy in that role. With Harvey on the team, you can now be confident that if Ayers misses a month, the Broncos' edge run defense won’t suddenly be terrible on his side.
Remember that 59-14 home debacle against Oakland, where there were giant holes throughout the game on the offense’s right/defense’s left side? I’ve been trying to forget it too, but the fact is, it happened, and Ayers was sorely missed on one of the worst days in franchise history.
Harvey is an upgrade to the defensive line depth of the Broncos, and another move by the Broncos’ leadership which is presumably cost-effective, and resultingly balances providing some help today with being wise for tomorrow.
To close, a quick point about talent and draft position. When a player gets picked eighth overall, that means that somebody once thought that player had some talent. A lot is made in the media around the concept that you wouldn’t take a defensive lineman in the first round unless you thought he was going to deliver a lot of sacks. That’s at least partially stupid, in the sense of DTs, but I would agree at some level that you want a high rate of return in the pass rush from edge players picked highly in the Draft.
If you don’t get that high rate of return, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the player is a bad player. Once he gets free of the original situation, he’s not a first-rounder anymore; now he’s just a player. If a new team can mine the talent that’s there, and get improved production, that’s a great thing. If you look at Jason Babin with the Titans, that’s exactly what happened. Gerard Warren is another guy who’s been a good player after moving on from his original team.
I say all this because I’d also be happy if Jamaal Anderson, the #8 pick of the 2007 Draft (by Atlanta) were to sign with Denver. He was a bust as a DE, but he’s actually been an above-average DT when he’s been shifted inside, especially against the run. He seems to be in a little higher demand, and may cost more, but I’d be glad if he’s a Bronco in 2011.