Gut Reaction: Broncos draft Derek Wolfe with pick #36

The Broncos traded down for this?

That's probably the first reaction from most Broncos fans to the news Denver selected Derek Wolfe, defensive tackle from Cincinnati, with their #36 pick.  Jeff Legwold didn't even have Wolfe in his top 100.  Does it make you feel any better that Mel Kiper had the Broncos selecting Wolfe at pick #25 almost two weeks ago?

First, let's deal with the reality of this pick.  The Broncos did not just draft the best player available (BPA).  There were at least ten players on the board that were better BPA choices.  What they did was draft the best player on their board at their highest position of need.  After the Broncos signed Justin Bannan, their desire for a 4-3 nose tackle diminished, and so they were surely going to draft a penetrating 3-technique.  Many pundits had Jerel Worthy, Devon Still, Kendall Reyes, and even Billy Winn as better 3-techs.

That's a subjective decision, though.  In other words, Jeff Legwold's trash is Brian Xanders's treasure.  Obviously, the Broncos had Wolfe rated as a better player.  So, while it's legit to fault them for not taking the BPA, I find it difficult to fault them for not taking Worthy or one of the other tackles if they truly felt Wolfe was a better penetrating 3-tech.

Wolfe has one hell of a personality. He was just interviewed on 104.3 The Fan, where they caught him right off the farm from his chores with chickens and pigs (no joke).  When they asked him about coming to Denver, he said, "I can't wait!"  Then, later, he said, "I just like to kick ass!" 

Good enough for me.

Now that we've got this out of the way, let's get to the tape of Wolfe and see what we can think we think:

Pros:

  • It's hard to block him with a single player (look at 3:55 to get a great sense of this); can shed
  • He pushes the pocket
  • He's always near the ball, he's got great instincts, and his technique is solid
  • Production and effort are there on every play; doesn't take plays off
  • 3-down tackle

Cons:

  • Double teams wipe him out
  • Not a two-gap guy
  • Not considered a great athlete
  • No flash
  • Has short arms

Wolfe reminds me of Justin Bannan with a better pass rush.

My guess?  After watching all of Kevin Vickerson's snaps from last year, I think he beats out Kevin Vickerson immediately (assuming Bannan isn't the 3-tech starting UT).  Vickerson, even before his injury, just wasn't productive; he could be blocked with a single player almost always.

Long term, I think Wolfe is a solid pro for 5-6 years.  He may not have the same upside as a lot of the other tackles the Broncos could have drafted, but he also doesn't have the same bust potential.

And he's ready to kick ass.

(Note: Wolfe said in his interview, the Broncos never talked to him before today.  John Elway is getting better at misdirection.)

I’m glad we had this talk.  Now, vaya con Dios, Brah.

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