If there was a theme to this year’s NFL draft for the Broncos, it was one set in place from the day Vance Joseph arrived in early January.
In his first address from Broncos headquarters, the team’s new head coach used the word “tough” seven times, unsolicited. It’s a tough game, he said. It’s a tough business. It’s a tough, long season.
So, after adding 1,200 pounds of new talent to the offensive and defensive lines in free agency, Joseph and general manager John Elway landed two more pieces in the first two rounds of the draft that fit their new mold of “teddy bear toughness” — demons on the field and good guys off.
Cheap Jerseys Bolles, the 24-year-old family man who vows to be a nasty jerk on the field, was the first piece.
DeMarcus Walker, the quarterback menace out of Florida State, was the second.
Soon after landing in Colorado, Walker promised total domination. He admitted to feeling bitter, and angry, about still being available in the second round. And he made a public promise to “show them.”
Yet, behind the scenes, outside the team’s training facility, where nearly a foot of snow had fallen since the time he was drafted, that intimidation faded and was replaced by a smile and the giddiness of a toddler.
DeMarcus Walker, the 6-foot-4, 280-pound lineman who amassed 16 sacks last season, saw and felt snow for the very first time. This, after one of his NFL idols, Von Miller, texted him to welcome him to the Broncos’ elite room of pass rushers.
“Last night, I was at my hotel room and I’m getting texts,” Walker said. “T.J. Ward, (Aqib) Talib, everybody is texting me, and the next thing I know, I said, ‘If Von texts me, I’m going to go crazy,’ and literally, I was on my other phone and literally about to go to sleep and something told me to just check my other phone and it was him. I went crazy. I jumped out of the bed and went crazy.”
What. A. Day.
The euphoria was a long time coming, and Walker clearly cherished every moment, donning a Broncos cap and holding up an orange Broncos jersey alongside defensive line coach Bill Kollar as the cameras flashed.
The 22-year-old Jacksonville, Fla., native returned for his senior season to fulfill at least a couple personal promises. One was to his mother, Cheap nfl Jerseys who insisted he graduate. He obliged, taking 16 credits during the football season to finish his social science degree in three and a half years.
“Sixteen hours. Captain. Gotta produce every game,” he said. “The power of the mind is not a joke.”
The other was “to show them.”
DeMarcus Walker Chad KellyStreeter Lecka, Getty ImagesWalker sacked quarterback Chad Kelly, the Broncos’ seventh-round draft pick, 4.5 times in a Florida State win over Ole Miss last year.
And he did, with a sack total that ranked second in FBS — 4.5 of those were reserved for fellow Broncos rookie Chad Kelly in a Florida State win over Ole Miss last season — and a total of 41.5 tackles for loss that helped to earn him a spot on the Broncos’ draft board.
The Broncos never really made up for the loss of defensive end Malik Jackson in 2016 free agency. They thought they had a plan, but it quickly fell through when Vance Walker suffered a season-ending knee injury in training camp.
From Week 1, the Customized Jerseys defensive hole was exposed and only grew wider as the season progressed. The run defense that held opponents to 83.6 yards per game on the ground in 2015 allowed 130.3 in 2016. The defensive line was quickly revamped in free agency this past March with signings of veteran nose tackle Domata Peko and defensive end Zach Kerr.
But DeMarcus Walker might be the biggest prize. At least, the newest and shiniest one.
“He can play inside, he can play outside, and so you just never have enough good pass rushers,” Elway said. “You look at our defense and where our defense was two years ago, and V.J. and I were talking about this, how effective we were when we had Malik inside and rushing inside. DeMarcus has that ability and will have that ability. That’s why we’re so excited about him.”
Elway’s love for pass rushers can never be questioned. His first draft pick as an NFL executive was Miller. Among his biggest risks and feats was signing DeMarcus Ware off the street and overhauling Denver’s defense in 2014. He traded up to draft Shane Ray in 2015, when his outside linebacker group already featured a pair of all-pro pass rushers. And now he got a guy he tried, many times, to trade up to Denver Broncos Jerseys draft Friday night.
“We made a lot of attempts to get up,” Elway said. “We kept just missing, and sure enough, thankfully, DeMarcus kept falling back to us.
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