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A Broncos depth chart update: Defense

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Through the early part of NFL free agency, the Denver Broncos have seen six players who started at least one game for the team in the past two seasons leave and signed a handful of players to try and cover the losses.

They also hope they did the math correctly and that four compensatory draft picks are headed their way on Monday to give the Broncos at least a 10-player draft class. At the moment, they have 73 players under contract for the coming season -- 34 on offense, 34 on defense and five specialists.

Here's the second of a three-day look at the current depth chart; tracking the departures and the signings to see where work still needs to be done.

Today: Defense

Monday: Special teams

Defensive line: For the first time since 2010, the Broncos will sport a 3-4 look on defense this season. And while some of what they've done over the past four seasons has included plenty of 3-4 principles along the way, especially in the defensive front, it will be a change that will require some personnel decisions. With DeMarcus Ware likely to move to an outside linebacker spot, the Broncos have Malik Jackson and Derek Wolfe as the projected starters at end.

Overall, the Broncos have seven players they list at defensive end on the roster, but most do not fit the profile of an end in a 3-4 scheme. Also, at the moment, two of those players -- Chase Vaughn and Gerald Rivers -- are "futures" signees, as two others, Quanterus Smith and Kenny Anunike, spent all or part of the 2014 season on injured reserve. Vaughn, Rivers and Smith also check in at 258 or fewer pounds as well, with Vaughn at 260, so they are all undersized for end in the new scheme and really have the body types for outside linebackers in a 3-4.

Free-agent signee Vance Walker, a 305-pounder, has played end in the 3-4 previously in his career and is expected to be in the rotation there. But put all that with Sylvester Williams and Marvin Austin Jr. as the only candidates to play the nose tackle at the moment, with Walker as a possible stop-gap if needed, and the Broncos will have the defensive front on the draft radar.

Linebacker: The Broncos certainly like their starting point here with Ware and Von Miller projected to be the starting outside linebackers to go with Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan projected at the two inside linebacker spots if Trevathan's return from last season's leg injuries continues as the Broncos hope. At the moment Marshall is expected to be the middle linebacker on the inside with Trevathan in weak-side inside linebacker.

Both Marshall and Trevathan have had 100-tackle seasons over the past two years -- Marshall in '14, Trevathan in '13 -- so the Broncos spot a quality grouping in the starting lineup with two proven edge rushers and two productive, athletic players who play with assignment discipline on the inside.

They have some depth having re-signed Steven Johnson to go with two picks from last year's draft class in Corey Nelson and Lamin Barrow. Nelson and Barrow played 109 and 49 snaps respectively on defense last season, but the Broncos continue to like their potential.

Also, Lerentee McCray, who played 121 snaps on defense last season, is a player the Broncos' former coaching staff believed could be a situational rusher, so it remains to be seen what defensive coordinator Wade Phillips does with him. Reggie Walker also signed this past week as well and while Walker likely sees time on special teams first, he can play any of the four linebacker spots in a 3-4 if needed and started six games over the last two seasons for the San Diego Chargers.

Still, the Broncos, because Trevathan is coming off three separate left leg injuries, would give a long look to the bigger inside linebackers in the draft class.

Defensive back: Given most defensive coordinators in the league rarely feel like they have enough depth at cornerback in these pass-happy times, the Broncos will always look for value in a coverage player on the draft board.

But they like their starting point at cornerback these days with Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr., Bradley Roby and Kayvon Webster in the top four spots among the seven on the roster at the moment.

They signed Darian Stewart as an option to pair with T.J. Ward in some situations at safety, but they also have players such as Omar Bolden, Roby and Webster they can move around the formation in other personnel groupings, who are sure tacklers along the line of scrimmage and can cover in the open field.

The safety class in this draft is not considered deep, so for the teams who don't dive in early, they will have a difficult time in finding a player in the middle rounds worthy of the pick, but there is some value to be found at the back of the board.