INDIANAPOLIS -- As the on-field workouts continued Sunday at the NFL’s scouting combine, some players who will be of interest to the Denver Broncos were on display.
Sunday the defensive linemen and linebackers got to work.
With Danny Trevathan coming off three separate injuries to his left leg that kept him out of all but three games last season and with Nate Irving, who finished the season on injured reserve after knee surgery, scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, the Broncos will look hard at this year’s group of inside linebackers. While every team will certainly look at the group differently, it’s generally not considered that deep a position on this draft board. So the Broncos may have to consider an earlier pick to get the guy they want. Two players considered slightly undersized who will still continue to get the Broncos’ attention are Miami’s Denzel Perryman and UCLA’s Eric Kendricks. Perryman measured in at 5-foot-10 3/4 in Indy, while Kendricks was 6-0 1/4. But both were sure tacklers who consistently showed up in the run defense. Among the bigger players at the position who will get a look as well from the Broncos will be Benardrick McKinney (6-4 1/8, 246), who clocked an official 40 time of 4.66 Sunday.
Perryman, especially, has drawn interest at the combine from teams running a 3-4 defense, as the Broncos will run in the upcoming season. He suffered a pulled an abdominal muscle in a Senior Bowl practice and did not play in the all-star game. Perryman said in his meetings with teams that his discussions of a 3-4 defense were “pretty much second nature to me." And asked to describe his playing style, he said he believed he could, and should, be the first inside linebacker taken in the draft and called himself “a downhill, hard-nosed dog."
Washington’s Shaq Thompson won this year’s Hornung Award, given annually the nation’s “most versatile player." He scored two touchdowns as a running back in the 2014 season and four on defense -- one interception return for a score and three fumble returns for scores. Against Eastern Washington he had 15 tackles on defense and carried the ball three times on offense for 66 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown run. So, in theory, he could help solve the Broncos’ needs for a linebacker and, to a smaller extent, as a situational fullback. However, Thompson said at the combine he intended to play only linebacker in the NFL, and when asked about running back he said, “No, running back is out of the question." Thompson, at 228 pounds, was officially clocked at 4.64 in the 40 on Sunday.
The Broncos had all of their top talent evaluators at Sunday’s workouts -- including executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway, director of player personnel Matt Russell, director of pro personnel Tom Heckert and coach Gary Kubiak -- and they will give plenty of consideration to the defensive linemen they saw work Sunday. But many coaches on hand in Indy said this week they also expected to see a big jump in the Broncos’ defensive line play with the arrival of defensive line coach Bill Kollar, who is one of the most respected assistants in the league and represents a major coup for Kubiak given he was under contract with the Texans when Houston coach Bill O’Brien allowed Kollar to pursue the Broncos’ job. Kollar gets three potential starters on the defensive line still in their first contract in Sylvester Williams, Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson -- all Broncos draft picks -- to go with his work with Von Miller.
Elway addressed, in particular, Kollar’s potential impact on Williams, a first-round pick in the 2013 draft, this past week at the combine. “I think Sylvester’s still growing," Elway said. “We still like Sylvester, still think there’s a lot of potential there, not sure that he’s scratched it yet. If there’s any guy who can get it out of him it’s Bill Kollar. ... Sylvester is going to get tested and he’s going to get pushed."