Let's take a look at this defense going into training camp.
When looking at the defensive tackle position for the Broncos, you have to break it up into 2 parts.
1. Run downs- Siliga, and Vickerson were the starting DT's in OTA's. Keep in mind that Ty Warren was working on a contract re-negotiation. He should be challenging Siliga for that starting spot at NT. Siliga has beefed up to 330 and looks like he can fill that tank role on the inside that Del Rio needs from his NT's. Even if he does start, look for him to be a one or two down player. At best he can push the pocket at times, but really adds nothing in terms of pass rush. A healty Ty Warren does. Either one of these two can be the key to huge improvements on this defense in 2012. Justin Bannan also brings a solid run stuffing presence in the middle. Wolfe will be backing up big Vick on running downs at the UT spot. Ben Garland and Mitch Unrein will be fighting for a spot on the line as well. Both will need help to make the final roster.
2. Passing downs- The Broncos like to bring a DE in on passing downs to add quickness to the pass rush. This will be Wolfe's best opportunity to make a splash in 2012. Pass rushing is his specialty. The Broncos used Ayers frequently inside on passing downs last season, but they need a more dynamic pass rusher there. Wolfe, Vick, Warren, and Malik Jackson should all see some time inside on passing downs.
Overall- If Warren stays healthy and Wolfe pans out, the Broncos have improved in this area. Stopping the run was once again a weakness last season. It looks like Del Rio and Fox are commited to making it happen this year. I became a big fan of Del Rio the minute he stated that the Broncos want to be more stout up the middle. He likes the big bodies. With Vick up to 324 and Siliga at 330, that's some serious beef at the point of attack. Warren and Wolfe are both very strong players despite weighing in at around 300.
This is one position that may be fluid this season. On the left side the Broncos already have Wolfe backing up Ayers at DE on running downs. He brings more size and pass rush ability on the outside than Ayers does. Malik Jackson brings some pass rush ability as well. The rookie is going to have to make some splashes in the preseason to get some time on the field once the regular season starts. Garland may see some time with the backups at DE as well. If some of these young fellas look good in preseason, I wouldn't be surprised to see Ayers moved for a draft pick. He's a solid player, but he is one dimensional. He'll have some value on the market, and is in the last year of his contract.
On the right side we have Doom. We know he can get to the passer. The big question is whether the Broncos move him to the sideline on obvious running downs. He's been OK against the run, but keeping him fresher would might work to the Broncos advantage. If all goes well, the Broncos should be playing with the lead a lot more often this season. Keeping the pass rushers fresh will be more important than ever. Hunter is a solid backup and the Broncos showed him just how much they value him by re-signing him in the offseason.
Overall- This is a position that has been improved over the offseason. Wolfe, Jackson, and Garland all bring great size, length, and tenacity to the table.
Von Miller is what we thought he was- a stud. The only thing that could slow him down last season was a broken hand. By all accounts, he has worked hard over the offseason and is coming in with some added muscle. That's a scary thought for opposing offenses. He's a superstar in the making. Joe Mays got a fat new 8 million dollar contract in the offseason. I'm going to defer to Del Rio on this one. There is no way that I would have brought him back. Maybe that's why I'm not a defensive coordinator in the NFL. Let's hope he's much improved this season. On the other side is where it gets sticky. It looks like DJ will gone for at least the first 6 games. Woodyard should be the starter going into camp. I thought it was very interesting that Nate Irving was moved over to the WLB spot. I think he's a better fit there than at MLB. He was good in coverage in college and brings nice size and speed to the position. He's my darkhorse to steal a starting spot in camp. Mohamed, Franklin, and Coffey will all be fighting for spots as well. Special teams will go a long ways in determining who sticks out of those three.
Overall- Linebacker is by far the weakest position on this defense. I don't know if DJ is even on the roster when the first game rolls around. Let's hope that the defensive line improvement makes up for the lack of overall talent at LB.
The addition of Mike Adams is going to improve this unit immediately. Having a solid veteran that gets himself in the right position and makes the open field tackle is critical. Great signing by Elway. Rahim Moore and Quincy Carter will compete at the SS spot. Both can play either safety spot, but Carter is a natural fit at SS. I expect him to win the position coming out of camp. Moore has better speed, but Carter is a much more reliable tackler. Bruton is still the best special teams player on the team. He'll stick for that reason alone. Rafael Bush is the odd man out here.
Overall- This is another position that was improved in the offseason. Adams is the starter at FS and brings the reliability that was missing last season once Bdawk went down to injury. Dawks leadership will be missed, but I still see improved play overall at the safety position.
Champ is still a top 5 corner in the NFL. The Broncos were exposed last season when the defense was spread out. Elway and Fox both stated that improving in that area was one of the highest priorities in the offseason. Mission accomplished. The additions of Porter and Florence should do the trick. Both will have thier chance to start opposite Champ. The other will move to the nickel spot. What a huge improvement over last season. Harris moves to the dime, and I expect rookie Omar Bolden to turn some heads in camp. Coryell Judie has a chance to make this team as a kick returner.
Overall- The Broncos corners are night and day better than what they put on the field last season. Look for this defense to come away with more interceptions and less 40 point games by the opposing teams.
The Broncos defense has made some big improvements. Getting Del Rio was a just another in a long line of smart moves by Elway. We've heard all of the past coordinators talk about making a commitment to stop the run, but this guy has actually done it successfully in the NFL as both a coordinator and a head coach. Losing Dennis Allen might be the 2nd best thing to happen to this team in the offseason. Despite the lack of improvement at LB, the defense should be improved this season. Elway has geared this D toward playing with a lead. Good corners, pass rushers, and a stud D coordinator all spell success when this team is playing with the lead. The big question is whether or not they actually stop the run when they have to. If they can improve in that area, it should be a lot of fun watching these guys play.