Broncos Defensive Linemen Derek Wolfe Emerging as a Star

Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe (95) reacts after a play during the third quarter against the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 at Levi
Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe (95) reacts after a play during the third quarter against the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 at Levi /

The Denver Broncos have a lot of star talent on their defense with Von Miller, Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward, Chris Harris and a few others. On their defensive line they have a player who is emerging as a star in Derek Wolfe.

When the Denver Broncos drafted Derek Wolfe, it was to stabilize their defensive line. However, it was a rough couple of years for the defensive linemen to start his career. At first he wasn’t playing in the right scheme, and then some injury issues happened.

His rookie season showed a lot of promise. He tallied six sacks and two pass deflects while starting in every game that season. Where he really stood out was with his run defense, which was great. A lot of promise for a young player who was still growing.

Entering the 2013 season there was a lot of hope for Wolfe, but an injury derailed that in the preseason. During a preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, Wolfe suffered a bad injury, which effected him for the rest of the year.

It wasn’t just that injury, but an illness as Wolfe came down with a bad case of food poisoning and he dropped a lot of weight as a result. About a year later it was said Wolfe was playing 20-30 pounds, at least, under his normal play weight.  This had him playing at 260-270 pounds.

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During the season, Wolfe suffered seizures as a result of the injury in the preseason. He ended up missing five games that season, not including the playoffs. Before he got hurt, Wolfe showed more promise as a pass rusher netting four sacks in 11 games and he showed more great play against the run.

Then in the following 2014 season, Wolfe was still recovering and had his worst season of his career. Part of his recovery was adding the weight back to his frame, and doing it the correct way. He lost some muscle mass that needed to be added back. By the seasons end, Wolfe only picked up one and a half sacks.

At this point Broncos fans were ready to give up on Wolfe and thought he wouldn’t improve beyond what he was. A few fans saw the value Wolfe brought and tried to tell the others. When Wolfe got suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season, even more fans made up their minds to get rid of Wolfe.

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Hindsight it 20/20, but it is a good thing that Denver didn’t get rid of him. Instead, they signed him to a contract extension, that may be a steal by this seasons end.

In only 12 games during the 2015 regular season Wolfe picked up 5.5 sacks. Not only that but his pass rush looked much improved. Working with the new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and defensive line coach Bill Kollar was the best thing that could happen for Wolfe. They got him back on track.

Adding to the 5.5 sacks on the regular season, Wolfe picked up 2.5 more sacks in the playoffs. He was vital for the Broncos success in the playoffs and a big reason they won it all.

Now that is some amazing company for Wolfe to be in. 9.5 sacks in the last twelve games. Teammate Von Miller has 15 sacks over that time frame. Over the last twelves games that is some excellent company for Wolfe.

In two games this season, Wolfe has already picked up 1.5 sacks. He also has applied a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks and been excellent against the run, as he has been basically his whole career.

For a while now Wolfe has been a top five run defending defensive linemen in the NFL, and probably top 3 among 3-4 defensive ends. Since 2015, he has emerged as one of the best 3-4 defensive end pass rushers as well.

Next: Broncos Defensive Line Grades From Victory over Colts

If there was any doubt about it before, there shouldn’t be now. Derek Wolfe is emerging as a star in the NFL with each passing game.