- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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While the NFL world obsesses over when Peyton Manning will absorb his first hit as a Denver Bronco, one of his young defensive teammates is turning heads.
Denver's second-round pick, defensive lineman Derek Wolfe, opened eyes with a two-sack performance in Denver’s preseason win at Chicago last week. Wolfe’s performance followed up a strong training camp.
He has shown great speed, instincts and desire. It looks like he has an opportunity to make an instant impact on a defensive front that needs big help. Wolfe can play both end and tackle.
His coaches are thrilled with what they see.
“He’s obviously a very good football player,” Denver coach John Fox said. “That’s why we selected him where we did. I like his progress so far in this camp with us. He’s a fabulous young man, brings a lot of toughness. The way he prepares is contagious. He’s a big, physical body, and he’s got a great skill set at rushing the passer. We’ll primarily use him on sub-downs or extra-receiver downs inside, so he’s got a lot of flexibility.”
Added defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio: “He’s doing a nice job. Things I talked about when he first got here [include] strong work ethic, good motor. He’s got some pass-rush inside, which we talked about. It showed up a little bit in the first preseason game right away. I just like his demeanor. There’s not a lot outside of being a good football player that you see. Nothing is on his mind more than coming in here and helping his team win. I really like the way he’s approached the beginning to his career, coming in here with the right approach. So many young guys will come in and be distracted by a lot of other things. He’s just not been that kind of kid.”
The Broncos were criticized for not trading up to get a top-caliber defensive lineman, instead trading down from No. 25 to No. 36 to take Wolfe. It’s early, but as of now, it seems like it was a smart move.
5dEric D. Williams