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Monday, February 18, 2013
Is Denver's middle linebacker plan sound?

By Bill Williamson

The Denver Post had an interesting nugget Sunday when it mentioned that the Denver Broncos plan to fill one of their biggest needs in-house and not in free agency or in the draft.

The newspaper reported the team plans to allow third-year player Nate Irving and second-year player Steve Johnson to compete for the middle linebacker job. Joe Mays began last season as the starter and Keith Brooking took over early in the season. Brooking, a summer addition, played well and was a leader on the defense. But he is 37. Both Mays and Brooking are free agents.

Both Irving and Johnson are interesting players, but it is a bit of a risk relying on one of those two players as being a starter. It is a strong rookie class at middle linebacker and the Broncos could conceivably take a player at the position with the No. 28 overall pick.

In the end, I think Denver will at least consider adding another starting competitor at the position. I asked Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. what he thinks of the current plan. Like me, he is skeptical that it will come down to simply Irving versus Johnson.

“Denver’s middle linebacker is really just a two-down player,” Williamson said. ”Still, I also don’t believe them when they say they will stick with these two. Someone will be added at some point.”

But for now, it seems both Irving and Johnson will get a chance to impress the team.