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Broncos Draft Preview: Defensive tackle

The NFL Draft is less than a month away, which means it’s time to start thinking about who the Broncos will select in the process. Leading up to April 25, milehighsports.com will review Denver’s position of needs, providing some possible players that could hear their name called when the Broncos are on the clock.

First up… Defensive tackle.

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Jesse Williams
College: Alabama
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 323 lbs.

The Australian nose guard has always been a couple time zones ahead of his peers in work ethic. You see, two hours before his Crimson Tide teammates even showed up at the training facilities in muggy Tuscaloosa, Ala., the laid-back, tattoo-covered Williams was already drenched in sweat, pushing the midway point of his day-to-day lifting routine.

No, this isn’t the story of Rudy. And if you remember a couple months back, at least, before you changed the channel, Williams made a gory mess of Rudy’s beloved Notre Dame in the yawner of a national championship game.

Instead, here’s a player who could immediately improve the win-now Broncos’ defensive line.

Today, we’re on the bottom right side of the March calendar and the Broncos have not re-signed tackle Justin Bannan, who ranked last out of all defensive players in getting pressure on the offense’s backfield per ProFootballFocus.com.

If 6-foot-4, 323-pound Williams took his “spot” as a situational starter, the Broncos third-ranked run defense from a season ago could improve again in 2013 with inside pressure from this Twitter sensation, who bench pressed 600 pounds on camera last year.

In fact, in 26 games, including two national titles with Alabama, the Arizona-Western transfer anchored the nation’s top rushing defense that gave up less than 80 yards per games in a smash-mouth, run-first SEC.

Truth be told, though, from a 22-year-old behemoth nicknamed “Monster” at birth, everyone expects a certain amount of strength – that, or some sort of hideous mutation. So, it’s actually Williams’ unexpected quickness that has his stock on the rise.

“Everybody knew I was strong anyway. I mean, I bench a ton of pounds,” Williams told the AP at Alabama’s pro day. “I’m trying to show people how I move for my size.”

Williams put pens to paper when he ran the 40-yard dash in an unofficial time of 4.9 seconds a week-and-a-half ago. To put that in perspective, that’s only .022 seconds slower than highly-touted Wisconsin running back Montee Ball’s 40 time of 4.68.

And yet, some of Williams’ teammates weren’t shocked. They have been analyzing him for the past two years.

“Look at his legs,” Alabama defensive end Damion Square told NFLDraftScout.com’s Jeff Reynolds. “Next time you see him, take a picture of his legs. He has sticks supporting a body builder’s top. It works for him.”

And it could work for Jack Del Rio and the Broncos. The Broncos’ defensive scheme relies on pressure from the middle of the line, so linebacker Von Miller and defensive end extraordinaire TBD can get to the backfield from the edges.

It could be a perfect fit for all.

Come draft day, Williams will go late first round or early second round. So, the only chance the Broncos likely have at him is with their first pick at 28th overall.

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Kawann Short
College: Purdue
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 299 lbs.

Short is down to his middle school weight. The All-Big Ten selection slimmed down from his 320-pound stature for his senior year to become a more versatile lineman for the Boilermakers.

The tackle, who says he lost the weight for endurance reasons, did 25 minutes of continuous drills, ran the 40 in 5.05 seconds and lifted 225 pounds 29 times at his pro day earlier this week. Short, who was also the Senior Bowl’s MVP, told reporters at that event that his stock will rise once he clears up his noted downside.

“They say I tend to take plays off in a game and I fade away,” Short said. “I’m out here trying and putting forth an effort in everything I’m doing — from the 40s to the drills to the long jump. I want to show these guys that I have the mentality to work and I don’t quit. A couple of guys I spoke to said I looked good (on Monday) and the effort is there, but I just need to keep pushing myself.”

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Sylvester Williams
College: North Carolina
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 313 lbs.

Williams thought he was done with football after high school. No major collegiate offers came his way.

Then, after he worked at a factory for $12 per hour and attended community college for two years, Williams was offered a scholarship from North Carolina, where he became an All-American during the 25 games played in two seasons.

Soon, he’ll be a millionaire, as well.

Williams ran the 40 in 4.99 seconds, benched 225 pounds 27 times and reached 26.5 feet in the vertical jump.

The senior ranked above average in just about every area, per ESPN.

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Johnathan Jenkins
College: Georgia
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 346 lbs.

Jenkins was Georgia’s best player in the Bulldogs’ 32-28 loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.
The then-370-pound nose tackle had six tackles and kept constant pressure on quarterback A.J. McCarron all game long.

The beefy Jenkins models his game after Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork, who his known as a cement wall. But like Patriots’ Pro Bowler, Jenkins lacks any sort of quickness.

In his time at Georgia, Jenkins missed time due to a hamstring injury, heat exhaustion and academic ineligibility that cost him a chance to play in the Capital One Bowl against Nebraska.

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Brandon Williams
College: Missouri Southern State
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 341 lbs.

If the NCAA basketball tournament has shown us anything, it’s that sports at smaller schools have gems too. Williams is no different.

Even so, the thick, raw tackle’s projection has fallen to as low as the third round. With such a deep class in defensive tackles, Williams has the truck-load chip on his shoulder because of the level of talent he played in college.

He ran the 40 in 5.37 seconds and bench pressed 225 pounds 38 times.

He can push the pocket, but his technical skills will need work.

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Now, expect the Broncos to weed through thousands of pounds of talent to find one 300-pound difference maker early in the NFL Draft on April 25.


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