Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton has left town, and the Broncos are hungry to find a replacement for him at the defensive tackle position.

With the Broncos making the transition to a 3-4 defensive front following the addition of Wade Phillips as the defensive coordinator, look for whoever occupies the role of nose tackle to have a big impact. After all, Phillips helped mold J.J. Watt into the destructive force he is today.

So, who will plug the hole and claim the role of the Denver Broncos nose tackle?

Marvin Austin Jr. is a big boy. The 6-foot-2, 312 pound nose tackle is entering his fifth NFL season at 26-years-old. Austin has the physical tools to be a dominant man in the middle. He has the size, strength,and speed necessary. For Austin, the main concern is his health.

Austin suffered a torn pectoral muscle his rookie season, and has battled numerous injuries in his short career. He completed last season without injury, and proved to be a nice rotational piece as a back-up defensive linemen. If Austin can stay healthy, he could slot in nicely as the starting nose tackle in Phillips’ defense.

The Broncos drafted Sylvester “Sly” Williams out of the University of Missouri with the 28th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and have tried for two years to get him to meet that potential. Heis strong and extremely agile for his size, but has been unable to put it all together so far.

“I want to be on the field more.” Williams said via the Denver Post. “I want to be a guy this team relies on to win games. I want to be a guy like Terrance was.”

Williams played 13 games and recorded two sacks as rookie in 2013. Last season, Williams played in all 16 games, but had a limited impact – partially because Knighton played at such a high level, which may have stunted Williams’ development.

This season, Williams is ready to live up to his first round expectations, but understands the amount of work that needs to be done to fully tap in to his potential.

“My goal coming into the offseason was to be the guy at nose.” WIlliams said. “I understand that I have an opportunity to lead the middle of the defense. I have shown the coaches they can believe in me. But I have a long way to go.”

The Broncos drafted Darius Kilgo in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Kilgo, out of the University of Maryland, fits the mold of a nose tackle in Wade Phillip’s defense.

Kilgo is thick and athletic, but as a sixth round pick, will likely be buried behind Williams and Austin on the depth chart. It will be hard for him to earn significant playing time, yet alone the starting spot.

Chuka Ndulue went undrafted in the 2015 NFL Draft, and signed with the Broncos in the aftermath. Ndulue has great size, standing at 6-foot-3, 282 pounds, and is the Bronco that most closely resembles J.J. Watt in terms of body type.

The Broncos have had an undrafted player make the Week 1 roster for 11 seasons in a row. Ndulue has a chance to extend that streak to 12 and make a big impact for the Broncos at a position of need.

So, who should be the Broncos starting nose tackle?


Bryce Rudnick, a Mile High Sports intern and CU-Boulder student, contributed to this report