When looking at the 2012 NFL draft for the Broncos, many people choose to criticize the second round selection of Brock Osweiler. However, it may finally be the Broncos’ first selection that should take the most heat. Friday’s suspension of Derek Wolfe solidifies his bust status and now leaves the defensive line with huge question marks.

With their first pick in that draft the Broncos were looking to add a starter to their defense. They decided to trade back into the second round because they felt that Wolfe would still be available, and they could add another pick later in the draft in the process. Wolfe was still there, and they got their man with the 36th overall pick.

While its easy to play the “woulda-shoulda-coulda” game, there were some other defensive standouts that the Broncos passed up for Wolfe. Most notably were linebackers Bobby Wagner who went to Seattle at No. 47 and Lavante David who went to Tampa Bay at No. 58.

Denver originally held the No. 25 overall pick in 2012, trading it to New England for Nos. 31 and 126 that same year. Denver then traded those picks to the Buccaneers for Nos. 36 and 101, also in 2012.

With No. 25, the Patriots selected Dont’a Hightower. In his three years in the league, Hightower, a linebacker, has played in 42 games (compared to Wolfe’s 43) and amassed 246 combined tackles (versus Wolfe’s 91).

Wolfe had a decent rookie campaign with the Broncos, recording six sacks as mostly a rotational player on the defensive line. He was expected to make a leap in year two, but a scary spinal injury occurred in a preseason game against the Seahawks.

Returning to health for 2014, Wolfe again yielded some big expectations. However, he was only able to rack up 1.5 sacks playing in all 16 games. While sacks aren’t the only measurable statistic, especially playing alongside Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, Wolfe’s other stats were also subpar. He was only able to account for 24 tackles, less than two per game for a player who was the first to the ball against the run.

To make matters worse for Wolfe, Malik Jackson has been making a name for himself over the last two seasons playing the same position. Jackson was drafted 101 picks after Wolfe in 2012.

Now that it is official that Wolfe will miss the first four games of 2015, the Broncos are left very thin on their defensive front. Jackson, Vance Walker and Sly Williams are now expected to be starters with very little depth behind them.

Injuries are unavoidable, especially ones as random as the one Wolfe suffered in 2013. However, after three seasons in the NFL, he has yet to prove that he was worth being the Broncos first pick in 2012. If Jackson continues to grow in Wolfe’s absence, he may never regain his starting spot.

Wolfe is entering the final year of his rookie contract. He will now only have 12 games to prove his worth. Given his declining trajectory, it may be too little, too late.