Looking for pass rusher to go with Dumervil

DE Da'Quan Bowers (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Some might argue that the Broncos' season went astray the minute star pass rusher Elvis Dumervil tore a pectoral muscle in an early training camp practice last August.

Dumervil, coming off a NFL-leading 17 sack-season in '09, required surgery and ended his 2010 before it started.

Dumervil by all reports is back healthy and ready to resume his attack on quarterbacks, but he'll be doing it from another position. An outside linebacker in 2009, Dumervil moves back to right end, as the Broncos transition from a 3-4 to a 4-3 front. Dumervil, despite having his most productive sack numbers playing in space at linebacker, does have a history of success at defensive end as well, notching 8.5, 12.5 and five sacks in his three seasons at end. One issue during that time was Dumervil's lack of size, which helps with his leverage as a pass rusher, can be detrimental stopping the run, as he often gets washed into the pile once engaged with bigger tackles.

The Broncos have already announced that 2009 first-round pick Robert Ayers will be the starter opposite Dumervil and he still has much to prove. Ayers played physically against the run but was beset by injuries. The pass-rush skills he demonstrated at the University of Tennessee - with three sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss as a senior - haven't been much in evidence. This will be a big season to prove that he can be the complete player the Broncos envisioned him to be.

There is little depth behind that starting pair. So Denver has been doing its due diligence checking out Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers. Knee surgery, and an uneven pro day, have most mock experts predicting a fall later in the top 10 of the first round for the nation's sack leader with 15.5. The main issue is that Bowers' straight-line speed fell well below other timed defensive-end prospects. But the Broncos are looking at all options, one of which is a potential trade down from their No. 2 overall pick, and if they can use interest in the quarterbacks up high to their advantage and move down a handful of spots, they may not only be able to pluck a talent like Bowers but also an extra selection that's needed and coveted.

Bowers, should he check out medically, would give them, on paper, a fearsome rush from both sides out of Dumervil and this 6-4, 280-pound Julius Peppers clone. And make no mistake: as badly as Denver needs interior defensive line help, John Fox and Co. are looking for disruptive pass rushers that can help create turnovers.

The team finished dead-last in the NFL with just 23 sacks last season. It was tied for 30th with just 10 interceptions, a side effect stemming from the lack of consistent pressure.

Denver didn't attend Bowers' personal workout, but did have him to its Dove Valley headquarters in early April to have his knee checked, interview and test his knowledge on the chalkboard with coaches and front-office personnel.

Other blue-chip end considerations exist at end and perhaps one could slip to Round 2, where the Broncos have two picks: North Carolina's Robert Quinn; Missouri's Aldon Smith; Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan, Wisconsin's J.J. Watt and California's Cameron Jordan.



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