INDIANAPOLIS – Elvis Dumervil is not only in the picture of the Broncos’ 4-3 defense, but John Fox believes he can be an every-down defensive end — the position he played during the first three seasons of his career under previous coordinators Larry Coyer, Jim Bates and Bob Slowik.
“I see him as a defensive end,” Fox said. “He’s done it before.”
Dumervil had a career-high 17 sacks as an outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense in 2009 before missing last season because of a torn pectoral muscle.
“He’s healthy,” Fox said.
Fox also projects third-year veteran Robert Ayers as a defensive end in the 4-3 alignment. Ayers has primarily been an outside linebacker the last two years but did line up as a 3-4 end on a semi-regular basis, particularly on pass-rush downs.
The Broncos’ new head coach said he saw Ayers as a defensive end when he evaluated him as part of the 2009 draft class.
“We have him penciled in as a defensive end. I think he was a little easier to evaluate as a defensive end coming out of college because that’s what he played,” Fox said. “I have the utmost confidence he’ll be a productive player for us this coming year.”
With Dumervil and Ayers appearing poised to be the Broncos’ two primary defensive ends, it would seem on the surface that a pure 4-3 end like Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers would no longer be a high-priority target with the No. 2 overall selection.
But given the early stage of evaluation at which Fox sits, it would be unwise to rule out any potential candidate.
“I haven’t seen enough (of Bowers) I really haven’t studied enough personally,” There are some people making those comparisons (to ex-Panthers defensive end and 2002 No. 2 pick Julius Peppers); I’m just not one of them yet because I haven’t looked at enough. I’ll have to claim ignorance on that.”
Elsewhere up front, nose tackle Jamal Williams might have a future in the Broncos’ 4-3 alignment after spending nearly a decade as a 3-4 nose tackle with the Chargers before joining the Broncos in 2010.
“It’s actually easier a little bit in the 4-3 because you’re a little bit more shaded,” Fox said. “If you can play 3-4 nose tackle, you can do anything.
“Sometimes it’s not all two-gap; that’s the difference,” Fox added. “You play some two-gap, but not as much as you do in the 3-4.”
Fellow veteran linemen Justin Bannan and Marcus Thomas have experience as 4-3 defensive tackles after lining up at the end slots and are expected to join Williams in the scrum for playing time on the inside.