Round 2, No. 36: DL Derek Wolfe, Cincinnati

Derek Wolfe

Cincinnati DL Derek Wolfe.

Derek Wolfe was told to expect to be taken in the late first or second round, so his draft slot wasn’t a surprise to him.

But the destination?

“It was kind of a shock they picked me,” the 6-foot-5, 300-pounder said shortly after receiving the call from the Broncos late Friday afternoon confirming his selection as the No. 36 selection.

“There wasn’t a lot of contact (from the Broncos) like there was from the other teams.”

Athleticism is his forte, and Wolfe fared reasonably well in his Scouting Combine drills relative to other defensive tackles: his 40-yard dash time of 5.01 seconds was 10th, his 33 bench-press repetitions were eighth; his 33.5-inch vertical jump was fifth; his short-shuttle time of 4.44 seconds was sixth.

But his game-time performance — 9.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for losses in a stellar senior season for the University of Cincinnati — offers evidence that he isn’t a workout wonder.

There is little question that Wolfe can upgrade the interior pass rush. Last year’s first-teamers, Marcus Thomas and Brodrick Bunkley, combined for no sacks.

Wolfe projects as a three- or five-technique, so he does not solve the Broncos’ issues on the nose. But his presence could mean that Robert Ayers, who moved inside on pass-rush downs, might not have a role in nickel and dime packages, since Wolfe doesn’t have the size to line up at nose tackle on a regular basis.

Ironically, Ayers was among the first Broncos to tweet congratulations to Wolfe after the pick was made.

Wolfe maintains that it doesn’t matter where he plays up front.

“Honestly, it’s all the same to me,” he said. “Wherever they need me to be is where I’ll be the best.”

If there is a critique to be made of Wolfe, it is not of him, but when the selection was made. Although Wolfe’s stock had risen, it seemed possible that he would be available at the No. 57 position — the Broncos’ original second-round slot.

But the Broncos are better today at a crucial spot than they were yesterday.

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About Andrew Mason

Andrew Mason has covered the NFL since 1999, when he worked as an editor on NFL.com when the site was managed by ESPN.com. He worked six seasons (2002-07) covering the Broncos on their official website and two (2008-09) on the Panthers' site. He began MaxDenver.com in 2010 and now contributes to CBSSports.com, The Sporting News and The New York Times.
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