Broncos defensive bios: Denver spent the offseason acquiring reinforcements for 2020-21 – The Denver Post

The Broncos’ defense finished last year among the top 12 in fewest yards (12th, 337.0), passing yards (11th, 225.6) and points (10th, 19.8) allowed and red zone touchdown rate (first, 39.1%). No matter. General manager John Elway and coach Vic Fangio spent the offseason acquiring reinforcements. Cornerback A.J. Bouye was acquired from Jacksonville to replace Chris Harris. Jurrell Casey was acquired from Tennessee to replace Derek Wolfe. And cornerback Michael Ojemudia was drafted in the third round to replace a rotating cast of fill-ins who were ineffective. The priority: Creating more pressure on the quarterback (their 40 sacks were tied for 17th) and more takeaways (17, tied for 25th).

Defensive end

Jurrell Casey (99)
6-foot-1, 305 pounds, 30, 10th year, USC

Tennessee was looking to shed cap space and the Broncos were happy to give up only a seventh-round pick for Casey, who has made five consecutive Pro Bowls. Casey has 493 tackles and 51 sacks in 139 regular-season games and will provide a run-stopping and pass-rushing presence.

Backup

Dre’Mont Jones (93)
6-foot-3, 281 pounds, 23, 2nd year, Ohio State

A third-round pick last year, Jones played 293 snaps in 14 games (no starts), totaling 14 tackles, 3 1/2 sacks and one interception. The key for Jones earning more playing time is showing he can defend the run better.

Nose tackle

Mike Purcell (98)
6-foot-3, 328 pounds, 29, 5th year, Wyoming

A feel-good, hometown story, Purcell became a starter in Week 5 last year and helped the Broncos’ run defense go from worst in the league to a final ranking of 16th. He played 418 snaps as a base-down player, making 48 tackles in 13 games.

Backup

McTelvin Agim (95)
6-foot-3, 309 pounds, 22, rookie, Arkansas

A third-round pick, Agim played 49 games for the Razorbacks, totaling 148 tackles, 14 1/2 sacks and six forced fumbles. Depending on who else the Broncos keep, Agim could be a backup nose tackle or regular game-day inactive.

Defensive end

Shelby Harris (96)
6-foot-2, 290 pounds, 29, 6th year, Illinois State

Harris remained with the Broncos via a one-year deal after the longer-term free-agent market didn’t develop. A nose tackle to start 2019, he moved to defensive end in Week 5 and set career highs in tackles (49), sacks (six) and pass break-ups (nine, which led all NFL defensive linemen).

Backup

DeMarcus Walker (57)
6-foot-4, 280 pounds, 25, 4th year, Florida State

Walker was a second-round pick in 2017 and is in the final year of his contract. He has appeared in only 23 games in three seasons with 33 tackles and six sacks. He did show a pass-rushing burst last year (four sacks).

Outside linebacker

Bradley Chubb (55)
6-foot-4, 275 pounds, 24, 3rd year, N.C. State

The Broncos’ best defensive player, Chubb was limited to four games last year because of a torn ACL. If he is back to full health, expect double-digit sacks and solid play against the run. Chubb’s return should also create better opportunities for Von Miller.

Backup

Malik Reed (59)
6-foot-2, 235 pounds, 24, 2nd year, Nevada

One of the best stories of the 2019 training camp, Reed made the team as an undrafted free agent and then became a starter for seven consecutive games when Bradley Chubb was injured. In 15 games (eight starts), Reed played 475 snaps and had 24 tackles and two sacks.

Inside linebacker

Josey Jewell (47)
6-foot-1, 236 pounds, 25, 3rd year, Iowa

A nine-game starter as a rookie in 2018 when Brandon Marshall (knee) was injured, Jewell began last year as a starter, but lost his spot due to a hamstring injury and Alexander Johnson’s emergence. Jewell will get the first shot to replace Todd Davis (released Sept. 4) to be a base-down starter.

Backup

Mark Barron (42)
6-foot-2, 230 pounds, 30, 9th year, Alabama

Signed late in training camp, Barron is expected to be be a sub-package coverage linebacker to begin the season. A former first-round pick by Tampa Bay as a safety, Barron converted to linebacker with the Rams and played last year for Pittsburgh.

Inside linebacker

Alexander Johnson (45)
6-foot-2, 255 pounds, 28, 3rd year, Tennessee

Johnson was a bright spot last year, going from no defensive snaps in Weeks 1-4 to being a 12-game starter and making 93 tackles (tied for second on Broncos). Johnson also had one interception and two forced fumbles. He wants to take on the role of covering tight ends, which would make him an every-down player.

Backups

Austin Calitro (53)
6-foot, 240 pounds, 26, 3rd year, Villanova

Cailtro was acquired in a Sept. 4 trade from Cincinnati for defensive lineman Christian Covington. A former undrafted free agent, Calitro has nine career starts at linebacker and has played 429 special teams snaps the last two years.

Joe Jones (43)
6-foot, 231, 26, 4th year, Northwestern

Jones was able to keep his roster spot by beating out Josh Watson. Jones has played 781 special teams snaps in his three years for the Broncos.

Outside linebacker

Jeremiah Attaochu (97)
6-foot-3, 252 pounds, 27, 7th year, Georgia Tech

Signed to provide depth following Bradley Chubb’s torn ACL, Attaochu re-started his career by making 17 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks in 12 games (five starts). Attaochu is reunited with outside linebackers coach John Pagano from their days with the Chargers.

Injured

Von Miller (58)
6-foot-3, 250 pounds, 31, 10th year, Texas A&M

The Broncos’ longest-tenured player, Miller put all of his offseason efforts toward proving he can be the Von of 2014-18 (12.6-sack average) and not last year (eight sacks). Then he suffered what may end up being a season-ending injury days before the season opener.

Cornerback

A.J. Bouye (21)
6-foot, 191 pounds, 29, 8th year, Central Florida

Acquired from Jacksonville for a fourth-round pick, Bouye replaces Chris Harris as the Broncos’ No. 1 cornerback. Bouye has 305 tackles, 14 interceptions and 66 pass break-ups in 93 regular-season games for Houston and Jacksonville. Broncos’ cornerbacks combined for one interception last year.

Backups

Davontae Harris (27)
5-foot-11, 200 pounds, 25, 3rd year, Illinois State

Acquired from Cincinnati after last year’s training camp, Harris started six games (27 tackles, three pass break-ups), but was back to reserve duty over the final five games. Harris has played in 19 career games

Duke Dawson (20)
5-foot-10, 198 pounds, 24, 3rd year, Florida

Acquired in a trade from New England late in last year’s preseason, Dawson had 19 tackles in 14 games for the Broncos. He got a shot to be the nickel back, but one penalty in five consecutive games sent him back to the sideline.

Cornerback

Bryce Callahan (29)
5-foot-9, 188 pounds, 28, 6th year, Rice

The only player coach Vic Fangio brought with him from Chicago, Callahan never got to the starting line last year, shut down when a screw in his foot broke and a second surgery was required. His health is critical because he’ll play outside in the base defense and in the slot on sub-package downs.

Backups

Michael Ojemudia (23)
6-foot-1, 200 pounds, 22, rookie, Iowa

A third-round pick, Ojemudia was slowed in training camp because of a quad injury, but once he’s healthy, he could be the No. 3 cornerback. An outside corner, Ojemudia had six interceptions in 51 college games.

Essang Bassey (34)
5-foot-10, 190 pounds, 22, rookie, Wake Forest

An undrafted free agent, Bassey started 28 of 52 games for the Demon Deacons, totaling 228 tackles and five interceptions. He rose up the depth chart and showed he could cover the slot receiver in camp practices.

Strong safety

Kareem Jackson (22)
5-foot-10, 183 pounds, 32, 11th year, Alabama

The Broncos’ most experienced player, Jackson had 71 tackles and two interceptions in 13 games last year. He should benefit from being a full-time safety for the second consecutive year. A veteran of 153 regular-season/playoff games (145 starts), Jackson is a respected on-field and locker room leader.

Backups

Trey Marshall (36)
6-foot, 207 pounds, 24, 2nd year, Florida State

An undrafted free agent who spent most of 2018 on the practice squad, Marshall had six special teams tackles last year and started the final two games at safety because of Kareem Jackson’s suspension. He made 16 tackles in wins over Detroit and Oakland.

Free safety

Justin Simmons (31)
6-foot-2, 202 pounds, 26, 5th year, Boston College

Simmons was named second-team All-Pro after leading the Broncos in defensive snaps (all 1,081) and interceptions (four). He will play this year under the franchise tag. In 58 games (48 starts), Simmons has 277 tackles and 11 interceptions.

Punter

Sam Martin (6)
6-foot-1, 211 pounds, 30, 8th year, Appalachian State

The Broncos’ fourth different Week 1 punter is as many years, Martin was signed after playing the first seven years of his career with Detroit. His home games go from inside at Ford Field to the altitude of Mile High. Martin has a career net average of 40.9 yards on 473 punts. He will also serve as a holder.

Long snapper

Jacob Bobenmoyer (46)
6-foot-2, 235 pounds, 23, rookie, Northern Colorado

Bobenmoyer got on the Broncos’ radar by participating in their 2019 rookie camp as a tryout player. He signed on March 11 to compete for the spot vacated by Casey Kreiter. Bobenmoyer grew up in Cheyenne, Wyo., and was a long snapper/linebacker at UNC.

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