ENGLEWOOD, Colo—The Denver Broncos kicked off Phase Two of their offseason training program on Monday and today, following team activities, defensive end Derek Wolfe met with the media. Drafted in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Wolfe is entering a contract year and is looking forward to playing in the position that fits him best—5-tech defensive end.
Today, he talked about why he believes the 3-4 defense fits him better as a defensive end.
“I think the length and the size combination,” he said. “I’m not really a speed rusher. I’m not really a big 330-pound defensive tackle either. I’m kind of tweener, and that’s really what you need at the 3-4.”
When asked if whether he’s the “perfect fit” for the 5-tech defensive end position, Wolfe was grateful that someone else broached the subject, not him.
“You said it,” he said (laughing). “It’s not coming out of my mouth.”
When Wolfe was coming out of Cincinnati in 2012, many believed that the 6-foot-5, 290-pound defensive lineman would be drafted by a team who deployed the 3-4 defense, including him. Most of the teams who showed interest in him ran that scheme. But the team who drafted him, the Broncos, did not.
“Really, that’s where I thought I was going to end up—with a 3-4 team,” he said. “It is nice to be in my natural position.”
At the end of the day, Wolfe has produced for the Broncos, albeit in ways that don’t always flash on the stat sheet. Often, he’s the guy that creates the pressure on the quarterback that flushes him out and into the waiting arms of guys like Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware.
Wolfe’s contribution in the pass rush is revealed in his 63 career hurries and 17 QB hits, according to Pro Football Focus. Nevertheless, he has notched 11.5 sacks of his own in his three-year career. Whether it’s a 3-4 or a 4-3, he sees opportunities to make an impact on the grid-iron.
“I think there are a lot of opportunities to make plays,” he said. “Whatever they need me to do, I’ll do it.”
One of Derek Wolfe's best attributes is his motor. He doesn't turn it off 'til the whistle blows. And he's willing to do the dirty work, like setting the edge in the run game. He graded out as the No. 2 4-3 defensive end against the run in 2014, earning a +14.4 grade via PFF.
Wolfe’s blue-collar work ethic has earned him the admiration of his teammates and coaches. Now, he is learning from a new position coach—Bill Kollar—who might be the perfect teacher and motivator for Wolfe’s skill-set.
"A couple of different guys around the league had mentioned him to me, saying that he was the perfect coach for me and we would work out together,” Wolfe said. “I’m pretty excited about having him here.”
Wolfe and his teammates have now had the opportunity to be on the field with their new coaches. Last week, they had a mini-camp wherein they were able to do walk-throughs and defensive installs. He now has a taste of what it’s like working under Kollar. His initial impression of the coach who once wrestled a bear?
“He’s got a lot of fire. He gets after guys. He keeps you going and he makes you hustle. I love a guy like that. He’s a great guy.”
Stories On Broncos Draft
Wolfe’s contributions to the Broncos defense over the last three years has been great. The time has blown by. He has ingratiated himself with his organization and the fans. He’s in a contract year and coincidentally, he’s teamed up with the coach who helped shape J.J. Watt into the Defensive Player of the Year (twice). Wolfe is excited about the opportunity. But when it’s all said and done, he just wants to win.
"Everything is like that (snaps),” he said, in regard to how fast time flies. “The first two years go by real slow, and then the last two years fly. College was like that. When you’re winning games and you’re having fun—I’m not really thinking about a contract or anything. My main goal is winning a Super Bowl. That’s all I care about right now. If we win a Super Bowl, everybody gets paid. That’s our goal right now as a team.”
It’s that mentality that makes Derek Wolfe what he is—a passionate leader and jack-of-all-trades grinder. He understands that if the Broncos can win the Super Bowl, it’ll have a trickle-down effect on every player and especially benefit the guys set to hit free agency. Would that every NFL player had the same philosophy.
As for the results of the Ted Wells report on the New England Patriots and "DeflateGate", Wofle takes the longview and doesn't see the point in crying over spilt milk.
“I don’t care," he said. "I can’t change it. If I say something, it’s not going to change the outcome of the Super Bowl that just happened, right? It doesn’t really matter. Are they going to take it away from them? That’s not going to affect me at all. That’s not going to put any more money in my pockets. It’s not going to give me a ring. I’m more worried about our team going to win a ring.”
Derek Wolfe could be on the brink of a breakout season. The stars are aligning for him in the nick of time—or more aptly—in the nick of a contract year.