Last year, the Denver Broncos No. 1 defense featured two dominant, and frankly, underrated inside linebackers—Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan. Neither received a Pro Bowl election but both eclipsed the 100-tackle mark.
They were the unsung heroes of Denver's Super Bowl Champion defense.
Unfortunately, in today's NFL, it's next to impossible to keep Championship rosters in tact year after year. Danny Trevathan took a four-year, $24.5 million deal with the Chicago Bears, while Marshall signed a four-year $32 million contract to stay in the Mile High City.
Denver's fearsome ILB duo was torn asunder.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1688721-5-under-the-radar-players... Davis went undrafted out of Sacramento State in 2014 and signed with the New Orleans Saints, who waived him right as the regular season got underway. The Broncos signed Davis the next day.
Since then, Davis has started games for the Broncos, seeing a lot of snaps with the first team defense. Going into training camp this year, we knew Davis was the favorite to win the other starting ILB job, but apparently, if you ask Marshall, three days into camp, it's practically a foregone conclusion.
“Me and Todd have a natural chemistry so I'm excited," Marshall said Saturday following practice. "Todd is a hell of a player and everybody will see soon. He's taking a lot of first-team reps and he's doing a hell of a job so unless coach says otherwise, I think that's what it's going to be.”
Although Marshall got to hear his name called by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2012 NFL Draft, Davis slipped through all seven rounds. Marshall was waived three separate times by the Jaguars, facing his own obstacles and the unbelief of coaches—before catching on with the Broncos.
Through that process of starting from the bottom and working his way up, Marshall has a lot in common with Davis. Its a bond they share. Marshall also serves as an example of what can happen if a truly talented player refuses to give in and works harder than his peers.
“We've talked a lot in the past about my path and his path and what needs to be done," Marshall said. "Todd is hungry. If I had to describe him in one word, it's hunger. Todd's going to be a great player, I promise you.”
Davis' body of work, ever-growing, is starting to round itself out, instilling confidence in the coaches.
“It’s impressive," Gary Kubiak said after Sunday's practice. "I mentioned Todd today to the team after practice. I mentioned about five or six guys that are second, third, fourth, fifth year players that have big roles on this team. We know the opportunity he is getting. It’s fun to watch as a coach. He’s paid his dues, so to speak. He’s been a hell of a solider and special teams player. Now he is getting an opportunity to be a starter. That’s why you play. I think it’s exciting for me, [Linebackers Coach] Reggie [Herring] and [Defensive Coordinator] Wade [Phillips] to watch him become that type of player.”
Davis might know that as of today, he has a leg up over the competition. Corey Nelson—a former Elway seventh round pick—and Zaire Anderson are both pushing for reps with the ones. Davis knows he can't rest on his laurels.
“It feels tremendous," Davis said. "Last year, I was able to run with the ones a little bit because [OLB] Von Miller was injured. I feel at home. I feel like I am right where I need to be. I just need to keep progressing and working hard and we’ll be where we need to be as a team.”
For Denver to repeat as the league's top defense, they'll need another campaign of elite production from their inside linebackers. If Marshall's opinions can offer us any insight, the Broncos have that situation all wrapped up.
Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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