Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY Sports

Grading The Performances of the Denver Broncos Defensive Players In Game 1 Of The 2016 Preseason

The offensive grades are in the books, but now it is time for the group who won the game. Erick Trickel reveals his defensive player grades and an updated 53-man roster prediction.

In the only shutout victory of the first week of the preseason, the Denver Broncos defense dominated the Chicago Bears. The domination was from start to finish and came from each string that saw the field.

A big reason for the success of the unit was due to what happened in the trenches with the defensive line. That is where the grades start out.

Defensive End

1. Derek Wolfe: 90.1
2. Jared Crick: 98.9
3. Adam Gotsis: 81.9
4. Billy Winn 79.2
5. Vance Walker 68.9
6. Lars Koht: 71.8

The defensive line was a force against the Bears. They all played a really solid game from start to finish. Wolfe looked to be taking another step forward from where he was last year, and Walker looked comfortable as the starter.

Unfortunately, Walker tore his ACL in practice on Monday and will spend this season on IR. Had that not happened, he would be the starter opposite of Wolfe. Instead, Jared Crick and Adam Gotsis get a great opportunity, both of whom played extremely well, especially Crick.

Due to the injury to Walker, that opens the door for Winn to make the roster after a very solid performance against the Bears. Finally, Koht also played really well and is making a strong push for a practice squad spot. Wolfe, Crick, Gotsis and Winn are your four defensive ends to make the 53-man roster.

Nose Tackle

1. Sylvester Williams 91.7
2. Darius Kilgo: 77.3
3. Kyle Peko: 74.3
4. David Moala: 69.9
5. Calvin Heurtelou 72.1

Williams showed why he is the starter with an incredibly strong performance, in both aspects of the game. Behind him, Kilgo played really well, as he did a year ago in preseason and in the regular season when he had opportunities.

They are your two nose tackles to make the 53-man roster. Peko, Moala and Heurtelou all played well and moved all over the defensive line. Peko and Moala were the better of the three, but all three are in a close battle for practice squad spot.

Outside Linebacker

1. Von Miller: N/A
2. Shaquil Barrett: 98.9
3. Shane Ray: 59.1
4. DeMarcus Ware: N/A
5. Vontarrius Dora: 99.2
6. Eddie Yarbrough: 41.6
7. Sadat Sulleyman: 71.7
8. Dekoda Watson: 89.9

Miller and Ware did not play, but both will make the roster. Barrett and Ray started in their stead, and Barrett was near perfect. His defense against the run was fantastic, and he got solid pressure on the quarterback. He definately showed he should be the starter opposite of Miller.

As for Ray, his pass rush was solid, but he often broke contain against the run. Doing that opened up lanes back inside for a couple yards. Had defenders around him not stepped up, the defense would’ve been gashed for more yards than they were. Dora was a pleasant surprise and really made a case to make the roster. If he keeps playing like he did against the Bears, it will be impossible for the Broncos to get him onto the practice squad and keep him there, which forces them to keep him on their 53-man roster, bringing their total to five.

Yarbrough played a really rough game with some great moments and some head-scratchers. He was moved around and was tasked to put his hand in the dirt a few times, which is when he looked the worst. His get off was a a split second slower than with him standing up. Sulleyman and Watson both made a great case to be considered for a practice squad spot.

Inside Linebacker

1. Brandon Marshall: N/A
2. Todd Davis 79.8
3. Corey Nelson 43.9
4. Zaire Anderson: 79.1
5. Dwayne Norman 74.3
6. Frank Shannon 76.3
7. Kyle Kragen: 51.8
8. Darnell Sankey: 39.8

Davis played well as the starter and showed why the Broncos have faith in him. With his performance and a not-so-good showing from Nelson, Davis took a big step to cement himself as the starter.

Anderson also took a step forward and closed the gap on Nelson for the No. 3 linebacker. Those four make the roster with the rest fighting for a practice squad spot. Norman and Shannon separated themselves from the rest of the group, due to their having a good outing and the other two struggling some.


1. Aqib Talib: N/A
2. Chris Harris, Jr.: N/A
3. Bradley Roby: 79.9
4. Kayvon Webster: 68.9
5. Lorenzo Doss: 95.9
6. Taurean Nixon: N/A
7. John Tidwell: 17.2
8. B.J. Lowery: 19.4

Talib and Harris did not play, and both will make the roster. However, it sounds like Talib is facing a suspension, which would see him on the suspended list and not count against the 53-man roster..

Roby played extremely well with those two out, and would be the starter opposite Harris, if Talib gets suspended. Webster was up and down, but showed more promise on defense than he has since his rookie year.

Doss made a huge statement as he fights for the roster with the team's only interception. Ball-hawking has become a specialty of his, as he has five picks in the last eight days. Doss rounds out the five if Talib doesn’t end up suspended.

If he does, look for Nixon to claim that spot. Tidwell and Lowery both had horrendous games and will have to rebound if they wish to fight for that spot and even a practice squad spot.


1. T.J. Ward: 89.9
2. Darian Stewart: 88.6
3. Justin Simmons: 91.9
4. Will Parks: 97.3
5. Antonio Glover: 89.3
6. Shiloh Keo: 61.9
7. Brandian Ross: 71.2

Ward and Stewart are your starters and there is no doubt about that. Their play showed exactly why. As for the No. 3 safety, Simmons took a huge step forward to seal that up, as he was outstanding for a rookie in his first action.

Keo played the worst of the group and is suspended for the first two games of the season. So, if he isn’t cut, he starts off the season on the suspended list. That opens up the door for Parks and Glover to run away with the No. 4 and 5 spot.

On defense and special teams, Parks made a huge case for the roster and Glover wasn’t far behind. Ross played well, but was the second worst of the group behind only Keo. Ward, Stewart, Simmons, Parks and Glover are your five safeties with Keo on the suspended list.

Special Teams

P1. Riley Dixon: 68.9
P2: Britton Colquitt: 70.1
Brandon McManus: 30.1
LS Casey Kreiter: 100.0

McManus had some rough spots with his field goal attempts, but has no competition. Krieter was perfect with his snaps and has no competition.

Colquitt and Dixon continue to battle it out and it is a close one. Based on performance alone so far, the edge goes to Colquitt, but the money is playing a factor in this battle. Colquitt hasn’t been so much better than Dixon to justify such a higher cost. Unless that changes, look for Dixon to take the punting job.

RELATEDPreseason Game 1 Player Grades: Offense

Erick Trickel in an Analyst for MileHighHuddle. You can find him on Twitter @Trickel_MHH. And be sure to like MileHighHuddle on Facebook

Follow MileHighHuddle on Twitter @MileHighHuddle.

To get instant Broncos notifications, download the NEW Scout mobile app for iOS HERE! 


Mile High Huddle Top Stories