The Denver Broncos Really Need Rookie DE Adam Gotsis To Step Up

With Derek Wolfe out for a few weeks, the onus is on the rookie Adam Gotsis to step up.

You can look at the Derek Wolfe situation one of two ways. One, the timing could have been worse. Wolfe is expected to miss 2-4 weeks with a fractured elbow. One of those weeks will come during the Denver Broncos Week 11 bye. That's the glass half full. 

The glass half empty is the fact that the Broncos have struggled to stop the run with Wolfe — their best run defender — in the lineup, which doesn't bode well for how they'll perform without him. 

In Wolfe's absence, veteran defensive end Billy Winn will likely be tapped to start opposite of Jared Crick. But the player on whom the onus falls the hardest is rookie Adam Gotsis.

Drafted in the second round out of Georgia Tech, Gotsis has struggled to make an impact as part of Denver's D-line rotation. Learning to play the 5-tech defensive end position, combined with acclimating to the speed and physicality of the NFL game, offers up one of the steepest learning curves for modern rookies. 

“It’s just finding my spot in the defense," Gotsis said Wednesday. "It’s just getting in the rotation and helping the guys out. It’s understanding the game a little bit more and what teams are trying to do scheme-wise. I think that’s a big thing."

Gotsis has been nurtured by position coach Bill Kollar. But it's been nine games. More than half a season. 

The Broncos are in need and it's time to take the training wheels off. As a draft prospect, Gotsis was touted for his size, strength and physicality.

He hasn't played American football for a terribly long time but his coaches at Georgia Tech all vouched that he was a quick study. John Elway and the Broncos bought in on Gotsis big time, swooping him up in round two, when he probably would have been there in the third and maybe the fourth.

Second rounders are expected to be four-year starters — at minimum. It's time to see that potential in action. For what it's worth, Gotsis believes he has improved since the start of the season. 

“Just with everything, I think," Gotsis said. "Just being out there with all these guys in the NFL, you see game one and you say, ‘Damn, these guys are really big.’ Now, you’re used to seeing these guys every week, big 6’5, 6’7 offensive tackles and guys that are 350 [pounds] playing at guard. That’s probably the biggest thing. I’m just used to seeing the size now and the game is slowing down for me a bit up front. I can actually just play and not just be crazy thinking every snap and just play freely.”

For the Broncos to be successful in New Orleans this week, they're going to have to stop the run. Drew Brees and Sean Payton are experts at exploiting the opposition's weaknesses. 

Right now, that glaring weakness is run defense. Paging Adam Gotsis....

Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.

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