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Pump The Brakes: Adam Gotsis Still Has Everything To Prove To The Denver Broncos

Denver's second-year D-lineman Adam Gotsis has received some praise of late but perhaps we should pump the brakes on dubbing him the next Derek Wolfe.

Men have marveled at his 'trunk'. NFL defensive line coaches have salivated over his sheer size and potential. 

But potential doesn't equal production and such has been the case for second-year defensive end Adam Gotsis. Gotsis is coming off a disappointing rookie campaign in which he was asked to contribute to the Denver Broncos D-line rotation while still recovering from a torn ACL suffered on Halloween of his final season at Georgia Tech.

The Broncos selected Gotsis with the 63rd overall pick in the second round last year. It was a surprising decision by GM John Elway and it was due in no small part to D-line coach Bill Kollar, who pounded the table vociferously for Gotsis. Coming off a significant knee injury and still behind the 8-ball in building an NFL body and developing NFL strength, Gotsis struggled immensely as a rookie. He was consistently blown off the ball, struggled to anchor, and was often out of position in Wade Phillips' defense. 

Appearing in all 16 games (222 snaps), Gotsis tallied just 14 tackles (5 solo), a pass defensed and a fumble recovery. Heading into his first full offseason, Bill Kollar spoke publicly about the changes Gotsis would need to make in order to cut the mustard at the pro level. 

"Physically, I've told him all along: You've got to get bigger and stronger -- or else," Kollar said. "These guys are too big and strong and tough in this league.

"I told him, 'If I were you, I'd take one week off after the season, I'd get my [rear end] into the weight room and I'd lift until there was no tomorrow. Because otherwise you don't have a chance,'" Kollar said. "You've got to be able to get in there and fight.

"Right now, where he was physically -- he wasn't where he needed to be."

With all the expectations built into being a second round pick, the pressure is on Gotsis to perform. According to his fellow D-linemen, the changes Gotsis has made over the offseason could bear fruit in 2017. 

“He’s putting some weight on and getting stronger," Derek Wolfe said on Tuesday. "He just has to mature. He’s a young kid still. He just has to mature. As time goes on, he’s starting to get it more and more.”

There were a multitude of factors that could have led to Gotsis' struggles as a rookie. As a natural-born Australian, he's only been playing American football for a few short years. It's going to take time for him to fully assimilate the game. 

We also have to consider his knee. When the season kicked off last September, he wasn't even a full year out from his ACL tear. An injury of that magnitude not only takes time to recover from physically, but also mentally. 

According to the recently signed nose guard Domata Peko, however, Gotsis' knee problems are a thing of the past and he's already turned over a new leaf. 

“What I see from last year to this year, and just from hearing guys who have been in the locker room, Adam has been a lot better," Peko said. "If you see him right now, he’s a whole different player than last year. He’s healthy. He has that knee brace off. He’s moving around. He had the ACL that was lingering on, but now he’s strong. We call him ‘Little Wolfe.’ He’s a strong guy, a tough dude, and he works out. We’ll see what he can do for us this year.”

We've heard it from players publicly — Adam Gotsis paid heed to Bill Kollar's call and has worked hard this spring. But what else are they going to say? No veteran is going to throw a teammate under the bus when asked specifically about someone.

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Gotsis has been putting in the work in the weight room and if he can get his 6-foot-4 frame closer to 300 pounds and build that core, functional strength, it should pay dividends on the grid-iron. But we won't know until it happens. 

As encouraging as the words of Wolfe and Peko are, we can't get too ahead of ourselves. Adam Gotsis is still a young, extremely inexperienced player. The Broncos added yet another defensive lineman in the second round of the NFL Draft this year in DeMarcus Walker

Walker's selection is yet another challenge to Gotsis and a harsh reminder that the NFL is a production-based business. Nobody is here on scholarship. Players have to earn their keep. 

Some might say that if Gotsis fails to make an impact in year two, he won't be long for Denver's world. I disagree. Gotsis plays a position that traditionally can take time for young players to learn and the Broncos have little choice but to be patient with him. 

But as the highest-drafted Australian in NFL history, and a former Broncos second round pick, it would be a shame if Adam Gotsis failed to live up to his potential in the Orange and Blue. 

RELATED: Broncos Draft Rewind: Adam Gotsis 

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

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