By Steve SerbyThe Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers are tied for the most games played in the NFL this season.
They have a combined total of 21 victories.
In a recent game, Denver’s offense was so good, they scored 21 points and gained a whopping 11 yards on San Francisco’s defense.
The Broncos, who have been on a run since the end of the 2015 season, are also the first team to score more than 300 points in each of the first three games of a season since the 1990s.
But while the Broncos have a great team and a young roster, some of the players they’ve drafted have not quite reached their potential.
A recent article in ESPN.com highlighted some of those players, with some surprising similarities.
One of those similarities was the way some of these young players were able to be successful without their typical offensive linemen.
While the Broncos offense has been built around two running backs, one of whom is the NFL’s top rookie running back in Emmanuel Sanders, it’s the running game that has been the most consistent.
The team’s offensive line has allowed only 13 sacks in the first six games, good for second in the league behind the Denver Broncos.
However, it has been one of the more inconsistent units of the year.
The running game has averaged just four yards per carry, tied for seventh best in the entire league.
On the ground, the Broncos rank 28th in rushing yards per game, behind only the Denver Chargers (33.8) and Green Bay Packers (32.7).
On the flip side, the team’s secondary has allowed just six touchdowns on the season, tied with the New England Patriots for ninth-fewest.
The secondary is currently second in total interceptions, but second in pass breakups, which ranks 13th in the game.
In fact, the secondary has been a huge reason the Broncos defense has been so good for so long.
When the Denver defense was healthy, it allowed just two touchdowns on 23 targets, tied the league lead at the time.
However over the past four games, the unit has allowed 11 touchdowns on 20 targets, just one shy of the Broncos mark of 16.5 touchdowns allowed per game.
The unit has been particularly stingy when it comes to interceptions, allowing just three touchdowns on 14 picks.
The reason why the Denver secondary has so struggled is because of some of its rookie defensive linemen.
The Denver Broncos had just four players selected in the 2016 NFL Draft who started their careers with the Broncos, the fewest in the AFC West.
These players are the players that have helped the Denver offense succeed so far.
While it’s true that a lot of the Denver defensive line is starting rookies, they still have a few players that are veterans.
Here’s a look at the top five rookie defensive players in the division.
The numbers on the player names are a projection of what they’ll be worth in free agency.
Darian Stewart – DE – Minnesota VikingsThe Minnesota Vikings are going through some changes in the front office.
Offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead has moved on from former coordinator Mike Zimmer.
His successor, Brian Griese, was the defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions last season.
So far, Grieses defense has not been good.
However he has had some success against the run, averaging 3.8 yards per rush on the ground.
He has also allowed only two sacks on the year, good enough for the third-highest total among defensive linemen in the conference.
Stewart is a versatile player who can play defensive end or end and he is a physical, tenacious player who has shown he can rush the passer as well as play a pass rush.
He had an excellent rookie season in 2016, when he totaled 1,865 total tackles with 12.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for a loss.
He will likely be looking for a new contract this offseason.
Darius Slay – DT – Los Angeles RamsThe Los Angeles Chargers are going to be looking to upgrade their defensive line, so it’s not a surprise that they will be bringing in a defensive tackle.
Darius Slay has played for several teams in his career, but the one that he will be joining is his former team, the Minnesota Vikings.
Slay has been with the Vikings since the 2012 season.
He was a seventh-round pick by the Vikings in 2013, and was a third-round selection by the Chargers in 2014.
Slay was traded to the Chargers from the Rams in 2019 and spent the next two seasons with them before the Chargers drafted Connor Barwin in the second round.
The Rams are expected to keep the defensive tackle position open in 2018.
Jared Goff has not had a full season as the starter, but he has played well in his first two starts.
He is a very athletic defensive tackle who can rush, as well.
He also has some strength.
Goff has shown that he is able to blitz and pressure quarterbacks