ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** By selecting defensive end DeMarcus Walker in the second round, the Broncos showed their focus on bolstering their defensive line didn't end in free agency.
Walker, whose pass-rush proficiency led the nation in sacks over the past two seasons (11 sacks in 2015, 16 in 2016), should give the Broncos another threat to opposing linemen and quarterbacks, joining defensive ends Derek Wolfe, Zach Kerr, Jared Crick, Adam Gotsis and Bobby Richardson.
In 2016, injuries ravaged the Broncos' depth at defensive end, beginning with a season-ending ACL injury to veteran Vance Walker. An elbow injury to Derek Wolfe in Week 9 knocked him out of the Broncos' Week 10 contest against New Orleans and proceeded to bother him for the remainder of the season, ultimately keeping him out of the season finale vs. Oakland.
Walker should be able to come in and immediately use his array of moves to shed blocks and penetrate through offensive lines. That penchant is always a welcome addition on a Denver defense that hangs its hat on getting to the quarterback.
"I'm a relentless player with skills," Walker told Denver media on a conference call Friday night. "I'm all in wherever they want me to play. I'm going to go after the quarterback to win games."
Walker's resilience fits in well on a defensive line that bothers quarterbacks in ways even when they can't get a hand on him.
Walker is "[a]lways searching for new opening when original rush move is stymied," NFL.com's Lance Zierlein said. "When rush stalls, he spies quarterback and gets hand in alleys."
While his sack totals were the most noticeable numbers on his stat sheet, Walker also had 37 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and seven forced fumbles in the past two years.
But Walker is most proud of his pass-rushing. As the draft wore on, Walker tweeted "8 rushers got picked before me, PLEASE remember this!!"
Talking to Denver media, Walker explained his disgruntled note.
"Even if I would've came in as the first pass rusher, I would've always had a chip on my shoulder," he said. "I believe I am going to prove myself — maybe even more so right now, for sure."