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'It's how I was designed': DE John Franklin-Myers eager to bring relentless effort, physicality to Broncos

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The physicality will soon increase.

The Broncos will begin training camp in just a few weeks, and the pads will come on. The players in the trenches, who honed their technique and understanding of the scheme during offseason workouts, will get the chance to demonstrate the traits upon which their positions are judged.

And that's when John Franklin-Myers is at his best.

As the Broncos evaluated Franklin-Myers before acquiring him via a draft-day trade with the Jets, Head Coach Sean Payton and General Manager George Paton saw consistent production and physicality.

"He is a player that we have always respected," Paton said after trading for Franklin-Myers. "He is durable. For three straight years he has [essentially] not missed a game, and four straight years of 54-plus pressures. He can play all down the line of scrimmage. The one thing that sticks out on tape is the relentless motor this guy plays with. We are excited to get him. ... He is going to help our defensive line."

Added Payton in early June: "Each year, consistently you saw the numbers, the numbers, the numbers. It was kind of like you couldn't even imagine how close they were. Now, it came through power rush, bull rush or took an edge. … I would say when you grade or look at his pressure statistics over the last four years or five years, it's pretty interesting. They're very consistent across the board."

The ability to power through an offensive lineman, though, is not one that can be displayed during the offseason program.

"It's harder for him now to show you those things when we're not in pads," Payton said on June 4. "So, now, it's alignment, it's the scheme. 'Where am I at and how am I fitting?' I think we'll see a lot more of that [physicality] when we're in pads. You can't bull rush a guy out here; it's kind of hard to do. He's a powerful player."

Franklin-Myers said it's simple to identify what allowed him to find consistency with the Jets, for whom he tallied 21 tackles for loss and 61 quarterback hits over four seasons.

"I play with an effort and a physicality that people just aren't willing to match," Franklin-Myers said on June 4. "It's just how I am. It's how I was designed."

The Jets' offseason trade for Haason Reddick, though, led Franklin-Myers to a new opportunity in Denver. Franklin-Myers was granted permission to seek a trade, and he said the opportunity to play for Payton and Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph was enticing.

"I played in a 4-3 for four years, so it was a little different, just because you don't know how somebody's going to play you," Franklin-Myers said of his new role in Denver. "Once I talked to [Joseph] and understood what the assignment was, then I'm on board and I'm locked in. A chance to grow as a person and as a football player and as a teammate? Shoot, I can't pass that up."

In his early days with the Broncos, Franklin-Myers said a key focus was to learn more about his new teammates — and how they can work together to find success.

"You go to a new team, and you understand that it's not just football" Franklin-Myers said. "It's everything else outside of that: learning the defense, understanding where to take my shots, understanding how to help my teammates be better and how they can help me be better. Understanding is the challenge, and showing up is the first step. Here I am getting a chance to work with these guys each and every day, and [I'm] looking forward to just continue to get better with these guys and learn each other and to understand strengths and weaknesses and just grow off of that and continue to push the offense and ultimately win some games when it's time."

Franklin-Myers is just one of the several offseason additions Denver made to its defensive line, as the Broncos also signed Malcolm Roach and Angelo Blackson in free agency to fortify their front.

In Roach, the Broncos found a four-year veteran who had the league's best run-stop rate among interior defensive linemen in 2023, according to Pro Football Focus. Blackson, meanwhile, is a 10th-year player with 42 starts and 128 appearances in his career.

The trio of players should join returning starters Zach Allen and D.J. Jones in helping to improve a rushing defense that allowed the third most rushing yards and the most yards per carry in 2023.

Joseph, though, said improvement in that space will take more than just improved defensive line play.

"Last year with the rush defense, it wasn't every game, it was just spotty," Joseph said on June 12. "I think having those two guys inside to hold a point for us and to change the [line of scrimmage], that's important. With our run defense, both [Franklin-Myers and Roach] have a history of doing that. So that should help us tremendously. Tackling was our issue with run defense. So improving our tackling, that's also going to help us. We gave up some big runs, and it wasn't because of gap fits, it was missed tackles, so improving our tackling should help that."

With his new opportunity in Denver, Franklin-Myers will look to join his teammates on the defensive side of the ball to help the Broncos return to the expected standard of success.

"It's not so much about the money," Franklin-Myers said. "It's not about the fame or anything like that. It's about getting the chance to win and getting the chance to get a great opportunity to play football and to make a stamp. The Broncos have a great history of winning, and I just look forward to continuing that."

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