Denver Broncos | News

Versatility the key for Vance Walker and the D-line


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **If you want to play on Bill Kollar's defensive line, you can't do just one thing. That's why free-agent pickup Vance Walker might be an ideal fit for the rotation up front.

From Georgia Tech to Atlanta to Oakland to Kansas City, Walker has been a chameleon, remaking himself to fit the scheme and the role his coaches wanted him to play. That has allowed him to put six NFL seasons under his belt and ensured that he sat on the market just six days after the Chiefs released him in March.

Defensive linemen like Walker might not stay with one team -- just like they don't stay in one spot along the line. But they do have value. Walker began building up his reputation immediately after going from Georgia Tech to the nearby Falcons.

"I played more of a three-technique at Tech, and it wasn't until I got to the Falcons (in 2009) where they wanted me to play nose and put on some more weight," Walker said. "I did that, which wasn't a problem. I was really good at that.

"It was really when I went to the Raiders (in 2013) -- they needed help and I was a three-technique there, but they needed a four-technique defensive end. When they put me in there in practice, they realized that I might have been just as good as the starters if not better. They kind of stuck me there."

And defensive linemen of Walker's size with his versatility are rare.

"There are not a lot of guys that are 310 [pounds] and can move like a three-technique or an end," he said.

And that will help define his job description this year as a part of the Broncos' defensive-line rotation.

"I've always been able to play multiple positions, so I think it will be along those lines," Walker said. "I can pass rush as well. Really whatever I can do to help the team. They haven't really divulged too much of that. It's just more of, 'We need you to do this and we need you to do that,' and that's perfectly fine."

And that could include some work at nose tackle. Sylvester Williams appears the most likely candidate to start at nose tackle; at 320 pounds and he could succeed in Wade Phillips' defense if he can show the same kind of consistent pass rush skills that propelled him into the first round of the 2013 draft.

Williams noted May 7 that the coaches were "kind of moving us all around right now and seeing where we all fit in."

Take a look through the career of new Broncos defensive lineman Vance Walker, from beginning on the Falcons to his years on the Raiders and Chiefs.

"It's huge," Walker said. "The biggest thing is if someone goes down or just you personally wanting to play more, if you can help the team, I think it's huge. You've got guys now in the league that there defensive ends are coming in inside and vice versa. Offense aren't used to that. They're not used to seeing bigger guys at ends and vice versa. The guards can't handle the speed. I think a lot of it works in our favor."

But of the various positions and tasks required, one item stands out: rush the passer.

"The nose [tackle] can play three-technique or end. It pretty much has a lot of versatility in this system. The biggest thing is really getting after the quarterback," Walker said. "That's something that I like to do. I'm just looking forward to it."

Walker didn't have many opportunities to rush the passer in Kansas City last year, but that appears set to change.

"The system that we've got now may be better suited for me and the other guys that are on the team," he said.

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