ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **Vance Walker's opportunities for the Chiefs last year were scarce, and nearly half of the 238 snaps in which he played in 2014 came in back-to-back games against the Cardinals and Raiders in December.
It wasn't a coincidence that those were the 27-year-old's best games, in which he was stout against the run, notched a tackle for a loss and was in on three hits of opposing quarterbacks.
When he started for the Chiefs against the Raiders in Week 15, Walker opened in a five-technique alignment and then shifted inside as a three-technique on second and third downs of what became a three-and-out.
For the rest of the game, he continued to shift between three- and five-technique positions, often drawing double teams. On one play, he shifted outside and worked as a 7-technique when the Raiders shifted into a jumbo package with two tight ends overloading the right side in front of an I-formation. As was frequently the case in this game, he drew a double-team.
Games like that one -- in which Walker played 53 snaps -- demonstrate his versatility. That will serve him well in Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme, which sometimes functions like a 5-2.
"I can play any position -- really, whatever they want me to do, whether it's D-end, or nose, or a three-technigue," Walker said. "It's a penetrating type of defense, so, really, wherever they feel I fit -- I spoke with the coaches and they're pretty impressed that I can play all the positions, so it's wherever they believe I can fit."
Last year was Walker's first in a 3-4 alignment after working in the 4-3 with Atlanta (2009-12) and Oakland (2013).
"I thougth I did pretty well," Walker said. "It (Denver's scheme) is different from what Kansas City runs, and I think I did pretty well given the fact that I had never run that defense before.
"I graded out pretty well as far as my coaches were concerned."
Walker ranked 13th of 55 3-4 defensive ends league-wide (minimum 200 snaps) as a run defender according to ProFootballFocus.com, with a plus-6.8 rating in that area. It was a marked improvement for the 304-pounder -- and, in fairness, was aided by the presence of nose tackle Dontari Poe and edge rushers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali.
But Walker will have talented players around him in Denver, as well -- defensive ends Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson, with whom he is expected to rotate snaps, and edge rushers DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller.
And he'll have one of the game's best teachers watching over him -- the Broncos' new defensive line coach, Bill Kollar.
"He's very energetic. He knows his stuff," Walker said. "He's very knowledgeable about a lot of things. He watched a good bit of film on me and gave me some feedback. We talked a lot of football for a couple of hours."
And there will be plenty of similar conversations in the months ahead after Walker signed a two-year contract Thursday. Kollar demands toughness, versatility and football intelligence, attributes that Walker possesses, and should serve him well.
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.