04/30/2012 - A closer look at the Broncos' picks: Round 2/36 -- Derek Wolfe, DT, 6-2, 300, Cincinnati...The Broncos got little pass-rush punch from their defensive tackles last year, and they're counting on Wolfe to change that. Wolfe had 9.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for losses last year, and might start immediately. - The Sports Xchange
A three-year starter, Wolfe was considered a three-star offensive tackle recruit, but moved to the defensive side of the ball shortly after committing to Cincinnati.
He saw playing time as a reserve defensive tackle in 2008 as a true freshman, recording three tackles, one tackle for loss and one sack. Wolfe moved into the starting lineup in 2009 as a sophomore (13 starts), finishing with 41 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks and one forced fumble.
He started all 12 contests in 2010 as a junior, recording 48 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks and one pass breakup. Wolfe had his most productive season in 2011 as a senior (13 starts), finishing with 70 tackles, a conference-best 21.5 tackles for loss, team-high 9.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and a pass breakup, becoming the first Bearcat to earn Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Just like when he came out of high school, Wolfe seems to be flying under the radar after one of the most productive senior seasons in 2011, leading all defensive tackles at the FBS level with 21.5 tackles for loss. He is quick off the ball and is the spark plug of the defense, but doesn't have explosive movements, with most of his impact in college coming on hustle plays.
Wolfe never quits and keeps fighting through the whistle with an overachieving mentality, but his lack of lower-body strength and inability to take on double-teams will limit his pro potential - a solid mid-round player who is at his best when isolated in one-on-one situations.
Strengths: Has a tall, solid frame with adequate length and has done a nice job losing the bad weight and firming his body. Has a quick first step with fluid movements off the ball. A natural bender, staying low and using leverage to force his way into the backfield. Highly competitive and fierce, showing relentless effort to the pocket with a nonstop motor. Has very good awareness, keeping his head on a swivel with a good feel to quickly locate and react to the play. Tough as nails with a physical attitude and often attracts double-teams. An extremely hard worker in the weight room and doesn't let up in practice. Versatile in college, lining up in several different spots, including moving to nose tackle over the center on third downs. Stayed durable over his career, starting the final 38 games of his collegiate career. Was productive at Cincinnati, especially as a senior when he led the conference in tackles for loss (21.5) and had career-highs in tackles (70) and sacks (9.5).
Negatives: Only average lower-body strength and struggles to anchor at the point of attack. Bit of a defensive end/defensive tackle 'tweener who struggles in traffic with multiple blockers, not always using his limbs effectively to disengage. Will allow his body to get too upright at times and needs to consistently keep his pad level down to be effective. Not a quick-twitch player and struggles to quickly change directions with some body stiffness. Has streaky hand placement and usage, abandoning his technique. Lacks a natural position and there will be some concerns as to where he will fit best at the next level.
NFL Comparison: Kevin Vickerson, Denver Broncos
-- Dane Brugler