Robert Ayers was drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL at number 18 by the Denver Broncos. Not only does he have the pressure of being a first round pick, he also has the pressure of being one of the first round picks we received for Jay Cutler.
Since that time he has amassed 6.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles along with 113 total tackles. That is not first round production. Compare his numbers to Clay Matthews who was drafted eight picks later: 42.5 sacks, 7 forced fumbles, and 204 total tackles. Ouch. To be fair Matthews was drafted as a linebacker and he continues that role today. Ayers was drafted as a defensive end, shifted to linebacker and then shifted again to defensive end.
Stats do not tell the whole story either. Last season, Ayers proved himself a worthy role player on an extremely dangerous Broncos’ defensive line. With guys like Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller running around, it makes sense that Ayers’ stats would not stand out. Ayers was able to showcase his football intelligence last season while improving his pass rushing skills and maintaining his solid run stopping skills. It is just a difficult thing to showcase with numbers.
Even with that knowledge this is a very important training camp for Ayers. With last season’s pass rushers dropping like flies (Elvis “What the Fax?” Dumervil and Von “Smoking a Super Bowl” Miller) Ayers has a shot at proving himself more than the rotational player he has become.
Some Broncos fans are starting to panic. Others are busy talking themselves in Shaun Philips and Robert Ayers becoming a poor man’s VonDoom (PhilAyers? Shaunbert? Throw your Shauns in the Ayer, ay-ayer? I got nothing). I do believe Shaunbert (I guess I’m going with that one) can handle the load to a point. I believe they can be serviceable and maybe make a few big plays. But honestly no one can match what we had in VonDoom. The good news is with our loaded offense we should be able to escape the first four games 2-2 at the least.
But wouldn’t it be great if Ayers didn’t accept being ‘serviceable’? This is a perfect time for Ayers to come into training camp and dominate. He could erase any negative stigma that has held him back through the years. Now that there is a possible 4 game suspension for the Broncos top chicken tender (he tends chickens, get it? Hey-oh!) I want to see Ayers let loose. I won’t be satisfied with him just showing up and putting a little pressure on. I want him to be the talk of training camp. Now is his time to prove why he was drafted in the first round. Now is his time to shake off all the doubt. No more excuses.