Broncos have formal interview with stellar run stuffer Fabien Lovett

Feb 28, 2024, 5:46 PM | Updated: 5:49 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — It came as no surprise that the Broncos would meet with Florida State edge rusher Jared Verse. Some mock drafts have pegged Verse to Denver with the No. 12 overall selection, and given the positional value of edge rusher, it would make some sense.

It isn’t the Broncos’ No. 1 need, but for a unit that was a part of one of the worst pass-rush win rates in the NFL, it is definitely an issue percolating below the surface.

But in some ways, the formal interview with fellow Florida State defender Fabien Lovett is more interesting.

Lovett was one of the dominant players during East-West Shrine Bowl practices in Frisco, Texas last month. While he flourished against the run for FSU last year, the Shrine Bowl practices unleashed a holy terror who destroyed a slew of handoffs before they had a chance to develop.

It was nearly impossible for the offense to get any functional run work in when Lovett lined up and attacked.

“I was kind of getting into the groove,” Lovett said. “I was just trying to get used to stepping forward and attacking more. At Florida State, I wouldn’t say that we don’t attack, but it was more of a lateral step and more of trying to mirror the guy.”

Lovett’s strength against the run makes him a potential Day 1 starter in a base defense. And given how the Broncos were pushed around up front last year too often, leading to a run defense that lingered near the bottom of most league metrics — even when removing the debacle in Miami from the calculus — he would represent an immediate upgrade for a unit that needs it.

But run stuffing isn’t considered a premium skill set. Pass rushing, on the other hand, is. And the perception of Lovett as a primarily a two-down run defender could leave him available as the draft lingers into the middle rounds.

It’s also one Lovett wants to change.


At Florida State, Lovett got pigeonholed this past season, working mostly on first and second downs.

“I didn’t really get the opportunity to play third downs this year. It was what it was,” Lovett explained Wednesday.

Without that film, Lovett knows he needs to show his quickness in other ways — which leads to his work in the defensive linemen’s workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium on Thursday.

What he wants to show is simple:

“That I can move. That I’m agile. That I can move for a big guy. That I’m not just a first- and second-down player,” he said.

That subject arose when he met with Broncos brass on Monday.

“They did talk to me about my pass rush,” Lovett said. “They basically said the same thing — it’s something I can improve on, something I can get better at.”

But the formal interview was a positive conversation, Lovett noted.

“I enjoyed it. I liked how they came off. I liked their energy. I think they liked me; I’m not really sure. But I enjoyed it,” Lovett said. “I liked them as a team. I liked how they presented and did everything. It was pretty smooth.”

They also tested him mentally, as well — which goes hand in hand for the Broncos’ desire to find smart football players. That led to the most challenging mental part of the interview.

“Probably just remembering an assignment on one of the things that they showed me, but for the most part, I still got it done. It just took me a little second to remember,” Lovett said.

To do that, he leaned on a practice he picked up at Florida State.

“I learned that at Florida State, just being there, taking notes and being able to remember things on the fly, because at Florida State, just like in the NFL, we put stuff in every day during spring ball, so it builds the habit of being able to remember things and make certain keys and notes,” Lovett said.

It served him well Monday. And he hopes his skills will serve him well in the NFL — perhaps with the Broncos, who could use a run stuffer like Lovett.

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