Did the Broncos get the best run defender in the NFL by adding Malcolm Roach?

Mar 12, 2024, 11:38 AM | Updated: 11:48 am

Malcolm Roach fills a specific and urgent need for the Broncos.

It bubbles under the surface; after all, quarterback is the thing. But right behind the need to find a franchise quarterback is the dire necessity of rebuilding a run defense that was shambolic for long stretches last year. Denver ranked 30th in run defense, 32nd in average per carry allowed and 26th in first-down rate.

For $8 million over two years as first reported by NFL Network, Roach provides a valuable upgrade in that specific aspect. The interior defensive lineman isn’t a plus player in the pass rush, but that’s not his primary role. It will be to provide interior push and occupy multiple interior offensive linemen, freeing up others to make plays that they couldn’t make as often last year with one-on-one blocks too often taking care of the linemen.

Roach ranked 13th among 142 defensive-inerior players in run defense grade last year, according to Pro Football Focus.

And in run-stop percentage, Roach led the league.

He had 23 stops — plays that represented failures for the opposing offense — last year in 139 run-defense snaps.

That stop percentage was No. 1 in the NFL.


Of course, this means the migration from the Gulf South to the Front Range continues apace. Some of the erstwhile New Orleans players brought in over the past year are hitting the market, particularly wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey and tight end Adam Trautman. But the Broncos brought back one of the ex-black-and-gold brigade Tuesday, agreeing to terms with fullback Michael Burton.

Roach played two seasons for the Saints under Sean Payton. He made the team in 2020 as an undrafted rookie. But last year was his best season — especially in the area where the Broncos need desperate assistance.

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Did the Broncos get the best run defender in the NFL by adding Malcolm Roach?