Adam Gotsis Jersey

Semi-justifiably, the Broncos’ 2016 draft class will forever be graded poorly because of the failure of first-round draft pick Paxton Lynch.
But as the third pro season for the remainder of general manager John Elway’s selections winds down, the outlook is more positive. Defensive end Adam Gotsis (second round), safety Justin Simmons (third), center Connor McGovern (fifth), fullback Andy Janovich (sixth) and safety Will Parks (sixth) start or play major roles.

The league’s collective bargaining agreement allows a draft pick to sign a contract extension after their third year. As soon as Elway decides who his head coach is for 2019, Gotsis should be first up to get a new contract ahead of free agency.
Gotsis enters Monday night’s game in Oakland with 35 tackles and two sacks. Not eye-popping numbers, but he has flashed the kind of production that will make him valuable in this era of having a two-platoon defensive line.

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“It’s exciting knowing that (could) come in the future,” Gotsis said. “I feel like if I take care of what I have to on the field, the extension is going to be there when the time comes. Saying this or saying that won’t get it done for me. It’s just going out there and making plays.”

Gotsis has done just that during the Broncos’ second half. Statistically, he got off to a slow start this season.

First eight games: No sacks, one quarterback hit and one quarterback pressure. He had 5 1/2 run “stuffs” (gain of three or fewer yards).

But since the Week 9 Houston game, Gotsis’ production has increased significantly as the Broncos have climbed from last against the run after their sixth game (161.3 yards per game) to their current standing of 20th (120.2).

Last six games: Two sacks, two hits and a whopping 11 1/2 run “stuffs,” including 3 1/2 against Houston and 2 1/2 apiece against San Francisco and Cleveland. In 14 games, Gotsis has played 437 of 956 defensive snaps (45.7 percent).
Against the Browns, Gotsis made two huge plays. His sack (2.82 seconds) and forced fumble of quarterback Baker Mayfield was recovered by defensive end Derek Wolfe, ending a 9-minute, 11-second possession without any points. And, in the final two minutes, Gotsis knifed through the Browns’ offensive line for a fourth-down stop that gave the Broncos one final chance.

“The last month-and-a-half, he’s done a great job as far as rushing the passer, making plays in the run game and knocking (passes) down,” coach Vance Joseph said. “He’s got a bright future.”

Said Wolfe: “He’s made huge strides. He’s coming into his own and learning different techniques and picking up on different things.”

Gotsis and Wolfe play the same type of defensive end position, which has been a benefit for Gotsis.

“To see the way Derek has developed over the years and what he’s turned into, it’s definitely something I aspire to be,” Gotsis said. “He’s one of the best 3-4 defensive ends in the game.”
Wolfe played out his four-year rookie contract before signing a four-year, $36.7 million contract in January 2016, two months before he would hit free agency. It is tough to project a contract for a 3-4 end like Gotsis because there is currently a very small middle class — the big money guys are Aaron Donald, J.J. Watt, Jurrell Casey and Stephon Tuitt (all have deals of at least $60 million) and only seven other players with contracts from $20-$59 million.

Working in Gotsis’ favor is his durability. Because of the physical demands of the position, it makes sense to have Gotsis and Wolfe back next year and be complemented by Zach Kerr (unrestricted free agent) and Shelby Harris (restricted free agent). And maybe a new staff will find a way to salvage the career of 2017 second-round pick DeMarcus Walker.

Before concerning himself with the business side, Gotsis wants to continue his incremental progress.

“The goal of the game is to get better every week,” he said. “Even the very best guys like Von (Miller) know they can improve on something. It’s understanding that and trying to improve on the little things, whether it’s playing this block or rushing the passer, and hopefully in the game, you get the opportunity to be successful. The work never stops.”

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