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Film Room: Examining Whether Rookie OLB Andre Mintze Can be Broncos Next UDFA Gem

Can the Vanderbilt defensive end be the next gem the Broncos find at the position?
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The Denver Broncos have had quite a bit of success in recent years when it comes to finding quality, young defensive ends. What is even more impressive is the fact that they have been able to do it through undrafted free agency.

The major success story came with Shaquil Barrett. The Broncos signed Barrett after the 2014 NFL draft. He spent four years with the team, accumulating 14 sacks over that time. Since leaving the team and signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Barrett has added 27.5 sacks in two seasons and another Super Bowl Championship to his career resume.

The success doesn't stop there, though. The Broncos signed Malik Reed after the 2019 NFL Draft. In two years with the team, Reed already has 10 sacks under his belt and is in line for an even bigger role in 2021.

While most NFL teams struggle to find a quality player in UDFA, the Broncos have been able to find and develop two gems at edge rusher. Could rookie defensive end Andre Mintze be the next in line?

Character Off the Charts

Before getting into his game, Mintze deserves praise for his accomplishments off the field at Vanderbilt University. In the classroom, he was an honor student who finished as a double major — cinema and arts, and medicine, health, and society. He also recently received his master's degree in medicine, health, and society in May.

Mintze was also big in the community. He coordinated a Vanderbilt student-athletes’ Dancing Dores drive as part of a Dance Marathon that raised money for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital on campus during his final two seasons. He raised over $40,000 dollars both years for the children's hospital with his efforts.

His college defensive line coach, Jovan Haye, had this to say about the type of person Mintze is:

He’s a community-first/team-first guy. I know when it comes to Denver, he is going to be the type of guy who is going to pour into the community. Sometimes guys come through here and they just want to play football. It is always great seeing the kids like Andre (Mintze) use his platform to really help himself in life. I always tell him that I’m proud of him. He had such a big impact around here and in the community, and that’s what you want to do in college, man.

Impressive Film

When I sat down and dove into his film, I was shocked that Mintze went undrafted. He isn't an elite athlete by any means, but I see a lot of elements that remind me of Barrett when he was a prospect.

What he lacks in pure athleticism, Mintze makes up for it in film study and technical prowess. As Haye put it in my conversation with him, Mintze found a few moves that he really liked and "made them part of his toolbox."

Rather than being, say, 50% efficient at 10+ pass rush moves, he honed in on a few he liked and maximized his ability with them. The result is some incredible nuance on a few key moves.

One of those moves is the two-hand swipe. This is clearly one he liked throughout his time in college and one he used to success.

While I would say that his go-to move was the two-hand swipe, he did have a few other moves at his disposal. The two other ones he seemed to favor more than others were the inside swipe and speed to power.

Mintze has incredibly strong hands along with a sturdy build. He was able to take these three moves, add them to his toolbox, and build counters off of them to maximize his ability.

On top of that, he was an excellent student in the film room and learned about offensive line techniques to understand how to better attack his opponents.

"He is a student of the game and a very vocal hard worker. He used film to his advantage and was able to learn how to attack his opponents on gameday." said Haye.

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While he was more known as a pass rusher in college, I liked a lot of what I saw in run defense as well. He is a high-energy player with an excellent motor. He is also a player who isn't afraid to do the dirty work in the run game to help his team.

He can set a hard edge, eat up a double team, or stack and shed a block from any defensive position. He is a highly versatile player who is willing to do whatever he needs to for his team.

Bottom Line

The Broncos have had quite a bit of success when it comes to finding undrafted edge rushers in recent years. Mintze has the ability to be the next in the recent line of hits.

While he isn't the most physically impressive player, he is a technically sound/nuanced one who can make this team. He certainly has a lot of work to do, but he has so many similar traits as the two success stories before him — in terms of work ethic and technique.

Mintze is obviously in a tough battle for the final spot in the edge group this offseason. While there have been positive reports about his play in practice, that is going to have to carry over to the preseason games for him to truly make the team. I, personally, like his chances.

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