In NFL draft war rooms near and far, the 2012 Broncos' defense can help break all ties, settle all arguments.

If the decision comes down to taking the pass rusher or a stout, run-stopping defensive tackle?

Take the pass rusher.

If the room is torn between a versatile, three-down linebacker and a one-trick pass rusher?

Take the pass rusher.

If the head scout likes the athletic, ball-hawking defensive back, but the head coach likes the defensive end who can get after the quarterback?

Side with the coach and draft the pass rusher.

From front to back, the Broncos didn't have a very good defense in 2012 — at least not like people thought by regular season's end, when the Broncos finished No. 2 in the league statistically. What Denver's defense did have, at times, was the league's best pass rush.

Led by Von Miller and complemented by Elvis Dumervil, Derek Wolfe and blitzers Wesley Woodyard and Chris Harris, the Broncos compiled 46 sacks in their 13 victories, an average of 3.5 per victory.

On third down, when the offense is more apt to pass and Miller and Dumervil can dig their toes into their rushing blocks, the Broncos had the No. 1 defense in third-down percentage — in victory.

But it's probably no coincidence that in losses to Atlanta and Houston and last Saturday to Baltimore in the AFC divisional playoffs, the Broncos had only one sack in each game.

Without heat on the quarterback on third down, Denver's defense ranked No. 32 in defeat. From first to worst.

"We had been very, very good on third down," Broncos coach John Fox said last week. "I thought that was a big difference. We'd been good since (playing) Houston (in not giving up) explosive passes. Those things came back to bite us in that game Saturday."