Now that we are getting closer to the 2013 season the Broncos have a number of players entering their 4th, 5th and 6th seasons. Many of these players are commonly discussed but we too often misunderstand what type of players they are now. While few players make big strides in years 1-3, by a players 4th year they should have progressed overall. Having said that I wanted to approach my study of these players like an NFL scout would a rookie, looking back on the most recent years game film and then write up a scouting report. By doing this I feel the Broncos fan base can create a more up-to-date picture of what these players strengths and weaknesses are instead of relying on what we remember from their early careers.
The players I choose to scout were:
- Knowshon Moreno (4th year) Scouting Report Found Here
- Eric Decker (3rd year)
- Demaryius Thomas (3rd year)
- Zane Beadles (3rd year)
- JD Walton (3rd year)
- David Bruton (4th year)
- Robert Ayers (4th year)
- Wesley Woodyard (5th year) Scouting Report Found Here
I'm going to be using CBS Sports player profile outline since it's so robust and even used by NFL.com now. They break the players skills into a variety of categories and then give them a grade for that category by looking at every snap they play. For applicable areas I'll include a statistic just for fun. For each draftee I'll try and do my scouting with either a member of the Broncos staff or a member of a reputed scouting site. Our method is straightforward with me watching every game and snap and then while he does this separately separately and then we'd watch 2-3 games together and compare notes. I then assign a grade, for example the average NFL starter at any position will be a 7 so a 9 would be around Pro Bowl level while an 8 is above average. A 6 is an area of concern while a 5 is likely reason to be benched. For Zane Beadles I was honored to work with again, a member of the San Diego Chargers linebacker staff, he didn't hate working with me so he agreed to help a second time. I know some of you felt he was too biased but I appreciated his view. This is not his scouting report since that would be inappropriate but he did assist me in my film study.
Athletic Ability: Beadles is a natural guard in the NFL, though he played tackle in college it was clear even before he was drafted he was planning on playing guard and it’s even more evident now after watching him in 2012. Beadles is a strong-armed, tall guard who works best in tight areas where he can get his hands on defenders. He had solid speed, posting a 5.28 40 time. This allows him to rapidly move his initial defender to the side, seal the hole and then burst to the second level where he can use his size on linebackers and defensive backs. He does lack lateral agility seen in tackles and top tier guards that allow them to shift side to side on delayed blitz’s or if their teammate whiffs on their block. Also doesn’t have the pure strength to handle large defensive or nose tackles in the run game.
- GRADE: 8.0 (Improvement)
Football Sense: Beadles is seen as a smart player who can rapidly read and learn what he sees on film. He rarely makes mental mistakes such as mis-reading his responsibility or getting fooled. He is susceptible at times to complex defensive schemes and while is very successful in terms of power blocking had some troubles in zone blocking, though that sample size is small for 2012. Overall Beadles is a smart, heady player who can, on occasion, be caught off guard when things get messy prior to the snap but.
- GRADE: 8.1 (Push)
Character: Considered the vocal leader of the offensive line, Beadles is outspoken and motivational, always talking and helping younger players and has developed a strong relationship with the other young lineman he’s grown up in the league with, especially center J.D. Walton and right tackle Orlando Franklin. Beadles is also extremely active with the local fan base as well as charities in the region and is well respected among his coaches, both in college and in the NFL.
- GRADE: 8.9 (Improvement)
Competitiveness: Offensive line coach Dave Magazu once said that Beadles is a two headed coin, one side that plays pranks and laughs like a litte kid but when he gets on the field he’s different and it shows. Beadles regularly gets into scuffles in game as well as in practice as those who’ve followed past years OTA’s and training camps will attest too. Beadles is a player who tends to play till the echo of the whistle and is a physical player who has the habit of enjoying it when he goes against strong competition. Beadles is also rumored to start competitions out of anything and everything in the locker room, from weight training tests to eating competitions.
- GRADE: 9.1 (Improvement)
Work Ethic: A player who loves the practice field and the film room, Beadles enjoys the chance to push his body to improve. He is limited in his overall strength; he does his best to improve in that area as much as he can. Considered one of the bigger game film buffs on the team, Beadles is apparently quite adapt at understand and absorbing what he sees and then applies it to his game. Known as a hard worker on the field as well as in the class room but does tend to take some down time, especially during a few non-mandatory practices in the past few years, showing up but often just to meet his new teammates or to goof around with his friends.
- GRADE: 8.2 (Push)
Pass Blocking: Lacks the elite agility needed to really move around in space well and can be caught off guard and off balance if defenders can move around him with their speed or spin move. This is why he does best in a tight space where he can use his arms and strong stance to get a hold of defenders and keep them held in place. His footwork is solid enough though that he’s able to do a decent job of getting back into his stance if he gets blown by or a blitz isn’t what it seems. He doesn’t have a strong punch to off-set defenders who are trying to get their hands up but has strong enough grip that it’s rarely an issue. His biggest area of concern is when he’s asked to go man on man with the top physical defensive tackles or nose tackles who are strong enough to just overpower him. Say nearly every game he would also kind of sit on players he knocks down on passing downs so they don’t get back up, was effective and frustrating for defenders.
- GRADE: 8.8 (Improvement)
- STAT: In 2012 Beadles only allowed one sack and only allowed a pressure on 3.2% of his total snaps.>
Run Blocking: Zane was a very solid run blocker, especially when tasked with defensive ends or getting the second level and taking on linebackers. As stated earlier he isn’t strong enough to handle physical interior lineman consistently but has good enough form to hold them in place long enough to largely succeed but does struggle to contain them throughout the entirety of the play, which can lead to tackles from behind. His worst game last season was against the premier defensive tackles of the Bengals but the counter argument was against Oakland where he manhandled their front tackles. Plays smarter than physical, like other lineman such as Orlando Franklin, his best tool is always knowing where the runner is and putting his feet between the defenders and the runner. Also is quite smart in terms of immediately reading if his defender is dropping back and then he’ll move to the 2nd level rapidly, using his speed to keep up with the play.
- GRADE: 7.6 (Improvement)
- STAT: In 2012 the Broncos ran behind Beadles more than any other lineman besides the combined snaps of centers Walton and Koppen.
Pulling/Trapping: In 2012 this was the weakest point of Beadles game. He just lacks the agility to turn and block rapidly enough to be successful on run plays. Has much more success in the passing game, especially screens where he can get a head of steam going and get up to his straight line speed. Overall his lack of lateral speed really weakens his overall pulling game. He does recognize when he won’t get to his spot so he does his best to get his hands on the defender any way he can to slow them down even a bit, also successful using cut blocks when he misses. Overall he was an average starting guard in this area and I think my grade will reflect that, made some good plays and some bad ones, majority of the time he was just okay.
- GRADE: 7.0 (Push)
Downfield: A mixed bag, struggles on inside runs that get taken outside because he lacks great lateral agility to adjust and this hurt in 2012 since two of the main Broncos backs (McGahee, Hillman) had a tendency to do that. But when you watch him on designed plays that take him down the field he’s very successful, using his speed to get going downfield and bulldozing linebackers and defensive backs. Very effective with the one or two downfield block but doesn’t have balance to keep going 10+ yards downfield or when a defender challenges his on the move.
- GRADE: 7.9 (Push)
OVERALL GRADE: 8.2 (Improvement)
Zane Beadles has spent his three years starting to improve his craft significantly, earning a Pro Bowl nod in 2012 for his work. While he does continue to struggle in relation to his trap game, he's proven to be a solid run blocker and excellent pass blocker. He's a smart player who has adjusted his game to compensate for his weak lateral agility and only average strength. He is also very experienced in the no huddle, possibly one of the best lineman the Broncos have in that regard due to having run if under a variety of quarterbacks and offensive schemes his entire career. Beadles appears to be the long term answer at guard and seems to be still improving. He has flaws but works hard to hide them and actually got noticeably better as the season went on, though Peyton Manning may have been part of that. If he can continue to improve he could be a perennial Pro Bowl guard who can be the emotional leader on the offensive line.
Thanks for those who took the time to read this and if you have any suggestions for players we should scout let me know in the comments section. We won't be scouting and players with two or fewer years of experience since there isn't expected to be much change from college.