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Grading the O-Line: the education continues

Eagle-eye CH74 (and his wife?) are back at it again with more superb notes from the Denver Broncos starting offense during the game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Noah Graham

Back by popular demand - and by promise to do some serious analysis on the Broncos offensive line! - CH74 does not disappoint with this second installment to grade the O-Line. (Here's a recap on the first one.) And, thanks to a special request by KRONK-00 we have the "KRONK Kode" to help understand quickly how each member of the line did on various elements of his play.

As CH74 predicted, the starting line is beginning to click more and small improvements during the 49ers game showed great promise. A few more adjustments from the starters and this offensive line will be in good shape heading into Week 1.

After Thursday's joint practice with the Texans, Ryan Clady said it has been "good work" going up against Jadeveon Clowney every day.

"He definitely is a good player," Clady said. "He's fast, and it shows in practice and on film."

The press had reported that Clowney gave Clady a fist bump after Wednesday's workout.

"We had a couple sessions in one-on-ones and got some good work," he added. "He was just giving me a high-five out of respect."

Noting that the goal of the offensive line is to "improve every day," Clady said he thinks the reshuffling will help both the pass and run protection. And he believes working next to Orlando Franklin is going well.

"It's good. It's fun playing next to him. He's a good player," Clady said. "We definitely have a lot of work to do, but we're coming together smoothly."

But as we keep saying, it's still preseason - which is good because although we do not have a middle-finger pointing rookie QB (thankfully!) we do have new guys and new positions, so the learning curve is in full swing.

And starters will have a massive test this weekend against the Texans as they look to defend Peyton Manning against the beast Clowney and two-time Pro Bowler J.J. Watt (which, according to practice reports, is going to be a very big challenge).

But before we look too far ahead, let's take a look back at last week's treasure trove of offensive plays.

The KRONK Kode for Offensive Line Grading


  • PB - Pass Blocking
  • RB - Run Blocking
  • HD - Hand Placement
  • LV - Leverage/Pad Height
  • FT - Footwork
  • PL/T - Pull and Trap Blocking
  • PNT - Penalties


  • (=) Average Performance
  • (+) Above Average Performance
  • (-) Below Average Performance

Grading the First Team Offense

LT Ryan Clady (78): Ryan Clady looked far more confident in this game. He had a rare miss on the first running play but settled in nicely. With a very solid outing in pass protection, he held up well against Aldon Smith. The hit on Peyton Manning's scramble looked kind of like a fluke to me. Manning took off when he didn't need to. I think the Broncos Brass would agree with me - save those plays for February, Peyton!

KRONK Score: PB (+) RB (=) HD (+) FT (+) LV (+) PL/T () PNT (=)

LG Orlando Franklin (74): Orlando Franklin had a nice game and looked more comfortable in his pulling and trap blocking. I noticed two great blocks where Franklin pulled and hit the target. The first came on a play-action pass in the first drive. He also had a nice trap block where he consumed the Niners' left outside linebacker. Franklin is getting there. The only negative was that hand placement was a little off on a few plays.

KRONK Score: PB (+) RB (+) HD (=) FT (=) LV (+) PLT/T (+) PNT (=)

C Manny Ramirez (66): For the second week in a row, Manny got after it in the run game. Watching Ramirez get downhill and destroy a Niners defender at the second level brought joy to my heart! Manny is working very well in tandem with his guards in pass protection, most notably with Franklin. I did not notice any off-target snaps in this game.

KRONK Score: PB (+) RB (+) HD (=) FT (=) LV (+) PL/T () PNT (=)

RG Louis Vasquez (65): Vasquez showed a little nasty in the run game against the Niners, getting to the second level and leading the charge. I am growing more and more accustomed to Vasquez owning his man in pass protection, but he is also showing up as a run blocker quite often. He and Clark showed some very solid tandem work in pass protection.

KRONK Score: PB (+) RB (+) HD (+) FT (=) LV (+) PLT/T () PNT (=)

RT Chris Clark (75): Chris Clark had an up-and-down day. Ahmad Brooks tested the right tackle with an outside speed rush on occasion, and he was stood up on two separate plays in the first series. Clark also had trouble with his hand placement on a couple plays. Overall, Clark did an OK job, but he knows he can play better than he did Sunday.

KRONK Score: PB (=) RB (=) HD (=) FT (=) LV (=) PLT/T () PNT (=)

First Team Notes:

Overall, the starters played very well and looked dominating at times in pass protection. One thing that caught my attention is how well this unit helps to sell run on play action. They also do an outstanding job selling the screen pass. These guys appear to be rounding into regular season form.

I am no longer concerned with the reshuffling; these guys are looking like a well-oiled machine. Clady and Franklin both looked more comfortable. Ramirez and Vasquez are solid, and Clark is still improving!

These guys appear to be rounding into regular season form. I am no longer concerned with the reshuffling.   -CH74

I did not notice many man blocking concepts this week, but the Broncos did start with a 2 TE set again with Tamme playing the H-Back role. Our Tight Ends need to do a better job of blocking on the perimeter for the run game to become more effective. Where was Virgil Green on Sunday? (*editor's note: Green left with a calf injury)

Grading the Second Team Offense

LT Paul Cornick (71): I don't know if Cornick reads MHR, but he appeared to have heard my critique of him! Cornick had a much better game Sunday than he did against the Seahawks. I was a little surprised to see him lined up with the twos on the left side. This may not bode well for Winston Justice. Though Cornick did play better, he still had issues with his footwork and his pad level. He did have a nice kick-out block on the back side and showed some power on C.J. Anderson's goal-line TD.

KRONK Score: PB (=) RB (+) HD (=) FT (-) LV (=) PL/T () PNT (=)

LG Ben Garland (63): Garland was a little up and down this week. The hustle was there, but he spent much of the game matched up with Tank Carradine. Carradine was able to beat Gardner with an outside swim move and nearly logged a sack on Osweiler. Garland also missed a block on the second level. He did recover nicely as the game progressed and did own Tank on a few snaps. Garland finished the game with the threes and appeared to be better conditioned than Carradine. Training at a Mile High will do that for you!

KRONK Score: PB (=) RB (=) HD (+) FT (+) LV (+) PL/T () PNT (=)

C Will Montgomery (64): Montgomery had a rough day. He missed an A-gap blitz pickup, missed a run blocking assignment on Quinton Dial, and got stuffed back into the RB by Mike Purcell. Montgomery did look solid in pass protection outside of the missed blitz pickup though. He seemed to have problems run blocking against the bigger bodied linemen. This could go back to the conditioning question I raised last week.

KRONK Score: PB (=) RB (-) HD (=) FT (=) LV (-) PL/T () PNT (=)

RG Vinston Painter (70): Once again, Painter showed some good footwork. He keeps his head on a swivel and looks for someone to block when he is not engaged. Painter and Montgomery worked well in tandem in pass protection. He did have a second-level whiff in the run game. Painter needs to work on blocking in space.

KRONK Score: PB (=) RB (-) HD (=) FT (+) LV (=) PL/T () PNT (=)

RT Michael Schofield (79): Finally, the man everyone has been waiting to see on my report. Schofield looked like a rookie in his first game action. He did some things well and others not so well. He had solid pass protection one play and got beat by an outside rip move by Corey Lemonier on the next play. Schofield would get a nice inside run block on one play, and then jump off-sides on the next. Schofield did get caught playing high on occasion and lost leverage. Dial blew him and Jacob Tamme up en route to a nice run stop for no gain.

There is a silver lining here, though. I was very impressed by Schofield's hand placement. He keeps his hands inside and delivers a good punch. He initiates contact instead of waiting for the play to come to him. In spite of a rough first outing, I think Michael Schofield is a keeper. He has the tools; Dave Magazu just needs to hone them a little bit.

KRONK Score: PB (-) RB (=) HD (+) FT (=) LV (-) PL/T (+) PNT (-)

Second Team Notes

The twos showed that they had more experience playing together as a unit. With the exception of Garland, they all showed some improvement to their games. After last week, Garland's bar was set a little higher, but he also had a decent showing. It was good to see Schofield out there. He and Garland saw the most snaps of the reserves, which tells me they will more than likely both make the final 53.

Quick Notes on the Reserves

LT Winston Justice (77): The threes saw limited action. I didn't notice any truly positives or negatives from Justice.

C Matt Paradis (61): Paradis got absolutely destroyed late in the game by the Niners NT.

RG Ryan Miller (73): Miller and Schofield had a nice pull and block on an outside screen.

The third unit comprised Schofield and Justice at the tackles, Miller and Garland at the guards, and Paradis at center. The offense was in "kill-the-clock-and-get-out-of-town" mode for most of the time these guys were on the field. I took some quick notes of what I noticed but did not really do any in-depth scouting of the threes.

What to look for against Houston:

  • Can the starters continue to look dominant in pass protection against a talented front seven, featuring none other than Jadeveon Clowney and JJ Watt? The fact that the Niners were missing several starters in the front seven was a letdown. Will Houston prove to be a better test?
  • Franklin needs to continue to gain comfort and confidence playing inside. I hope he can build on a solid performance.
  • Clark needs to have a bounce-back game. I don't think he is in danger of losing his spot, but a solid game would go a long way to bolster his confidence and the confidence of the coaches.
  • The tight ends need to block in the run game on the perimeter. An effective run game is dependent on it!
  • The twos need to continue to show improvement as they fight for a roster spot. As of right now, Montgomery, Garland, Schofield and Painter have the best shot at making the final 53.