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Should the Denver Broncos draft an offensive lineman early?

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Right now the offensive line is in a state of flux. We have two definite starters under contract in Clady and Vasquez. The other three spots are up for grabs and may be filled by one or more rookies. To that end let's look at the combine results to see if there are guys who have the quickness to fit well into the Kubiak/Dennison ZBS offense

Could Jake Fisher from be the Broncos first round pick if he is still on the board as he is predicted to be?
Could Jake Fisher from be the Broncos first round pick if he is still on the board as he is predicted to be?
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Before we look at the combine results for the guards, tackles and centers in this year's draft we need to look at the combine results for the guys we currently have on the roster. I will include Will Montgomery since even though he is currently an unrestricted free agent I would not be surprised in the least were we to bring him back.

Position Height Weight 40yd Bench Vertical Broad Jump(in) Shuttle (s) 3Cone (s) EN CoD
Ben Garland* G 6/5 308 5.07 18 35.0 112 4.47 7.14 62.3 11.61
Ryan Clady* T 6/6 315 5.18 24 31.0 108 4.73 7.07 64.0 11.80
Will Montgomery C/G 6/3 304 5.12 35 29.5 104 4.43 7.40 73.2 11.83
Matt Paradis C 6/3 300 5.34 23 26.0 102 4.46 7.60 57.5 12.06
Shelley Smith G 6/4 312 5.03 26 34.0 112 4.71 7.67 69.3 12.38
Luis Vasquez* G/T 6/5 335 5.22 39 30.5 103 4.94 7.66 78.1 12.60
Demarcus Love T 6/4 315 5.18 27 26.5 97 4.84 7.84 61.6 12.68
Jon Halapio G 6/2 320 5.34 21.5 100 4.83 8.26 13.09
Manny Ramirez C/G 6/3 320 5.24 40
Michael Schofield T/G 6/6 301 5.01 24.0 92 4.57 7.62 12.19




Many of our guys weren't healthy enough to do much at the combine so their numbers are from their pro-day (asterisk by their name). Garland was not invited to the combine. Clark and Cornick had no available data. EN is explosion number which is the sum of the bench, vertical and broad. I am not a fan of EN because the bench measurement unfairly penalizes guys with long arms (long arms are a good thing for offensive and defensive lineman). Manny has short arms and it helped him put up 225 lbs 40 times at the combine. Garland has long arms and it's one reason why he only was able to do 18 reps. Clady also has long arms. CoD is change of direction score which is the sum of the 20-yd shuttle and the 3-cone drill. The lower score is better here and this is a good measure of quickness off of the snap. I has to be noted that Garland was lighter (288) when he ran at his pro-day so there is no guarantee that he still has that same quickness now that his is 20 lbs heavier. So how do these numbers compare to some of the better offensive lineman in the league (not going to focus just on guys who are ZBS lineman)? Here are the top 25 lineman from the past 15 years in terms of combination of CoD and EN (using combine numbers only here)

Year Name College POS Height(in) Weight(lbs) 40Yard Bench Press Vert Leap(in) Broad Jump(in) Shuttle 3Cone EN CoD
2011 Jason Kelce Cincinnati C 75 280 4.89 30.5 110 4.14 7.22 11.36
2009 Lydon Murtha Nebraska OT 79 306 4.82 25 35.0 110 4.34 7.06 69.2 11.40
2001 Ryan Diem Northern Illinois OT 79 338 5.13 34.0 102 4.46 7.00 11.46
2005 Evan Mathis Alabama OG 77 304 4.92 35 35.5 117 4.16 7.39 80.3 11.55
1999 Justin Burroughs North Carolina State C 76 288 4.86 23 33.0 114 4.23 7.36 65.5 11.59
2011 Anthony Castonzo Boston College OT 79 311 5.21 28 29.5 105 4.4 7.25 66.3 11.65
2014 Gabe Ikard Oklahoma C 76 304 5.13 22 26.0 102 4.37 7.30 56.5 11.67
2013 Jeff Baca UCLA OG 75 302 5.03 26.5 4.44 7.26 11.70
2011 Brandon Fusco Slippery Rock C 76 306 5.18 26 28.5 108 4.43 7.29 63.5 11.72
2002 Ben Miller Air Force C 75 263 4.92 18 37.5 114 4.46 7.28 65.0 11.74
2007 Samson Satele Hawaii C 75 300 5.24 25 33.0 101 4.29 7.47 66.4 11.76
2011 Nate Solder Colorado OT 80 319 4.96 21 32.0 110 4.34 7.44 62.2 11.78
2003 Eric Steinbach Iowa OG 78 297 4.96 36.0 119 4.42 7.36 11.78
2001 Matt Light Purdue OT 77 311 5.29 26 4.49 7.30 11.79
2004 Josh Sewell Nebraska C 74 301 5.06 30 30.0 99 4.26 7.54 68.3 11.80
2014 Jake Matthews Texas A&M OT 77 308 5.07 24 30.5 104 4.47 7.34 63.2 11.81
2014 Joel Bitonio Nevada OT 76 302 4.97 22 32.0 113 4.44 7.37 63.4 11.81
2004 Robert Gallery Iowa OT 79 323 4.98 24 30.0 105 4.39 7.43 62.8 11.82
1999 Eric King Richmond OG 77 290 5.1 27 27.0 105 4.36 7.46 62.8 11.82
2013 Lane Johnson Oklahoma OT 78 303 4.72 28 34.0 118 4.52 7.31 71.8 11.83
2006 Will Montgomery Virginia Tech C 75 312 5.12 35 29.5 104 4.43 7.40 73.2 11.83
1999 Rex Tucker Texas A&M OT 77 303 5.23 27 30.0 106 4.43 7.40 65.8 11.83
2002 Kyle Kosier Arizona State OT 77 293 5.09 24 29.5 108 4.49 7.34 62.5 11.83
2001 Mathias Nkwenti Temple OG 76 293 5.57 29 35.5 113 4.18 7.66 73.9 11.84
2007 Ryan Kalil Southern California C 75 299 4.96 34 26.0 104 4.34 7.50 68.7 11.84

We see some names of really good NFL offensive lineman on the table above (Kelce, Light, Bitonio, Kalil, Castonzo and Solder), we also the some names of guys who were busts (Mathis?, Gallery, Lane Johnson?) and even guys who were undrafted (Ikard, Miller, Sewell and others). So while everyone on this list may have not been a great NFL player, they all displayed great quickness and power at the combine. So with that in mind let's look at the guys who displayed this combination of quickness and power at the 2015 combine.

PLAYER POS. HEIGHT WEIGHT 40 YD VERTICAL BROAD BENCH SHUTTLE CONE EN CoD
Jake Fisher OT 6/6 306 5.01 32 1/2 25 4.33 7.25 11.58
Ali Marpet OG 6/4 307 4.98 30 1/2 108 30 4.47 7.33 69.5 11.80
Cameron Clear OT/TE 6/5 277 4.98 32 4.48 7.52 12.00
Mitch Morse OG 6/5 305 5.14 31 112 36 4.50 7.60 76.3 12.10
Cameron Erving C 6/5 313 5.15 30 1/2 112 30 4.63 7.48 69.8 12.11
Ty Sambrailo OT 6/6 311 5.36 29 97 23 4.58 7.54 60.1 12.12
Jarvis Harrison OG 6/4 330 5.19 29 1/2 102 26 4.62 7.51 64.0 12.13
Mark Glowinski OG 6/4 307 5.20 29 1/2 113 31 4.58 7.56 69.9 12.14
T.J. Clemmings OT 6/5 309 5.14 32 1/2 111 22 4.54 7.68 63.8 12.22
Andy Gallik C 6/2 306 5.50 27 96 29 4.58 7.66 64.0 12.24

These are the top 10 guys in terms of quickness and EN in this draft for offensive lineman. Jake Fisher (Oregon) is currently projected as a late first early second round guy, so he should still be there when we are picking. Were we to draft Fisher, that would be a signal that our front office sees Schofield as more of a guard than a tackle. Fisher's CoD of 11.58 shows him to not only be the quickest offensive lineman in this draft, but it also in the top 10 this century for offensive lineman at the combine. I will be happy if we take Fisher in the first.

Ali Marpet (who has one of the best names in the draft) played at the D3 level, but he showed tremendous abilities at the senior bowl and then had a great combine. He is currently predicted to go in the late second or early third rounds of the draft. he's quick and strong, but any team taking him is going to have to worry about his ability to hold up against NFL defensive lineman game in and game out. He has never had to do that (outside of one week prepping for and playing in the senior bowl). He is intriguing but I'd rather the Broncos get Fisher at the end of the first if he is available than Marpet in the 3rd if he is still there when we have our picks (IIRC we have two picks in the 3rd - one compensatory).

Cameron Erving is the top rated center in this year's draft. He was a huge part of the success the Winston had as a QB at FSU. He is both quick and strong as well as intelligent. He has the quickness to play OT as he did earlier in his career at FSU, but he has the stoutness and intelligence to play center and play it very well.  While he is the only center currently graded as a 1st round pick, center's historically don't get drafted early so he should still be around late in the first. The highest drafted center in recent history was Markice Pauncey who was taken 18th. Last year's draft saw the first center, Weston Richburg, taken at #43. In 2013 Travis Frederick was the first center taken at #31.

Ty Sambrailo is a tackle that the Broncos have met with prior to the draft. He fits the mold of longer/leaner offensive tackles that we seem to be favoring in our "new" version of the ZBS. He is a phenomenal athlete (can do standing backflips) as evidenced by his medals in freestyle skiing. He is currently graded as a 2nd to 3rd round pick and would be an almost immediate fan favorite since he played his college ball at CSU opening holes for Kapri Bibbs.

Mitch Morse is currently predicted as a 4th round pick. He excelled as a guard at Missouri, but he has played center and tackle. He's got a good combination of quickness and explosiveness, but he might be considered a stretch were we to take him in the 3rd.

Cameron Clear was a very undersized OT at Texas A&M who was then moved to TE as a senior. He was also used occasionally as a fullback by the Aggies. He is currently predicted to be a 7th round or UDCFA player. He would be an interested project to take a flyer on in the 7th, but he is not a guy that we would be drafting to immediately plug into the starting OL.

It could be argued that there is another position on the roster where we have a bigger need than offensive line (ILB?), but you won't find me making that argument. This draft is deep at goth guard and tackle and given our need at either or both positions, I think Elway and company will buck the trend and draft an offensive lineman first this year instead of a defensive lineman.