A day-by-day Broncos player breakdown is something we've been doing since our days at BroncoTalk nearly a decade ago. This year the tradition continues as we look at the Denver Broncos roster heading into the 2015 season in our 90-in-90 series.
Name: Ty Sambrailo
Position: Offensive Tackle
Height: 6'5 Weight: 315
Age: 23 Experience: R
College: Colorado State
Early round draft picks often enter their NFL careers with high expectations from their coaches and fans respectively. More often than not, they are tasked with early calls on the gridiron, with the belief they can make a difference on the field in areas any given team struggled in the prior season. Ty Sambrailo is no exception, in fact, he signifies the rule, perhaps more than any other rookie on the roster.
The Denver Broncos drafted rookie offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo with the hopes he would come in immediately and win the battle at the right tackle position. John Elway stated such immediately after he was picked in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
OT Ty Sambrailo, our 2nd rd pick from CSU, really fits our system. We expect him to come in and compete for a starting job at right tackle.
— John Elway (@johnelway) May 2, 2015
Those plans changed when Ryan Clady went down with a season ending knee injury, which prompted Head Coach Gary Kubiak and Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison to discuss their best option moving forward to protect Peyton Manning's blindside. After discussing their options, the two offensive minded gurus believed Sambrailo would be the best man for the job. It is an arduous task for the fleet-footed rookie out of Colorado State, but one Kubiak believes he is more than capable of doing well.
"[Sambrailo's] had no problem mentally," Kubiak stated after a morning practice session earlier this month. "Physically, it's just going to be a continuous deal. He's a worker. I think the players respect how he's going about his business. Like I said, he's got to do it really fast."
If the Broncos want to be successful in 2015, they must have quality protection and blocking up front. It isn't necessarily fair, but a significant portion of the offensive line's efficacy hinges on whether or not Sambrailo can perform at a high caliber level as a rookie. Listed below are the good aspects of his game, along with criticisms that might cause certain challenges for him this season.
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The good: Sambrailo is a gifted athlete. Not only is he a good football player, he has also won various freestyle skiing competitions throughout his youth which demonstrates his athletic prowess. A fiery offensive lineman with a mean streak to his game, Sambrailo graded out above 89% in blocking efficiency every game the last two seasons of his career with the Rams, registering a whopping total of 107 takedown blocks.
He has a good slide step in protection and mirrors well against opposing pass rushers. Furthermore, he moves well in space when run blocking downfield. His overall skill set makes him an absolutely perfect fit for the zone-blocking scheme and his versatility to play both inside and out is pinnacle for the Broncos, whose offensive line right now is a work in progress.
The bad: The first thing that sticks out in regard to Sambrailo is his ability to perform at a high level immediately as a rookie. He certainly has the tools to be a successful offensive tackle in the NFL, but earning his stripes and enduring growing pains early on as a rookie are virtual certainty. His run blocking technique could use some work, as he struggles with hand placement and leverage with decreases his functional strength and ability to finish blocks. He has short arms for a player his size and there are looming concerns over his overall strength entering his first season in the NFL.
Quotable: "I think coming in, there is no person I would rather protect. He’s a great teacher from what I’ve heard, and being a rookie coming into the system like this, you’re going to want someone like him to teach you how to do it and how to do it right. Just having the opportunity to protect a future Hall of Famer is unbelievable, and I’m looking forward to it." — Sambrailo on protecting Peyton Manning
Status: Unless Sambrailo performs awful or gets hurt during the pre-season, he is a mortal lock for the left tackle position. Behind Sambrailo veterans Ryan Harris, Chris Clark and second-year player Michael Schofield will all be battling for starting spots on the offensive line. As of now, we don't know how Sambrailo will perform his rookie season, but he has impressed legendary sack artist DeMarcus Ware thus far. Who knows, perhaps he may perform just as well as Clady did early on in his career. Here is to wishing Sambrailo all the success in his forthcoming challenge this season.