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: Ben Garland
Height: 6'5" Weight: 308
Age: 27 Experience: 2nd
College: Air Force
Garland attended United States Air Force Academy from 2006 to 2009. During those year's Garland totaled 115 tackles, 11.5 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. Garland then entered the 2010 NFL Draft.
Unfortunately for Garland he went undrafted but did sign with the Denver Broncos. He attended the Broncos offseason program that year, but he was placed reserve/military list on September 4, 2010, to serve his two-year military commitment.
Garland rejoined the Broncos in 2012 and spent the year on the team's practice squad.
In 2013, Garland made an important change that positively impacted his career. Under the guidance of Alex Gibbs, Garland made the move from defensive tackle to offensive line. He didn't make the Broncos final roster that year but was added to the Practice Squad again.
In 2014, Garland started to show improvement at guard, and for the first time in his career he made the Broncos final 53 man roster. He went to play 8 games for the Broncos last season, and his future started to look brighter.
Now entering the 2015 season, Garland is currently penciled in as the starter at the left guard position, and quarterback Peyton Manning believes in him.
"It doesn’t take you long to work out with or be on the field with him to realize what an intense and hard worker he is. I think that’s paid a lot of dividends for him." Manning continued, "He’s made significant improvements in the time that he’s been here. He’s going to fight and scratch and claw, and those are kind of guys that you like in there with you trying to protect you and trying to help you."
Garland enters camp as the starter at left guard, and will be competing with veteran Shelley Smith for the starting job. A strong showing from Garland during Camp and the Preseason should make him the Broncos starter at left guard week one.
Garland fits Gary Kubiak's zone-blocking offensive very well. His system calls for offensive lineman who has good lateral movement, quick and intelligent. Garland has all three of these traits and says that he "loves" the zone-blocking scheme.
"I love the zone scheme," Garland said. "It's more lateral movement, quick, being smart and being able to move quickly and get to the cutoff block on the backside."
Garland is very familiar with this blocking scheme. While he attended Air Force he dealt with cut blocks from offensive lineman every day in practice.
"Oh yeah, every single day," Garland said. "I remember days when we had no pads on and they'd still cut.''
Garland showed his progress during the Broncos OTA's and Minicamp earlier this offseason. He showed a strong punch, good footwork, and the ability to reach the second level and latch on to defenders. He's also showing off his fantastic athleticism during these padless practices.
While Garland has been impressing on the field, he's also been impressing off the field. Garland has been the first and last player to leave the facility, according to Head Coach Gary Kubiak.
"He’s the greatest kid in the world," Kubiak said. "He works harder than anybody. He’s the first one here, last one to leave. I’ve never been here when I haven’t seen Ben here at 5:15, 5:30 in the morning."
Hopefully, all this hard work on and off the field will benefit Garland in the future.
His inexperience is something that concerns me. He's yet to start an NFL game and only has 47 snaps of regular season experience under his belt. Will he be able to hold up when the regular and potentially postseason lights come on?
Also, he might be surrounded by inexperience on the offensive line. Right now Ty Sambrailo is penciled in as the starter at left tackle, and center Gino Gradkowski only has one(really bad) year of starting experience under the belt. So there figures to be some growing pains for the left side of the offensive line.
Outside of that there's not a whole lot to really say. Garland is basically an unknown at this point.
"I've been a Bronco fan all my life. I want the Broncos to be the best team."
Garland is the starter at left guard right now, but a lot can change during camp. Veteran Shelley Smith and rookie Max Garcia all figure to compete for that starting job.
It will be interesting to see how well Garland holds up when the pads come on and they go through team drills.