Connor McGovern was picked up by the Broncos in the fifth round, and many a fan was thinking, "Finally! Finally we are adding help to the offensive line."
And if you've been paying attention ever since that moment, it appears that the former Mizzou guard could be an immediate contributor to an already young-but-improving Broncos' O-line.
Providing the Combine's best performance in the bench press for an offensive lineman with 33 reps, McGovern's strength is obvious. And having played both tackle and guard (even center), his versatility is obvious upside for a Broncos' staff that loves players who can play more than one position.
At the Combine McGovern pointed out that he had preferred playing defensive line in high school, but he always knew his body type was better on the O-line. When he was recruited by Missouri, it was mostly for his all-around athleticism.
"Mizzou recruited me. They said, ‘We don't know where we're going to put you. We're recruiting you because you're an athlete," McGovern recalled. "We're going to teach you how to play football.'"
Credit the Mizzou coaches for doing just that.
Shane Ray, the Broncos' No. 1 pick in 2015 and a fellow Tiger, said he is looking forward to having his old teammate on the squad.
MHR - Clearly one of the bigger needs for the Broncos in the past two years has been a stronger O-line. Did the Broncos just get better with that unit by adding Connor McGovern?
Oscar Gamble - I think the Broncos just got a starting right guard with Connor McGovern. I think he's a long term starter in the NFL. It's his natural position and the one he had the most success with in college. McGovern is very strong, this much you probably know by now, but he got that way by being committed to the weight room; I think he'll absolutely succeed in the NFL.
MHR - McGovern obviously fits Elway's preference of getting "athletes" as much as anything else on his football team, and he'll move from playing tackle last season to playing guard for the Broncos. What will be his challenges in the transition and do you think he'll be a good fit there in the NFL?
Oscar Gamble - Yes, he's athletic enough to play several positions, but he struggled on the outside in college and would struggle there in the NFL. Missouri's coaches operated on the principle that you play your best athletes at center and left tackle, which meant McGovern had to move from right guard to left tackle for his senior year. Why they chose to stick with that when it became obvious he was a better fit inside is huge mystery and part of the reason several coaches were not retained.
MHR - What were McGovern's biggest strengths at Mizzou, and how do you think that will translate to the NFL? Is he a good fit for the Broncos' ZBS?
Oscar Gamble - McGovern is driven and dedicated, you can see that from his workout regime and those two traits will help him transition into a successful NFL-caliber lineman. But he is not just a weight room warrior - he is athletic enough to fit into the Broncos' scheme and move laterally, help-block on a defensive lineman, then get to the second level and overpower the linebackers.
I think Missouri's offensive line was most effective when McGovern and fellow 2016 NFL Draft pick Evan Boehm were on the move and used at the point of attack.
MHR - He was asked at his opening presser if he'd enjoy one-on-one drills with former Tiger teammate Shane Ray and McGovern said "sure" but admitted Ray has serious "get-off-ball" speed. If there were a one-on-one drill between the two, who wins?
Oscar Gamble - Ray combined his tremendous quickness with his surprising strength to make college linemen's lives miserable. I really enjoyed talking about Ray last year. If McGovern can get his hands on Ray, he could probably stall him long enough to "win" a one-on-one, but I think Ray would win 8 out of 10 of these match-ups because of his speed and technique.
MHR - McGovern's PFF rating for run blocking was very high (4th best among OGs), which will suit Kubiak's planned running offense well. Is McGovern the kind of athlete who can improve his pass blocking with enough coaching/practice?
Oscar Gamble - I remember reading about McGovern's PFF rating during the season, and the gist of it was he was sufficient as a pass blocker; he was not a liability and was the best available option for Missouri last year. I think he's more comfortable run blocking because it suits his strengths but with some offseason workouts and training, he can grow and become a plus pass blocker.
I've been reading about offensive line development a lot this year and one of the big things that stood out to me was how little in-season coaching and player development many linemen feel they receive. But I believe Kubiak will be good for McGovern and for the Broncos' offense in general.
MHR - What is something we likely don't know about McGovern?
Great McGovern trivia: He was North Dakota's Gatorade player of year as high school senior, not Carson Wentz.— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) April 30, 2016
MHR - His twitter handle is "@McGovenator"... is that a nickname?
Oscar Gamble - If it is I'm not really familiar with it. It's obviously a reference to "Terminator," right? That's ironic since "McG" is the name of the director of the last Terminator movie (which was awful btw).
MHR - As a Broncos fan yourself, how do you like having two Tigers on the team?
Oscar Gamble - Since I've had to watch Chris Harris and Aqib Talib dominate for the Bronco's defense (both Jayhawks -__-), it's been nice to balance out the Broncos with some Tigers. I live in the heart of Chiefs country, so every Mizzou player who goes to the Broncos instead makes my day - but mostly I just root for their success.
MHR - What is your favorite thing about this kid?
Oscar Gamble - His hair. I mean, have you seen it? They're going to do such mean things to him during rookie hazing, and I worry he'll never get it back. Maybe that's my own insecurities talking.