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Broncos roster 2016: Guard Ty Sambrailo

Breaking down 2nd-year tackle, now transitioning to guard this year. Injuries and a new position have gotten his year off to a bit of a rocky start. Let’s see if he can turn things around.

NFL: Denver Broncos-Training Camp Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Today we continue our annual 90 player roster breakdown in 90 days. If you missed the previous player breakdowns, you can check them out here.

Name: Ty Sambrailo
Position: Offensive Guard
Height: 6'5" Weight: 315
Age: 24 Experience: 2
College: Colorado State

Ty Sambrailo was drafted in the second round of the 2015 draft. The Colorado native was named first team All-Mountain West his senior season.

While he played left tackle for his last two years at CSU, he played all up and down the line in 2012. This versatility will serve him well as he is now transitioning to guard full-time this year after working at left and right tackle in his rookie season. Sambrailo stepped in and played left tackle for the first two games of the 2015 season before sustaining a shoulder injury that would eventually land him on season ending injured reserve with what ended up being a torn labrum.

With his rookie season cut short, he is now trying to earn a starting spot in his second year as a rookie of sorts, playing at a new position.

It is interesting doing this evaluation because of the sheer lack of material about Sambrailo at guard. So most of the strengths and weaknesses will be based on his tape as a tackle

The Good:

One of the positives about Sambrailo coming out of the draft was his athleticism. His pass protection was also a little further along than his run blocking ability.

Additionally, Sambrailo used his athleticism to help him get out and move in the run game.

I remember being at this game and noticing Sambrailo getting out in front and leading the way on this play. This will serve him well in his move down to guard as he will be asked more frequently to move up to the second level on stretch runs to take out linebackers.

Coach Kubiak likes what he is seeing from Sambrailo so far in the transition to guard.

“It’s different for him. When you play tackle people are away from you. When you play guard, people are right in your nose. I think he’s adapting to that. I think he’s getting better each day and he is in good health. He’s holding up. I think he has a ways to go, but he is adjusting to that environment.”

The Bad:

The quote above was before Sambrailo hyper extended his elbow, which leads us to the first negative. Sambrailo so far has not been able to stay healthy. In college he missed several games with a knee injury and also the shoulder he injured last year was the same shoulder he had injured previously in college (though they say the injuries were unrelated, which is good). Now, he has his arm in a big cast and hasn’t been able to practice much the last few days.

Let’s hope he gets back into action soon and is able to stay healthy.

The other knock on Sambrailo is his strength. This was an issue cited when he was drafted and it showed up in his rookie year. I went back and watched his first game he started at LT against the Ravens and he really struggled to get any movement at the point of attack in the run game. Of course he was going against Terrell Suggs most of the day, but still. The hope is that he has been able to work to build up his strength during the offseason after his shoulder recovered.

This has also hurt him in the passing game. Some of the clips below highlight technique flaws as well that you would expect from a rookie. Moving to guard should mitigate some of these, but not all of them by any means. He has to get better in pass protection so our QBs don’t get killed.


Coach Kubiak on Sambrailo’s injury

“I know he is going to be back. What we did is put him in a brace, so we are just trying to monitor him. He works really hard after practice and stuff. We are trying to put him through practice, but he can’t bang right now. He can’t straighten it out. It’s going to be a day-to-day deal before we put him back out there playing with the brace. We just have to wait and see.”

Russell Okung gave his thoughts on the young offensive line:

“We have a lot of work to do. All I know is that we’re really talented and you have guys that are determined to be really good. We have some really talented guys up front, whether you’re talking about [OL] Ty [Sambrailo], [G] Max [Garcia] and even the backup guys that have the ability to play, too. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I think at the end of the year you’ll see the finished product. We’re fighting to the best. I want us to be the best offensive line in football. Period.”


We will know more about Sambrailo’s progress in the coming days as his arm heals and he’s able to get back out on the practice field or take some pre-season reps. I could see his starting guard spot being a bit up for grabs if McGovern has a strong pre-season or one of the other guys getting reps at guard, Weems is a possibility.

His roster spot is not at all in doubt as long as he’s healthy, and his versatility makes him useful even if he doesn’t start at guard since he can play tackle in a pinch. So he’ll likely be a contributor this year. Whether that is a starting spot or not is up to him, and the coaches.