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Horse Tracks: Russell Okung is on the clock

Why he makes sense to keep even if the cents don't make sense.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Many mock drafts have us taking a Left Tackle in the first round. If only a rookie LT could be as good as Okung week one. Yes, Mike McCoy has said he'll craft an offense around his players; however, LT is a position that rookies rarely succeed at. RT is no picnic, either.

He also wouldn't be entering a line with a good cast of veteran offensive linemen who had been playing there for a while. Donald Stephenson is a Free Agent next year, but in his case, he won't be kept. We'd save 1 million if we cut him now. This means a new RT will be brought in as we don't have a RT waiting in the wings. We are eyeballs deep in guards. For the moment, anyway. Three are on the expired contract list and probably shouldn't be re-signed.

Having a rookie and a poor pass protector play side by side doesn't seem like a recipe for success. Not to mention, there is a strong chance that the QB will also be a new starter. This doesn't add up to taking a LT in the draft.

Add to that, we have a new OL coach. He has no idea how the guys we do have, can play. He won't know that until OTA’s. The last thing Denver should do (again), is wait until all the tasty morsels are picked over and then go sign a passed over tackle/guard. That hasn't worked out, well.

As our coach said, our offense will go only as far as the OL can take it. Doesn't seem like rookies, or left overs is how to go far. Next season after we have a cohesive and good OL (please), should be when we go for a top LT in the first round, not this year.

Andrew Whitworth is the best FA available, by a large margin; however, he is 35. Plus, he will want 12M, the same as the expiring contact for Okung. Scratch him. We need to start looking at consistency. Not rotating OL every year because of age or poor performance. Jake Long is 31. His age is ok, but the fact he keeps changing teams is concerning. Not to mention, three years ago, Elway had him in for a look see and passed.

Riley Reiff was ranked dead last in starters at run block and 43rd in pass protection. His price and age is fine, but he's a big step down. Not sure how much he could be coached up. A couple on the list are just flat out poor or injured and one is recovering from a serious illness and isn't in ready to play shape. Bless his heart.

Okung wasn't great; however, he was blocking for a QB, who not only was basically a rookie, but also ranked 35th in release time. Not to mention, as Gary Kubiak had said, Siemian often drifted in the pocket. This was towards Okung, making it tougher to block. Not that I blame Trevor, I'd back away from Stephenson, too. Who wouldn't?

When it came to rushing, Okung and Max Garcia ranked 4th best in allowing negative yardage. So, while our run game wasn't terrific, the left side was very good at not letting our back get creamed behind the line of scrimmage. Plays behind Matt Paradis and to the left were more successful in first downs.

The average salary for a decent LT is $10-12 , but I can’t imagine Elway accepts that. The problem Denver has is that Okung really has the upper hand. The choices aren't great, we have no one on the roster who is a LT and a rookie won't be the answer. The only player on the below list who ranked above Okung was Whitworth. This means we bring in worse, for a couple million less.
Andrew Whitworth CIN 2 92 81
Riley Reiff DET 48 68 57
Jake Long MN 52 70 51
William Beatty NYG 52 60 64
Tony Hills NO 55 49 68
Ben Ijalana NYJ 60 49 46
Mike Adams CHI 67 40 45
Matt Kalil MIN 73 32 64
Bradley Sowell SEA 74 35 37

The amount of turnover in personnel our OL has seen for years is disconcerting. I would think that the more continuity they can keep, the better. That alone is worth a million. He also started all 16 games even dealing with a slight injury. He is also a good leader. With the potential of another new and young QB taking the reigns, someone with his statesmanship for him and our young OL, is an asset.

That means we need to hope Okung loves us enough to make a deal. His salary is too high for his play last season, rookie or not; however, maybe Elway pays him, gives him the 1M due on the first, but gets him to change the terms of the length of the contract and the 24 (gasp) million dollar guarantee. That is the real hurt to our cap.

Have a good week all and lets look forward to a deal being done quickly.

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