There is no doubt that the most woeful unit in respect to the 2016 Denver Broncos was their offensive line. In order to fortify their trenches for 2017, the Broncos signed Ronald Leary and Menelik Watson in free agency, both of which are penciled in as starters at left guard and right tackle respectively. Unfortunately, a lot more work needs to be done in order for the team to have an offensive line capable of winning in the trenches consistently.
Their disastrous performance strongly suggests the team may use a first round selection improving the unit. Furthermore, the team has interviewed, hosted and scouted a myriad of top prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft. Most certainly, an upgrade or two is coming via the NFL Draft and I'd be thrilled if the team opted to select versatile Ohio State interior lineman Pat Elflein as part of their offensive line makeover.
Pat Elflein is a freaking tank, mercy pic.twitter.com/BIxjTsqOWv— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) April 1, 2017
Elflein is one of the most pro-ready prospects on the offensive line in this year's draft class. He has valuable experience at right guard, left guard and center and would provide positional flexibility for the team and give Denver a long-term option at several positions. While his pass protection could use some improvement, he is an absolute road-grader in the running game and would boost the team's efficacy in this regard and give them a tenacious and fierce presence in their trenches. Let's take a deeper look at Elflein and why he would be a great selection for the Denver Broncos.
Center / Guard, Senior — Ohio State University
Height: 6'3" | Weight: 303 lbs. | Arm Length: 33 1/4" | Hands: 9 3/4"
40 Yard Dash: 5.32 seconds | Bench Press: 22 reps | Vertical: 23.5" | Broad Jump: 99"
3 Cone Drill: 7.94 seconds | 20 Yard Shuttle: 4.71 seconds
Film Room and Highlights
Hart's Scouting Report
Positives: Three-year starter for Ohio State's offensive line, with experience at left guard, right guard and center. Highly thought of by his coaches and teammates due to his high character, tremendous work ethic and leadership skills. Desirable physique with a thick and strong lower body that helps him excel consistently at the point of attack. Road grader in the running game who plays nasty and finishes his blocks with authority. Hand placement and overall technique is superior to many lineman in this year's class. Above-average pass protector, but experienced a drop-off in that regard upon switching to center as a senior.
Negatives: Not as athletic as team's would desire. Footwork and lateral movement occasionally labors when asked to play in space. Had issues with blitz recognition from the center position. Could play in a zone blocking scheme, but his best bet might be a power man scheme that takes advantage of his brute force at the point of attack.
Overall: Top 50 prospect. Outside of top-tier athleticism, Elflein has everything you look for in a high-quality NFL caliber interior lineman. He's one of my favorite prospects in this year's draft and I believe has the tools and ability to start immediately as a rookie. I think his floor is an above-average starter you don't need to worry about, but at his best, I believe he can be a Pro-Bowl lineman with a chance at earning All-Pro honors sometime in his career.
Hart’s Pro Comparison: Nick Martin / Travis Frederick
Does Pat Elflein make sense for the Broncos?
Tackle is obviously the biggest need for the Denver Broncos in respect to their offensive line, but I'm not as enthused about the current slate of players on their interior line as some. Drafting a prospect such as Elflein gives the Broncos an option at center or right guard for the future and could help solidify their offensive line for a long time. It's uncertain whether or not the team will reward center Matthew Paradis with a long-term contract extension, so having a back-up plan ready in case they don't offer that would be wise.
OL take:— Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) April 8, 2017
Most pro-ready OL I've seen this draft in terms of ovr. technique (hands/leverage/base) is Pat Elflein + scheme/position versatile.
I think he's a tremendous fit for the Broncos and could start for them immediately. I have no doubts that his career trajectory will be much better than those of Max Garcia or Michael Schofield, and he is unquestionably a better prospect that Connor McGovern. Elflein may be a bit of a luxury selection, but it's also a selection that adds leadership, toughness, grit and versatility to a unit in desperate need of upgrading.