The Broncos started doing some team drills for the first time this spring and it was our first look at who may or may not be starting for the Broncos on week one of the 2017 season.
While all eyes were on Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch at the quarterback position, there were two notable players getting first-team reps along the offensive line. Those players being Donald Stephenson(left tackle) and second-year player Connor McGovern(center).
Donald Stephenson getting early reps at LT. Connor McGovern getting some center reps for injured Matt Paradis.— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) May 23, 2017
Donald Stephenson is the Denver Broncos starting left tackle...for now.
Denver Broncos Head Coach Vance Joseph said the job won't be handed to the first-round pick Garett Bolles and that the veteran Stephenson has earned the right to be the starter right now.
"It’s a different deal there. Obviously we drafted Garett Bolles in the first round, but he’s got to earn his place. Donald Stephenson has been here every day between Phase 1 and Phase 2. He’s a veteran player, he played for us last year. As far as a starter right now, it’s Stephenson with Bolles. We’re also working in Ty Sambrailo there. So, it’s three guys working the left tackle position."
I expect this to stay this way all through the spring and likely into the beginning of camp. I also expect this go like the Matt Paradis and Max Garcia situation played out a few summers back. Gino Gradkowski and Ben Garland were the starters all spring and into the beginning of camp but both were eventually replaced by the two younger players who started earning their place on the team. This how it should go (ideally) for Garett Bolles.
Plus, Donald Stephenson was terrible last season so I doubt he sticks on the left side for very long. You do not draft Garett Bolles to have him sit behind Donald Stephenson for very long, but for now, it is Stephenson's job. Hopefully, he can improve from his 2016 play this offseason.
Joseph mentioned Ty Sambrailo getting some work there as well, but according to DenverBroncos.com's Andrew Mason, that did not happen on Tuesday(Give his detailed report a read. Mase is the best).
As for McGovern, he was starting in place of the injured and rehabbing Matt Paradis. He was drafted last season as a guard but has made the transition inside to center and will likely be your starting center until Paradis is healthy enough to practice.
Quarterback Paxton Lynch said that McGovern is a good and very versatile player who has been doing pretty well at center this offseason.
"I think Connor is a good player, obviously. He’s very versatile. You can put him wherever you want to put him on the O-Line. While center Matt Paradis has been out, he’s been good and he’s been filling it. I know Matt is itching to get back out there. Connor has done pretty well."
McGovern was a fifth-round pick of the Broncos in the 2016 NFL Draft and spent the past season on the Broncos roster but inactive for all of the games. I had hoped he would push Max Garcia for the other starting guard spot, but it appears he is pushing for the guard/center backup role. This could be a very important role with starter Matt Paradis coming off surgery to both of his hips this offseason.
He is a player I am anxious to see on the field. He is as strong as they come and has some athleticism to him as well. If he can get his technique down, I think he can turn into a starter or at the very least a valuable backup for the Broncos offensive line going forward.
These two players will likely not be starters come week one against the Los Angeles Chargers, but these first-team reps cannot hurt and hopefully better them as players.