When the Denver Broncos selected Garett Bolles in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, it was clear to everyone on the planet that they drafted need. Without a viable option at left tackle, there was little chance, outside of something crazy happening, that John Elway was doing anything other than drafting Bolles or some other left tackle in the first round.
Broncos fans tended to like the pick overall, but there was definitely some kneejerk reaction to the available players on the board at the time (Who, Me? Nahhhhh. lol). Overall, most fans liked the pick once their kneejerks stopped flailing. Myself included.
However, Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus via The Washington Post has decided the pressure for him to contribute day one may be too much for the first-year player out of Utah. In his recent column, he broke down the eight first round players most likely to bust and Bolles made the list.
5. Garett Bolles, OT, Broncos (Round 1, No. 20 overall)
There are two reasons we at PFF rated former Utah OT Garett Bolles lower than most. The first: Bolles led the nation with 17 penalties a season ago. At a position where attention to detail and consistency is extremely important, that’s a red flag. The second: Bolles allowed 20 total pressures a season ago on 472 pass-blocking snaps. Of all the tackles drafted in the first round of the last three drafts, only Seattle’s Germain Ifedi and Cincinnati’s Cedric Ogbuehi surrendered more during their last season of college. That’s not great company. Bolles has a physicality in the run game that you can’t teach, but tackle is first and foremost a pass-protecting position. Denver’s pass protection was a disaster last year, with the two tackles ranked 51st and 58th in PFF’s pass-blocking efficiency metric (out of 61 eligible players), so the bar is low. With a first-round pick, however, the expectations are high.
The key takeaways here are Bolles’ aggressive nature and his penchant for failing in pass protection. The first fits exactly what Elway wanted in a lineman, so that will not be a problem. The second one will likely get the Broncos starting quarterback injured at some point.
Given all of the moves, the Broncos clearly want to move towards a more big play offense, which means the quarterback will need time to get the intermediate to deep throws out.
This makes their bust potential take kind of legitimate, especially for a rookie being thrown into the fire before he might be ready. We’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out.
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