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2017 Broncos roster: Guard, Max Garcia

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We continue with our daily series of breaking down the Denver Broncos 2017 90-man roster. Today we keep the football rolling looking at likely starting right guard, Max Garcia.

Divisional Round - Pittsburgh Steelers v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Name: Max Garcia
Position: RG
Height: 6'4" Weight: 309lbs
Age: 25 Experience: 3rd
College: Florida

Max Garcia was selected in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. At the time, Garcia was penciled in to be the Broncos starting left guard, but they ended up signing veteran Evan Mathis who eventually stepped in as the starter. So Garcia ended up spelling time at both guard positions and giving breathers to veterans Evan Mathis and Louis Vasquez. Garcia ended up playing some significant snaps his rookie year and even ended up getting five total starts in. This playing time helped prepare him for a bigger role in 2016.

This past season, Garcia slid to the left side to replace Evan Mathis in the starting lineup and ended up starting all 16 games for the Broncos. He had his ups and downs this past season but his play helped him earn a starting job in 2017.

With the Broncos signing guard Ronald Leary to the big free agent contract, Garcia will shift from the left side of the offensive line to the right side in 2017.

“I said I’d play right just off the bat, but whatever we have to do to be more comfortable. It may happen where I’ll have to go to the left or he’ll [Leary] have to go to the right. It’s going to happen. As long as we’re prepared to make that change, it’s going to be OK. There are a few differences. It’s just how you see things, how you see the defenses and your stance. Right now, it’s tricky. I wanted to get into my left stance when I’m working in drills, but just have to remember to work out of that right stance. It’s not a huge difference, but it is a difference.”

The Broncos plan on being more physical as a team this year, and this means a more physical mindset from their blockers. Garcia says this plays into his playing style more than “playing horizontal” like they have the past two seasons.

“I’m going to be able to prosper a little bit more and just be able to use my physicality a little bit more.[We’ll] be able to play a more vertical game instead of playing horizontally.”

Garcia’s skill set does fit more of a power scheme and the Broncos do plan on going in that direction with Jeff Davidson as their offensive line coach. It remains to be seen how much power they go, or if they still plan on keeping some zone elements to their game. Either way, this switch should benefit Garcia who is more a power blocker/”phone booth” guy.

The good:

Garcia has shown he can be a versatile player for the Broncos, and that is always a good thing. He has played both guard spots and played some center during his time at Florida as well. So if/when injuries do strike the Broncos offensive line, it is good to know that Garcia is a moveable chess piece.

Garcia says he doesn’t mind being that versatile guy for the Broncos and that he is a team player.

“I don’t mind it. I don’t mind it at all. Really, I’m a team player. That’s really what it boils down to. I just see it as a part of the game. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m not one of those guys that are going to be playing at a set position my entire career because I haven’t done it yet. I started off at left tackle in college and then I moved to guard and moved to center. It really doesn’t matter to me.”

This is the sort of mentality and versatility is something coaches love to see and have from players.

As I mentioned prior, the move to more of a power scheme should benefit Garcia as it fits his skill set more. So hopefully, with the Broncos going more power and being more physical as a unit that Garcia can dominate more in the run game. That is his game, and hopefully, Davidson can take advantage of it.

The bad:

Garcia’s biggest issue has been in pass protection. He has had some issues with interior speed and has given up some serious pressure on the Broncos quarterbacks resulting in hits and sacks. This is something he needs to clean up if he wants to hold on to his starting job throughout the season.

He has been at best an average starter for the Broncos, so hopefully, he can make that next step this season. If not, his long-term starting job will likely be in jeopardy. So this is a big make or break season for Garcia.

Quotable:

Garcia on the new coaching staff challenging the offensive line.

“It’s been one of those undertones that we really didn’t address but now it’s been brought to the forefront. We have to do our job. We have to carry our own weight and pretty much make a name for ourselves. When the game is on the line, we want to control that. We don’t want to just give it up to the defense. It’s been like that in the past, but we definitely want to change that mentality and that attitude.”

Roster status:

Garcia’s roster spot is pretty safe heading into the season. He is penciled in as your starting right guard for the season. His main competition figures to be Michael Schofield who was the Broncos right guard last season, but for now, he is ahead of him.

A dark horse for this job is second-year player Connor McGovern. He is getting first-team reps at center while Matt Paradis rehabs his hips so he has a chance to impress the coaching staff. You know what they say, coaches try to get their five best offensive linemen out there. With all that said, Garcia is likely your starting right guard in 2017.