Name: Donald Stephenson
Height: 6’6" Weight: 312 lbs
Age: 28 Experience: 6th
The Denver Broncos enter 2017 looking for something that bears a resemblance to an actual competent NFL offensive line. Arguably, the most lacking positions of the 2016 Denver Bronco offensive line was at both tackle spots. Donald Stephenson was a very big part of that line and was even tried at both ends.
Entering into this year, he’s still under contract and absolutely still has a shot to make the team and even start week 1. Let’s take a closer look at a guy who’s play in training camp and the pre-season is going to be among the most scrutinized in Broncos Country.
Donald Stephenson brings a lot of experience to the table. He’s a guy that you know can step in at either tackle position and play the game.
He’s a better fit at the right side than the left side as he’s more of a big tackle who’s a more able run blocker than pass blocker.
He was by almost every measure (including my eye test) one of the worst right tackles in the league in 2016. He lacks in quickness, footwork, power, and technique when it comes to defending against a good pass rusher.
While his run blocking was a little better, he was a poor fit (as were most on the line) for the Kubiak zone blocking scheme. This is one thing I’ll be looking at as something I can see him showing vast improvement in in 2017.
It's not about where you are in life. But the obstacles you had to face to get where you are.— Donald Stephenson (@Don59Wayne) June 23, 2017
I honestly think he’s being kept on with the Broncos more as insurance than anything else. Also, let’s keep in mind that it isn’t like he’s an expensive option for the Broncos comparative to most veteran tackles in the NFL. He’s scheduled to make $5 million this year, but he restructured his deal in March where the Broncos could save $2 million if Stephenson doesn’t make the final 53-man roster.
I have to think the Broncos are looking to the future with their tackles in Garett Bolles and trying to upgrade talent with Menelik Wilson for the 2017 season. Bolles is a rookie. Rookie tackles don’t usually do great in the NFL. Watson is a guy with some pretty serious injury concerns. Stephenson is a economically viable option as a starter for either spot if those guys have trouble in training camp which is somewhat likely.
As someone who critiqued his play quite a bit last year, I’m honestly pretty okay with him being on the team. He is a below-average talent, but is versatile and is a “rainy day” option while the team rebuilds the line into something better in the future. Rome wasn’t built in a day and guys like this can help your football team by helping bridge the gaps in talent in the short term.
Will Donald Stephenson make the final 53-man roster?
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