Most of the Broncos’ 2017 position battles ended last weekend along with the end of training camp and preseason.
On offense, Trevor Siemian held on to the starting quarterback position he earned last season; an outcome that was reinforced by an unfortunate injury for Paxton Lynch. First round pick Garret Bolles sustained his early lead and locked down the starting job at left tackle, as expected. And nothing really changed at tight end, while nothing really got any clearer there either. Both the running back and wide receiver position groups featured close competition for roster spots behind the starters.
On defense, the big surprise was a position battle few realized was happening as the combination of a lingering injury to pro bowl strong safety T.J. Ward and the rising potential of 2nd year safety Justin Simmons led to Ward being one of the biggest names included among roster cuts around the league. Elsewhere, the starters are still starters and we saw some intriguing play from young players and recently signed free agents along the defensive line.
But there’s actually still one position battle continuing into the regular season. According to the Broncos’ Week 1 depth chart, as of September 4th, the starter’s spot at Left Guard is up for grabs.
That -or- is pretty significant. It means that Max Garcia, possibly the weakest of the current o-line starters and 1 of 2 remaining starters from 2016, has some serious work to do if he wants to keep the job.
His main competition, as noted in the depth chart, is former Eagles guard Allen Barbre. Despite being a backup for most of his career with the Eagles, Barbre evolved into a starter at LG during his last two seasons there and graded out as a quality starter in 2016. Pushed out by 2016 3rd round pick Isaac Seumalo, it took just a 2019 7th round pick for John Elway to acquire the potential Broncos starter.
But Barbre isn’t the only competition breathing down Garcia’s neck. The format of the depth chart doesn’t show it, but second year Guard/Center Connor McGovern is poised to make a run at the starter’s spot as well.
“Connor has done a great job. He's carried us because Matt's [Paradis] been out for an entire spring and some of training camp. Connor's done a great job playing center and now playing some guard. He's competing for playing time. I've been really proud of him.” - Broncos Head Coach Vance Joseph
Many fans doubted McGovern when he didn’t see the field even once as a rookie, but after a strong training camp and preseason filling in as the first team Center he has the look of a possible long term solution somewhere on the O-line. Playing center in the NFL is not an easy task, and filling in as well as he did makes me think McGovern may potentially be a future fan favorite.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next week or two. I don’t think head coach Vance Joseph will wait much longer to choose an official starter at LG for the season. Cohesion along the offensive line is a premium commodity, so dithering won’t benefit the team. Don’t be too surprised if the first week or two of the season features players rotating in and out at left guard.
Who wins the starting job at Left Guard?
This poll is closed
Max Garcia will hold off his challengers.
Allen Barbre will deliver like he did in 2016.
Connor McGovern just won’t be denied.
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