Free agency is just around the corner for the NFL and it is a great time to take a nice long look at what the Denver Broncos have in the cupboard. Every ounce of this is my own personal opinion based off what I’ve seen from the players.
Today we’re continuing our series with our offensive line and will find out what holes the Broncos should be looking to fill in the 2018 NFL offseason.
We’re going to use the following system to rank the players:
1 - Project / developmental - Not ready
2 - Backup quality - Good for a spell
3 - Mediocre starter - Meh...he can play
4 - Good starter - Solid player
5 - Superb player - Playmaking stud
I’ll rate each unit as follows based off of my assessment of the individual pieces the Broncos have on hand:
1 - Blow it up - the Broncos have nothing NFL quality to work with
2 - Severely lacking at least one starter
3 - Mediocre need
4 - Solid talent and depth
5 - NFL super group
Garett Bolles - 4
Call me cautiously optimistic on Bolles. He has trouble with technique, which is causing him to get a lot of penalties. However, I think this is predictable given his history coming into the league. Look for him to improve this year. I’m not necessarily a fan of moving him to the right side (many fans think this would be a better fit for him), but I’m definitely not against it. I think it all depends on what the team does to improve their roster this offseason.
Menelik Watson - 2
Everyone in Broncos Country had high hopes for this guy when we brought him over from Oakland. Sadly, he looked largely like a scrub and still can’t seem to find a way to shake the injury bug. I don’t think he’s a solid option for us at RT in any way, shape, or form.
Donald Stephenson - 1
Stephenson made me pine for Watson after Watson had to hit the sideline with an injury. Stephenson has never had quick enough skills to handle pass rushers on the outside and gets beaten like a drum consistently when he’s called on to step onto the field of play.
Cyrus Kouandjio - 2
Two years ago, I would have been hopeful about the Broncos pulling a move like signing a young tackle coming off an injury after he got released by the team that drafted him. Sadly, I’ve seen this same scenario with both Watson and Stephenson. I’m kinda over the idea of picking up wounded ducks and hoping our Mile High magic will turn them into falcons. Injury history aside, I will say this: Kouandjio is a much better fit for our line and scheme than what they were running in Buffalo.
Overview - 2
The problem here is that we need a legit right tackle and a swing tackle to back him up. I’m not even sure that we have either of those guys on the roster today.
Matt Paradis - 4
Paradis’ play went from all-pro to pretty good in 2017. He’s a better fit for a zone-blocking scheme, unfortunately, but he’s still a very good player. He got pushed around more in 2017 in the run game, which is something to keep your eye on.
Ronald Leary - 5
Leary is a beast. One of the best things this team could do is to move him back to his natural left side, in my opinion. He’s the best player on the line in both pass protection and run blocking, hands down. There is a bit of injury concern with him, but hopefully he gets right this offseason.
Max Garcia - 1
I honestly have no clue how this guy got as much play time as he did in 2017. He’s a joke at guard and is, in my mind, a bigger target for replacement in 2018 than our RT’s.
Connor McGovern - 3
McGovern didn’t get quite as much play time, but I really liked his work at center in the preseason and I can see the potential he has in the run game, especially as a mauler. At the very least, he’s a player with great depth on the inside who can fill in at any of the three inside positions.
Overview - 3
If the Broncos upgrade one guard and tackle position, they are set in my mind. With a draft that is deep at guard, this should be a pretty easy hole to fill one way or another.
Roster status overall
Defensive Ends 4
Nose Tackles 4
Outside Linebackers 3
Inside Linebackers 2
Cornerbacks 5 / 3
Interior O-Line 3