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Connor McGovern should improve in 2018

Denver Broncos third-year guard Connor McGovern should make some big leaps after getting much needed game experience last season.

NFL: New York Jets at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos have had some depth issues along the offensive line, which led to Connor McGovern getting more playing time when Ronald Leary went down with injury. While he struggled at times, the game experience could lead to improvement in 2018.

Name: Connor McGovern
Position: Guard/Center
Height: 6’ 4”
Weight: 306
Age: 25
Experience: 3 years
College: Missouri

The Bad

After getting a red-shirt season his rookie year, the expectation was that McGovern would step into a starting role in 2017. That really didn’t happen. He was forced to play center in the preseason with Matt Paradis still recovering from hip surgeries and then he was not able to supplant Max Garcia as one of the starting guards during the regular season. Connor did end up taking 418 offensive snaps and starting five games for us after Ronald Leary was shut down for the year by injuries.

According to PFF, McGovern was the 56th ranked guard in the league. With 64 “starting” guards in the league, that means he was one of the worst. His overall score for the year was -16.4 (run block = -6.8, pass block = -6.6, penalty = -1.9). For comparison, Leary was graded at +6.6 for the year (11th among guards) and Garcia was rated at -23.3 (71st among guards). In his 418 offensive snaps, PFF gives him the blame for 1 sack, 3 QB hits and 12 hurries – 16 total pressures allowed. Here’s how that compares to our other two guards from 2017 – data from PFF

OL PB snaps Sacks Hits Hurries Total Pressures Allowed PB Snaps/Pressure Allowed PB Snaps/sack Allowed
Ronald Leary 425 2 3 9 14 30.4 212.5
Connor McGovern 231 1 3 12 16 14.4 231.0
Max Garcia 503 4 4 26 34 14.8 125.8

The Good

Connor McGovern will be in his third NFL season in 2018. This should be the point where he is “figuring it out” if he is ever going to develop into an average or above average starter at guard for us. He only had one start where he graded out at close to zero for the game and that was against IND (he graded at -0.2 for the game).

Given his strength and intelligence I expect him to improve in 2018 relative to his play in 2017, but I have been disappointed before by our drafted offensive lineman. In fact, the recent norm is for our offensive line picks to fail because they never really improve over how they play as rookies. Hopefully McGovern will break that trend.

McGovern is the strongest offensive lineman we have and maybe this is the year where he turns his strength into at least average guard play. Connor was the starting guard on one side during OTAs with Garcia and Watson rotating at the other guard. Leary did not participate much in OTAs.

Quotable

Vance Joseph on McGovern’s versatility

“We have a group in mind, but you have to figure out who can play multiple positions,” Joseph said of the offensive line. “That’s fundamental. You want guys who can swing between guard and tackle and between center and guard. That’s going to happen, but you want to find five guys who you can count on.”

2018 Status

McGovern appears to have the inside track to the other starting guard spot opposite Leary. He was pretty bad in 2017, but he was still better than Max Garcia so, in theory, he should be an improvement over Garcia, even if he only plays at his 2017 level. I fervently hope that he improves to at least an average level of guard play in 2018.

Poll

Does McGovern cement his starting role in 2018 and if so does he improve his play over 2017?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    yes and yes - tremendously
    (333 votes)
  • 60%
    yes and yes - a little (improves to be average)
    (711 votes)
  • 9%
    yes and no - he will still be one of the worst starting guards in the league in 2018
    (111 votes)
  • 2%
    no
    (27 votes)
1182 votes total Vote Now