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Connor McGovern’s development critical for Broncos’ offensive line success

Third-year offensive lineman Connor McGovern has taken a huge step forward and should provide the Broncos’ offensive line with some much needed consistency at right guard.

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

Good morning, Broncos Country.

For several years the Denver Broncos have been trying to find consistency on the offensive line. One of the primary issues fans have come to grimace about is the team’s inability to find a high-caliber right tackle over the past few years. Whether it was acquiring Menelik Watson or Donald Stephenson in free agency or missing early on in the NFL Draft with Ty Sambrailo or Michael Schofield the franchise hasn’t had much luck anchoring down the right side of the line.

But the constant game of offensive line musical chairs hasn’t ended at the right tackle position, it has also been going on the interior for quite some time as well. Allen Barbre, Evan Mathis and Louis Vasquez were all free agent acquisitions who saw significant time as starters since 2015. The team drafted Max Garcia in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft and he has started 37 games since then, but hasn’t been a high-level performer, though valued because of his versatility. Last year, the Broncos threw a boatload of money at Ronald Leary in free agency hoping he could be a stalwart on the interior for years to come. He was an impact performer at right guard for eleven games before missing the five games due to injury — but that’s was the big question with Leary when he was signed — could he stay healthy?

When Leary went down, the Broncos called upon 2016 fifth round selection Connor McGovern to replace him. He struggled in his first few games, but down the final stretch he started to hit his groove and perform well. Throughout the offseason, McGovern has been the starter at right guard for the franchise and doesn’t appear to be in jeopardy of revoking that spot anytime soon. In fact, Head Coach Vance Joseph praised the third-year player for his consistency and growth over the past year.

“Connor has played well since last year, about Week 15 to now. He’s been a consistent performer. I’ve been really impressed with Connor,” stated Joseph. “He’s smart, he’s tough and he doesn’t make mistakes. That’s huge when you’re a starting guard on the offense,” he added.

McGovern graded out as one of the top players on offense in the Broncos’ loss to the Bears this past Saturday, but wasn’t just locked in at just one position. With rookie Sam Jones being sidelined by injury, McGovern also saw time at center, proving that he’s one of the most versatile lineman on the roster. His continued development should pay big dividends for the Broncos this year and help the offensive line become a unit of strength, as opposed to one of great concern for the coming season — which is also something Joseph acknowledged.

“I think it allowed us to have our five guys that we know can play and kind of find three more guys who can be swing guys for us,” stated Joseph. “When you have five guys you feel good about, it allows you to play five together for a long period of time so you can gain some chemistry, so you can play well together. That’s key with offensive line play, having great chemistry.”

Here is to hoping that the Broncos’ revamped offensive line consisting of Garett Bolles, Ronald Leary, Matt Paradis, Connor McGovern and Jared Veldheer can play at a high level this coming season and give Case Keenum and the rest of the Broncos’ offense a chance to do something special on the field.

As always, thank you for reading and here is today’s offering of Horse Tracks.

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