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Jared Veldheer is the right tackle the Denver Broncos have been searching for

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The Denver Broncos have been searching for a right tackle for years and may have finally found an answer in veteran Jared Veldheer.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos have had a laundry list of ineffective and sometimes terrible right tackles since Orlando Franklin last played right tackle for Denver in 2013: Chris Clark, Paul Cornick, Luis Vasquez, Ryan Harris, Michael Schofield, Donald Stephenson, Ty Sambrailo, Menelik Watson, Allen Barbre, Billy Turner, Cyrus Kouandjio.

Name: Jared Veldheer
Position: Offensive Tackle
Height: 6’ 8”
Weight: 321
Age: 31
Experience: 9 years
College: Hillsdale College

So in four full seasons we have had eleven different guys take snaps at RT. There are some teams who have had the same player to almost every snap at RT over that same time span. So enter Jared Veldheer, who has spent the majority of his career playing left tackle in the NFL.

The Bad

Jared has been a left tackle for most of his NFL career, but last season in Arizona he was asked to play right tackle. He was terrible at it in his first few games for the Cardinals in 2017, but then he settled in and played quite well for the remaining 9 or 10 games he appeared in.

Therein lies part of the “bad” with Veldheer. He only played in 13 games in 2017 after missing half of the 2016 season with injuries. He has been placed on injured reserve three times in 8 NFL seasons - in 2013 after week one (triceps), in 2016 after week nine (triceps) and in 2017 after week 15 (ankle). At the age of 31, the specter of another season injury has to loom large for the veteran tackle who will again be playing RT.

The Good

Veldheer is lean and quick for a tackle. He had enough physical skills for the Raiders to use a third-round pick on him, despite having played at D2 Hillsdale College. While I discussed his injury history in the bad section, he has actually been fairly durable during his career with five of his eight seasons seeing him appear in all 16 regular season games.

Veldheer is a good tactician with only 24 false starts, 23 holding penalties and 28 sacks allowed in 101 career NFL starts (data from stats.washingtonpost.com/fb). Seven and a half of those sacks were allowed during his rookie season when he started 11 games (but appeared in 16). Since then he has only allowed 20.5 sacks in his last 90 NFL starts.

Even playing poorly at the start of last season, Veldheer only allowed 5.0 sacks in 13 starts in 2017. For comparison, Menelik Watson in seven starts at RT for us last season had one false start, one holding penalty and allowed 7.5 sacks. Donald Stephenson started four games at RT, had two holding penalties and allowed 3.0 sacks. Allen Barbre started four games at RT, had one false start, five holding penalties and allowed 4.0 sacks (not sure if all of his penalties and sacks were from his time at RT since he played some guard). Billy Turner played 34 snaps at RT and allowed one sack.

So our RTs last season allowed something close to 16 sacks (note that Cyrus Kuoandjio did not allow a sack in his week 17 start against the Chiefs’ JV defense). It will not be hard to be an improvement on that ~16 sacks allowed by our right tackles last season. Veldheer IS a dramatic improvement and would be an improvement even if we had been getting competent play from our right tackles since Orlando Franklin (and Ryan Harris for the most part).

Quotable – in his own words

On his expectations when coming to Denver

“I didn’t really know what to expect coming to a new team. I hadn’t really gotten a chance to watch anything from the previous seasons. Being able to be out here and meet all of the guys and actually starting to get to work with them is awesome. It’s a great group of guys and I couldn’t have asked for a better spot.”

On having Case Keenum as the starting quarterback

“It’s awesome. He’s a great leader in the huddle, he’s having fun and that kind of trickles down to everybody in the huddle. He’s a guy who brings his ‘A’ game every day, does his job, and it’s up to us to protect him and keep him in there all year healthy.”

On going against OLB Von Miller

“It gets you better. There’s something new that I’m trying to focus on almost every rep. It’s like…that really long par three in golf that’s really hard to hit the green. Kind of like that, except running at you. It might not make sense but until you’ve done that stuff maybe you’ll understand. But it’s awesome, it’s a great chance to be able to go against the best pass rusher in football every day. It makes me have to bring my best every day, and that only makes you better.”

On how he has been feeling after his injury recovery

“I feel great. Everything is going well. There’s nothing that’s aching and it’s going to stay that way all year. I’m sure of it.”

On returning to action during training camp

“It feels great being out back on the field with the guys instead of doing work on the side. Just being a part of it, you really feel like you’re part of the team.”

2018 Status

Veldheer will be an upgrade over the litany of terrible right tackles that have played that position for the Broncos for what seems like a decade. I’d have to go back to Orlando Franklin to find a Bronco filling that position who was widely recognized as NOT below average. Jared appears to be one of two positions on the OL who have been significantly upgraded relative to last season – the other being RG – and that is not counting the year one to year two improvement that we SHOULD see form Garett Bolles.

Poll

How many regular season games will Jared Veldheer play for us this year?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    all 16
    (457 votes)
  • 47%
    12-15
    (522 votes)
  • 8%
    8-11
    (99 votes)
  • 2%
    less than 8
    (31 votes)
1109 votes total Vote Now