With the season over and a huge change in coaching regime for the Denver Broncos, it is a great time to step back, take a look at the roster, and play a little armchair GM before free agency. All of this is my own personal opinion based off what I’ve seen from the players on the field.
Moving on to the offense we’ll start down in the trenches and see what our Offensive Line looks like and find out what holes the Broncos should be looking to fill in the 2019 NFL offseason.
Player Rating Key:
1 - Project / developmental - lacking necessary skills to contribute as it stands today
2 - Backup quality - Can play, but isn’t a guy you want out there every snap
3 - Mediocre starter - Doesn’t bring anything special to the table, but is able to do the job
4 - Good starter - An above-average talent
5 - Blue chip player - Top 10 talent in the NFL at what he does
Unit Rating Key:
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 - Elite talent level
Garett Bolles - 3.5
Garett Holds *COUGH* Bolles gets a lot of flak from Broncos Country for his penalty issues. Sadly that means he gets what I see as a fairly negative critical eye from most fans. There is a lot to hear about what he does wrong and not nearly enough said about what he does right.
I’m not a fanboy of the guy, but I’m not hearing the nonsense about him being below average. He’s right on track. He still needs work on technique and the recent hiring of Mike Munchak is the best thing that could have happened to Bolles.
One more note on him - people keep mentioning switching him to RT. I’m not a fan of that after seeing his play this year. It was a better year for him than 2017, but he shows some rough spots in technique. Switching him to the right side and asking him to perfect techniques but also swap how he does them from right to left and vice versa is a recipe for disaster in my opinion. Keep him at left tackle and let him keep developing his craft. He hasn’t hit his ceiling yet.
UFA Jared Veldheer - 4
I’m not going to spend a lot of time on Veldheer here other than to say he was phenomenal. The guy knows how to play RT in the NFL and does it at a high level. He should have a job with someone in 2019 if he’s still wanting to play, and I’d love to see him on the Broncos if it is possible (though I doubt it given how much he can make as a veteran).
ERFA Elijah Wilkinson - 3
I grew a healthy respect for the game and development of Wilkinson in 2018. He filled in at guard like a boss. He’s definitely got the athleticism to play the game and if he can translate his play to RT he has a good shot to be a starter for us in 2019.
ERFA Andreas Knappe - 2
Knappe is a practice squad player who’s a little long in the tooth honestly. I would love to see him make an impact, but I highly doubt it happens.
Overview - 3
Right tackle is a real gaping hole for us. If Wilkinson can fit that hole, we will still lack a swing tackle. Look for the Broncos to address this need in free agency or the draft. A lot of what they do will tell us what Munchak thinks of Wilkinson.
UFA Matt Paradis - 4
Paradis is one hell of a player. He has been since he joined the team. The rumor is that the Broncos are going to let him test free agency which is going to put him in all likelihood out of the Orange and Blue for 2019. The Broncos have a younger solid player in McGovern dialed up and ready to take over.
UFA Gino Gradkowski - 2
I wouldn’t look for Gradkowski to be back. He was a stop-gap player the Broncos brought in to cover a late season injury.
Connor McGovern - 4
McGovern is likely going to be your starting center in 2019. If not, he’ll be a starting guard. He put a lot of really good play on tape in 2018 and is the key reason Paradis is expendable at this point.
Ron Leary - 4
Leary’s injury issues are becoming very bad. Sadly that puts the Broncos in a bind with his contract situation.
The good news is that when he’s healthy, Leary is a superb player. The only question is becomes one of whether or not he can stay on the field for a whole season.
UFA Max Garcia - 3
I’m going to say it: Max Garcia didn’t suck in 2018. I’m still not sure he should be brought back as a depth guy, but he did play the best football I’ve seen of him since he joined the Broncos.
Sam Jones - 3
Sam Jones is a guy I’ll be keeping my eye on this season. He’s got a lot of potential much like what I saw from the first year that Connor McGovern had.
UFA Billy Turner - 3
The Broncos are already working on bringing Turner back as his play was very solid in 2018. He’s a versatile player on the line and a guy who put in over 800 snaps last season.
Nico Falah - ?
Who? Yeah...me too.
ERFA Austin Schlottmann - ?
Same on this guy.
Overview - 3
The Broncos seem pretty set on the interior of the line. They have a lot of young talent there and one of the best line coaches in the business coming in to work with them. The only hole that we need filled will be Leary if the team somehow finds a way to get out from under his contract (I highly doubt this will happen).
Roster status overall:
Defensive Ends 3
Nose Tackles 1
Outside Linebackers 3
Inside Linebackers 2
Interior O-Line 3