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2019 Broncos roster review: UDFA Offensive Lineman Ryan Crozier

Can rookie Ryan Crozier provide depth behind Connor McGovern for the Denver Broncos?

NCAA Football: Connecticut at Syracuse
Can “Crazy” Crozier make the roster?
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Calling the 2018 UConn football team’s season a disappointment may be one of the biggest understatements I’ve said this year. The Huskies finished the year 1-11 and made some dubious history as their defense broken the record for points allowed in a single season at 605. They allowed 49 or more points in 10 of their 12 games and their only win was over a FCS team.

Lost in the doom, gloom, and boom of point after attempts was Ryan Crozier, who came back from his second major knee injury to start all 12 games at center for the Huskies. In total he started 29 games during his UConn career and comes to his initial Broncos camp as a prospect for the interior offensive line where Mike Munchak is looking for depth.

The good

  • Made line calls in college
  • 29 games of experience
  • Great athlete for the position
  • Explosive mover
  • Long arms

There’s two ways to look at Crozier’s injury history. The optimist will point to what UConn’s coaching staff had to say about him:

“I like what he’s done for us at center, he makes all the calls,” UConn coach Randy Edsall said. “Ryan plays with a little bit of an edge to him which we need and need more guys to have. He is a competitor, it is important to him.

“From a coach’s perspective, you really appreciate a guy like Ryan Crozier. You can tell how important football is to these guys. For Ryan to have the issues that he’s had from an injury standpoint and for him to just keep working and battling back, doing the things that he did in his rehabilitation to get back on the field, it tells you how much he loves the game and how much he loves to play the game and how much he loves what the game is about. You know you are always going to get an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay when it comes to Ryan Crozier. He is not going to cheat the system.”

Even better, with the Broncos moving to an outside zone heavy running scheme a player like Crozier looks like a clean fit. His mobility will help on blocks at the second level and his long arms should give him extra space to lock onto pass rushers. Combine that with his experience and there’s a lot to like about him as he makes the jump. Also, a fun fact: he’s already been on ESPN’s NFL Live.

The bad

  • 2 serious knee injuries are no joke.
  • Strength a question. Probably at least year away from NFL power.
  • Played for a slew of coaches.
  • Will turn 24 during the 2019 season.

I’ll admit I’m a big fan of the 29 starts, as I prefer offensive lineman with real experience at the college game before they try to swim in the ocean. What’s a bit complicating in Crozier’s case is that he had two head coaches, five offensive coordinators and four offensive line coaches. Combine that with the fact that he may need to bulk up in an NFL weight training program at nearly 24 years old and it’s fair to wonder how much better he can get. This isn’t a death knell by any means, after all former Bronco Matt Paradis came to Denver as an older rookie as well and still wound up as a key contributor for most of his time in the Rocky Mountains. It is something to keep in mind, however.

Ryan Crozier’s roster status with the Broncos

A lot depends on Crozier’s ability to play the guard spots in addition to center. The Broncos have a lot of bodies competing for time on the interior offensive line and will probably carry just 8 on the 53 with at least 4 tightly locked up. Connor McGovern, Dalton Risner, Ja’Wuan James, and Garett Bolles surely aren’t going anywhere. Both Ronald Leary and Elijah Wilkinson’s status are a bit murkier, but they probably stick as well. That leaves 7 interior offensive lineman fighting for maybe 2 spots.

Chances are Crozier’s playing for a spot on the practice squad this season with an eye towards 2020 as a real chance to stick to the active roster. It’s a route taken by many undrafted rookie linemen and it’s certainly worked out for quite a few in Broncos history. The practice squad would give the former Husky a chance to build up his body and become acclimated to NFL speed while Coach Munchak would have the opportunity to refine his mechanics.