In the end after countless rumors about how happy Mike Munchak was with Patrick Morris and Elijah Wilkinson, the Broncos went out and signed a big ticket free agent lineman. With Joe Thuney and Brandon Scherff both receiving franchise tags, you could actually make the argument that Graham Glasgow was the biggest name on the interior offensive line market.
Now he’s a Bronco. What does that mean?
The pass protection should improve
One of the things you immediately notice watching Glasgow in action is how reliable he is as a pass protector. He simply doesn’t give up sacks. In fact, Stats LLC assigned him with 0 sacks allowed in 2019. I’m a strong believer that sacks are a QB stat, but it’s still pretty remarkable when you consider the Lions’ quarterback situation went from Matthew Stafford to Jeff Driskel and eventually undrafted rookie David Blough. It also helps that Glasgow’s skills as a pass protector go beyond the stat sheet too.
Glasgow’s pass protection is very good. One unsung natural gift that helps him here is he has stupidly long vines. 33 5/8” are a hair under what the NFL wants for a tackle, and are in the upper quarter of the league for guards. If he winds up at the pivot for Denver, his arms are longer than just about every other center in the league.
It isn’t just that Glasgow’s arms are long that make him such a reliable pass blocker though. He also displays good hand placement and the coordination and quickness to recover when an arm is swatted by an opponent.
The other big things that helps Glasgow in pass protection are his eyes. He does a fantastic job keeping his head on a swivel and anticipating where opponents will attack his areas. I also like his ability to anchor, or hold ground. He’s solid in this area due to his light feet and core strength. Because of this he can withstand a bull rush, or recover and intercept late rushers.
The run game could become more diverse
Since Glasgow signed there’s been some dispute among fans and the local media on how he’ll fit into the offensive line. He played center for most of his career before sliding over to right guard in 2019. Ironically enough, both right guard and center are the two spots where Denver has significant questions marks.
Watching Glasgow’s film last season and how the Lions used him in the running game it’s hard to imagine Munchak won’t try and play him at guard. If you’re the kind of fan who enjoyed watching Dalton Risner pull and lead across the formation last year, you’ll appreciate what it could mean if the Broncos can run those kind of plays in either direction. That’s what Glasgow could do, he offers the kind of mobility to expand the running plays Denver had the most success on last year.
While I do not believe Glasgow is the same kind of mauler in a phone booth that Ronald Leary was before him, he’s adequate at the point of attack. One thing that seems to hurt him in this area is his length. Because he’s tall at 6’6” he has trouble gaining leverage on downblocks, which makes it hard to create movement against opponents.
This issue is mitigated a bit when the Lions used him on zone runs, as his footwork, hands, and reach make him a solid position blocker. He does a good job on double teams and looks solid getting to the second level and eliminating backers.
So what about the cost?
I found it a bit odd that people like Bill Barnwell gave the Broncos a C for signing Glasgow. His biggest gripes came down to the monetary cost:
Broncos offensive line coach Mike Munchak is one of the best in the business, and given how much difficulty Denver has had fixing its offensive line in years past, Glasgow could be a solid regular for the team. One of the reasons you hire Munchak, though, is the hope that he’ll help you develop competent guys out of draft picks at a fraction of this cost. Glasgow has the eighth-largest average annual salary of any guard in the league on a multiyear contract, suggesting that he needs to be a Pro Bowler or something close to it to justify this deal. The Broncos probably could have used this money more to help on the defensive side of the ball.
I take umbrage with this for a couple of reasons. The first being that Glasgow is will turn 28 as he enters the fifth year of his career. There’s reason to believe last year was just the beginning of his prime, and that Munchak can squeeze more out of him than the Lions former offensive line coach Jeff Davidson did.
Another aspect that has seemingly been forgotten when it comes to the 4-year $44 million contract is how three years of the deal will be played in 17-game seasons. Presumably the cap will increase as more football is played, and by signing a lineman who is rarely injured, doesn’t commit many penalties, and brings guard/center versatility he’ll look like a real bargain in a year or so.
As far Barnwell’s last point, the Broncos still have plenty of salary cap space to pursue upgrades to the defense.
I like this signing a lot from a scheme fit and player perspective. Pat Shurmur taking over as offensive coordinator means the Broncos will pass more than 60% of the time, so it makes sense to upgrade the protection Drew Lock will receive. Glasgow also gives the coaching staff options as to how to fill out the remainder of the interior, whether it be with Patrick Morris at center, Elijah Wilkinson at right guard, or another player thrown into the mix.
I gave this signing an A+ in my initial grade, and I’m sticking to that. No player is perfect and Graham Glasgow may never be an elite people mover or Hall of Fame level guard, but he fits exactly what the Broncos needed.