clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

What George Paton’s draft history might mean for the Broncos drafting offensive linemen

Did the Vikings draft offensive linemen more frequently than the Broncos while Paton was the assistant GM?

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

In 2012 George Paton was promoted to assistant GM of the Vikings. He had been with the organization since 2007 as the vice president of player personnel. So the Vikings had nine drafts where he had significant input.

Focusing on the nine drafts where he was assistant GM, we find that the Vikings drafted 18 offensive lineman - averaging two per year.

# Year Rnd Pick Player Pos From To AP1 PB St CarAV G GS College/Univ
1 2012 1 4 Matt Kalil T 2012 2017 0 1 5 41 82 82 USC
2 2013 7 214 Travis Bond G 2013 2014 0 0 0 0 2 0 North Carolina
3 2013 6 196 Jeff Baca G 2013 2014 0 0 0 0 4 0 UCLA
4 2014 5 145 David Yankey OL 2014 2016 0 0 0 0 6 0 Stanford
5 2015 7 228 Austin Shepherd T 2015 2015 0 0 0 1 14 0 Alabama
6 2015 6 185 Tyrus Thompson T 0 0 0 Oklahoma
7 2015 4 110 T.J. Clemmings T 2015 2018 0 0 2 17 41 32 Pittsburgh
8 2016 4 121 Willie Beavers T 2016 2016 0 0 0 0 2 0 West. Michigan
9 2017 5 180 Danny Isidora G 2017 2020 0 0 0 4 25 6 Miami (FL)
10 2017 3 70 Pat Elflein C 2017 2020 0 0 3 24 50 49 Ohio St.
11 2018 6 213 Colby Gossett G 2018 2018 0 0 0 1 5 4 Appalachian St.
12 2018 2 62 Brian O'Neill T 2018 2020 0 0 3 22 46 42 Pittsburgh
13 2019 6 193 Oli Udoh T 0 0 0 Elon
14 2019 4 114 Dru Samia G 2019 2020 0 0 0 3 15 4 Oklahoma
15 2019 1 18 Garrett Bradbury C 2019 2020 0 0 2 16 32 32 North Carolina St.
16 2020 7 253 Kyle Hinton G 0 0 0 Washburn
17 2020 6 203 Blake Brandel T 0 0 0 Oregon St.
18 2020 2 58 Ezra Cleveland T 2020 2020 0 0 0 5 13 9 Boise St.

For comparison the Broncos drafted 12 during that same timeframe. The Vikings took:

  • first round - two
  • second round - two
  • third round - one
  • fourth round - three
  • fifth round - two
  • sixth round - five
  • seventh round - three

That appears to me to be a good balance of early, mid and late-round picks on offensive linemen. Of those 18 picks, five (or six if you include Ezra Cleveland) have become full-time starters in the NFL. Those other five are Matt Kalil, Garrett Bradbury (both first-rounders), Brian O’Neil, Pat Elflein and T.J. Clemmings.

Keep in mind John Elway ran the Broncos drafts from 2012 to 2020, which is the same timeframe. Again for comparison here are the draft picks that the Broncos have used on offensive linemen by round 2012-2020:

  • first round - one
  • second round - two
  • third round - two
  • fourth round - two
  • fifth round - one
  • sixth round - four

Interestingly enough, the Broncos have been more successful at drafting starting offensive linemen. Seven (or eight if you count Ty Sambrailo) of the Broncos drafted offensive linemen have been full-time starters. Sambrailo only started 18 games in his six seasons, so it’s a stretch to call him a starter. The only “misses” on Broncos OL draftees 2012-2020 were Vinston Painter, Sam Jones and Phillip Blake. Painter and Jones never started an NFL game. Blake never played in an NFL game.

The other nine offensive linemen were all still playing in the NFL in 2020, even if five of the nine were playing for other teams - Matt Paradis and Michael Schofield for the Panthers; Connor McGovern at the Jets; Max Garcia for the Cardinals; and Sambrailo at the Titans.

My takeaway from this comparative analysis is that we will probably draft offensive linemen a little more frequently than we have in the past nine drafts. We might also start using seventh-round picks on offensive linemen instead of quarterbacks. The Broncos have made 10 seventh-round picks from 2012-2020, and the position taken most frequently was QB with three selections - Zac Dysert, Trevor Siemian and Chad Kelly.

We should note that if the Broncos draft and develop a right tackle, or if Calvin Anderson blossoms, and if Netane Muti develops, we could have an entire starting offensive line that was drafted by the Broncos.

You might think that would be rare, but right now four teams project to have that in 2021: Dallas, Detroit, New Orleans and the New York Giants.

The projected spend on offensive line for those four teams by rank in 2021 (in millions) is - $36.3 (11th), $25.9 (26th), $33.9 (15th) and $29.7 (19th). The Broncos are projected right now to have the 10th highest spend in the league on offensive line in 2021 at $36.9 million. As of right now that projects to roughly half of our entire offensive spend in 2021.