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Broncos show no love for offensive tackles once again

For the fourth straight draft, Denver failed to draft an offensive tackle.

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

The Broncos used the 20th pick of the 2017 draft to take an offensive tackle - Garett Bolles, who was the first tackle drafted that year. And he has finally started to play like a first-round talent.

Prior to that, the Broncos had not spent much draft capital on tackles or other offensive line positions. The Broncos now have not drafted an offensive tackle since Bolles (unless you count Dalton Risner, who has not played a snap at tackle in the NFL).

That means that there have been 103 offensive tackles drafted since the Broncos last took one.

Yes, Risner played offensive tackle in college, but he has not taken a single snap at offensive tackle in his two years in the NFL, despite a revolving door at RT. If Risner were capable of playing tackle in the NFL, I’m sure we would have already seen him there, particularly in 2019 when three different players started for Denver at right tackle (Ja’Wuan James, Elijah Wilkinson and Jake Rodgers). As a rookie in 2019, Risner took almost every snap at left guard for the Broncos. Risner is the only offensive lineman to start every game for the Broncos over the last two seasons.

In the 2021 NFL Draft, 24 offensive tackles were chosen, which was the most tackles in a long time (I looked back to 2011). There were 22 taken in both 2020 and 2019. The 2014 draft only saw 11 tackles drafted.

Year Drafted OTs
2021 24
2020 22
2019 22
2018 21
2017 14
2016 18
2015 20
2014 11
2013 16
2012 17
2011 15

Since I didn’t want to go through all 103 and see who is actually a tackle in the NFL and not a guard or a center, I am counting all players who lists as offensive tackles in their draft-search database.

The Broncos have two (Bolles and Risner) that they have drafted and there are five other teams who have only drafted two. Only one team has drafted fewer offensive tackles over the last five drafts - the high-scoring Kansas City Chiefs. They have only drafted one, Lucas Niang (96th overall in 2020). Four teams have drafted five - Texans, Raiders, Vikings and Patriots.

Rank Team Drafted Tackles Capital Invested
1 LVR 5 45.8
2 JAX 4 38.2
3 HOU 5 37.8
4 MIN 5 33.5
5 NYG 4 32.1
6 TAM 3 29.6
7 NYJ 3 28.8
8 CLE 4 28.1
9 MIA 3 27.8
10 LAC 4 27.7
11 NWE 5 27.6
12 SFO 4 27.1
13 DEN 2 26.5
14 DET 2 24.8
15 TEN 3 22.6
16 WAS 3 21.6
17 ATL 2 20.4
18 CAR 3 19.6
19 BUF 3 29.7
20 NOR 3 17
21 PHI 4 16.3
22 LAR 4 14.5
23 DAL 2 12.9
24 BAL 3 11.9
25 CIN 2 11.7
26 CHI 2 11.4
27 ARI 4 10
28 PIT 3 9.8
29 KAN 1 5.5
30 IND 3 3.5
31 SEA 3 3.2
32 GNB 3 2.1

While the Chiefs may have only drafted one tackle, they are not the lowest in terms of draft capital invested in offensive tackles over the last five drafts. That would be the Packers. The amount of total expected career AV (i.e. draft capital) from their three tackles (who were taken in the 6th, 6th and 7th rounds) is 2.1. The Broncos are in the middle of the pack here because Risner is being counted as tackle. The Raiders are at the top of this with the most draft capital invested in offensive tackles over the past five drafts. They have now used two first round picks, one third, one fourth and one seventh on offensive tackles.

The Broncos not only did not draft an offensive tackle this year, but we only brought in one offensive tackle as an undrafted college free agent - Drew Himmelman. Our offensive tackle room right now is Bolles, James and three guys who were all undrafted - Calvin Anderson, Quinn Bailey and Himmelman. Only Anderson has any offensive snaps, and he has a grand total of 132.

GM George Paton spoke to this, saying it was mostly “how the board fell” for Denver.

“We targeted a few that were taken right before we took them, but it didn’t fall our way. We still feel good about our depth,” he said, but adding that he will continue to look at the free-agent market. “Sometimes it just doesn’t fall. We had a tackle we liked but he was taken right before; that’s just the way the draft goes.”


Do you think the Broncos should have drafted an offensive tackle in 2021?

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  • 70%
    (622 votes)
  • 29%
    No - we got what we needed, DEFENSE
    (266 votes)
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