The Broncos have been struggling to find a long-term starter at right tackle since what feels like forever. The last guy to start regularly at right tackle for the Broncos two years in a row was Orlando Franklin in 2012 and 2013. So during free agency, George Paton has now signed three guys all of whom could be potential starters at right tackle: Calvin Anderson, Tom Compton and Billy Turner.
The Broncos had many injuries on the OL in 2021. They used 9 different starting combinations in 17 games after using only 4 or 5 in the previous three seasons. pic.twitter.com/ZoluuNCmrA— Joseph Mahoney (@ndjomo76) February 10, 2022
The two guys who got most of the snaps at right tackle for the 2021 Broncos were both free agents, but they were not brought back to Denver, presumably because they do not fit the offensive scheme that Nathanial Hackett and Justin Outten will use.
With the caveat that I don't trust PFF grades, here are the OL grades for Denver Bronco OL players over the past three years with a few minor guys removed for clarity. Glasgow was not on DEN in 2019. Guys in orange will are under contract in DEN for 2022. pic.twitter.com/XDpCPB10mC— Joseph Mahoney (@ndjomo76) March 14, 2022
Turner was the starting right tackle for the Packers last season and played under Hackett. Turner was average (or a little below average) for starting right tackles in the league in 2021, according to PFF.
|Right Tackle||2021 Team||Draft Spot||2021 PFF Grade||2021 OFF Snap%||Age|
Turner was one of the better right tackles in the league in 2021 in terms of pass block and run block win rate. According to ESPN, only three right tackles had a better PBWR: Patrick Mekari, Lane Johnson and Ryan Ramczyk. Notice where Bobby Massie is on this plot.
Per @espn stats, Billy Turner was one of the best right tackles in football in 2021 in terms of pass/run block win rate. #Broncos pic.twitter.com/AA036FgCpi— Dr. Nicholas Manning (@Dr_NManning) March 25, 2022
Depending on which site you trust more, he either allowed one sack (SIS) or three sacks (PFF) while getting called twice for holding and playing 73% of the offensive snaps. Turner played in either 810 or 761 snaps while starting 13 regular season games. According to PFF, Turner was terrible initially while he was a Bronco. Turner was on the Broncos for part of 2016 and all of 2017 and 2018. He played very little in 2016 and 2017 partly because he was still learning how to play in the NFL. His PFF grades for 2016 and 2017 were 32.2 and 41.5. He was a starter for the Broncos in 2018 and had an overall PFF grade of 64.4 which was a dramatic improvement for him. At least for 2021 that would have put him a little below average. His best overall PFF grade in his career was 69.2 (2019). He is not flashy, but he is competent and durable. I expect him to be the starter at right tackle for the 2022 Broncos. Turner played every offensive snap for the Packers in 2019 and 2020.
Tom Compton was the other free agent tackle/guard that did not play for the 2021 Broncos. Compton, like Turner, played at the FCS level in college (South Dakota). The Broncos will be his seventh NFL team in nine seasons. He was drafted in the 6th round by Washington in 2012. He definitely fits the mold of lighter/quicker offensive linemen that Hackett and Outten (and Paton) seem to be getting in free agency. Compton is listed at 6-6, 315. Anderson is 6-5, 300, and Turner is 6-5, 310. Compton has started 44 NFL games, but he’s never started more than 14 in any season. He started seven for the 49ers in 2021.
According to SIS, Compton was terrible in 2021. He allowed a league-high 11 sacks on only 291 pass blocking snaps. PFF says he only allowed four sacks. Even if PFF is correct, that’s still a fairly bad pass blocking snap per sack number. Compton is an elite run blocker and a terrible pass blocker, but PFF apparently likes him, giving him an astounding overall grade of 86.5 in 2021. For content, Jordan Mailata of the Eagles was the third best offensive tackle in the league in 2021 and he had an overall PFF grade of 88.3. The third best guard by PFF grade was Michael Onwenu with a grade on 86.7. So PFF thinks Compton is elite. PFF is full of it.
Compton will never be an elite player in the NFL. Elite players don’t bounce around the league like he has. Compton does have one skill that is elite. He is an elite zone blocking offensive lineman. It will be interesting to see how he is used in the offense if he is not needed to start. I could see him plugged in at guard if Dalton Risner is traded or if Graham Glasgow is injured. I could also see him getting some snaps as a 6th offensive lineman in short yardage and goalline situations.
According to SIS, Compton had 16 blown blocks while pass blocking in 2021 and only two while run blocking. He played 255 run block snaps and 291 pass block snaps.
The somewhat forgotten offensive lineman that the Broncos picked up in free agency is Ben Braden. Braden is larger relative to the tackles we signed (Braden is a guard). He’s 6-6, 329 and has played in the NFL for four years. He’s never started an NFL game and has played a grand total of eight offensive snaps in his NFL career. He’s probably a guy that Hackett and Outten are familiar with who they brought in as cheap veteran depth for the interior OL. Since veterans can be placed on the practice squad, I would not be surprised to see Braden on the practice squad despite being 28 years old.
While the Broncos have a decently full offensive line group right now, I would still expect the team to draft a developmental tackle (or two) in this draft. The Broncos still have not taken an offensive tackle in the draft since Garett Bolles in 2017. Dalton Risner does not count because he has never played a snap at tackle in the NFL. There are plenty of quality offensive tackles in this draft, so it’s a good time to need offensive tackles. Neither Turner (who was signed for one year) or Compton are the long-term solution at right tackle. At this point, I doubt that Anderson is either, but I would like to be proven wrong on that.
The Broncos have also brought in or retained some training camp guys who will most likely never play an NFL snap. The roster currently shows fifteen offensive lineman. We will keep seven or eight on the 53 (55?)-man roster for 2022. The rest will either end up on the practice squad or not with the Broncos.
|Lloyd Cushenberry III||C|
Which fringe offensive lineman has the best chance of being a major contributor for the 2022 Broncos?
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