The Denver Broncos drafted Dalton Risner with the 41st overall pick in the 2019 draft. After spending about a decade rarely using day one or day picks on the offensive line, the Bronco front office invested a first in Garett Bolles in 2017 and a 2nd in Risner in 2019. Neither has met expectations, but Risner, to me, has been more of a disappointment since he has not even had the one great season that Bolles had.
There are 25 players who have made the Pro Bowl (joke that it now is) from the 2019 draft. Ten of the 25 were taken after Risner. Nine 2019 draftees them made the Pro Bowl multiple times. Of those nine, three were taken after Risner: C/G Elgton Jenkins, WR AJ Brown and Edge Maxx Crosby.
The Bronco 2019 draft, which seemed so promising in 2019 and 2020, has turned to dung. Our first two picks Noah Fant and Drew Lock disappointed and were turned into Russell Wilson, who has severely disappointed in Denver (so far). Risner has disappointed. Dre’Mont Jones is the only one who seems like a “win” from that draft at this point. Since Justin Hollins never really played for the Broncos and Juwann Winfree never really played. Back to Risner now...
By PFF overall grade, Risner has been consistent, but consistently average. His PFF score by year: 64.4, 61.3, 59.0, and 61.1. To put that in perspective, the best guards in the league most years are going to be in the low 90s or high 80s. The top three OGs in 2022 had grades of 95.0, 87.5 and 80.2 (and none are free agents - Chris Lindstrom, Joel Bitonio and Teven Jenkins, who also was a T in college like Risner).
Why the Broncos should bring him back
While Risner has been an average starter, he has at least been mostly able to stay on the field and has the most OL starts of any Bronco over the past four seasons with 62. He has never failed to start less than 15 games in a season. The hometown player might give the Broncos a discount to stay in Denver. There are plenty of free agent OGs right now and Risner is not one of the best available. That means he won’t command the same money that someone like Isaac Suemalo (PFF grade of 75.2 last season) will, but Risner is helped by the fact that there aren’t many good free agent guards on the market. Many of the guys who are available are average, just like him (yay?).
There are currently 13 OGs who played 60% or more of the snaps last season and are UFAs (were going to exclude the few ERFAs and RFAs OGs).
Player - Age - 2022 PFF grade
- Ben Powers - 27 - 62.9
- Rodger Saffold - 35 - 43.7
- Isaac Seumalo - 30 - 75.2
- Dennis Daley - 27 - 46.1
- Jon Feliciano - 31 - 57.7
- Dalton Risner - 28 - 62.2
- Alex Bars - 28 - 45.4
- Connor McGovern (the other one) - 26 - 52.2
- Coleman Shelton - 28 - 58.0
- Will Hernandez - 28 - 65.4
- Nate Davis - 27 - 70.6
- Trai Turner - 30 - 53.0
- Nate Herbig - 25 - 58.0
So while Risner is not good, he was still comparable or a little better than most of the available UFA OGs in 2022. Seumalo, Hernandez and Davis are the only ones who were significantly better ion 2022 - if you trust PFF grades. If you want a second opinion, SISdatahub.com has a points system where offensive lineman gain points for good play and lose points for bad plays like blown blocks or penalties.
Suemalo and Powers were two of the best point earners at guard last season with 44 and 43 points respectively. The 2022 1st team AP All-Pro guards, Bitonio and Zack Martin, earned 42 and 38 points. Risner earned 25. The AP 2nd team All-Pro guards, Joe Thuney and Chris Lindstrom earned 31 and 36 points. According to SIS, Jason Kelce was far and away the best offensive lineman in the league last season with 56 points. Connor Williams was second with 47. Robert Hunt and Landon Dickerson were their two highest earners at guards with 46 points.
Why the Broncos shouldn’t bring him back
Risner, through minimal fault of his own, is tied to the culture of losing in Denver. He has never played for a Bronco team that finished with a winning record or made the playoffs. Given his limited abilities, it might be best to move on from him. Even if we bring in a cheap FALG who is comparable in ability, a fresh start for Risner and for the Broncos at LG might do the Broncos and Dalton good.
It’s also possible that our starting left guard for 2023 is already under contract. Luke Wattenberg played horribly in 2022, but a year of NFL nutrition and lifting might allow him to look like a very different player in 2023. I really think Wattaburger needed the same redshirt year that Matt Paradis and Connor McGovern (the center, not the guard) got in Denver.
It’s also possible that tackle-turned-guard and current OL coach, Zach Strief, could see a lot of himself in Quinn Bailey and develop the ginger giant into a quality starter at guard where Bailey played most of his 162 offensive snaps in 2022.
It’s also possible that Graham Glasgow restructures his deal to stay and he is the starting LG for the Broncos in 2023.
The Broncos don’t have that much cap space to work with right now and there are bigger holes to fill than LG at the moment.
If the Broncos don’t bring back Risner and Dre’Mont Jones, which looks like it is a distinct possibility, no 2019 Bronco draftee will remain on the team. There will be two from the 2018 draft still on the team (Courtland Sutton and Josey Jewell) and most likely only one from the 2017 draft (Bolles). This century the Broncos generally have not resigned their draftees after their rookie contracts, so this should not surprise you.
Should the Broncos bring back Dalton Risner?
This poll is closed
Only if he takes a cheap, one-year "prove it" deal