With the 257th pick in the 2023 the Denver Broncos selected center, Alex Forsyth, who played his college ball at Oregon where he started 28 games over the last three college seasons.
Here is what Dane Brugler wrote about Alex whom he ranked as the fifth best center in the 2023 draft.
BACKGROUND: Alexander “Alex” Forsyth (FOR-sythe), who is the youngest of two children, grew up in West Linn (south of Portland) and started playing basketball at age 5. He started playing football in third grade, mostly on the offensive and defensive lines. Through elementary and middle school, his football and basketball youth teams in West Linn were coached by his father (Steve). When Alex was in the eighth grade in December 2012, his father was one of two victims randomly shot and killed at the Clackamas Town Center (a mall 15 minutes from the family home) by a 22-year-old stranger with an assault rifle. Alex’s mother (Carla) and sister (Katie Hughes) were both at the mall, but away from the incident. Forsyth enrolled at West Linn High School, where he was a three-year varsity letterman on the offensive line. He was the starting right tackle as a sophomore and earned honorable mention All-League honors. As a junior right tackle, Forsyth earned first team All-State and All-League honors in 2015. As a senior, he led West Linn to an undefeated 14-0 record and the 2016 6A state championship. Forsyth again earned first team All-State and All-League honors (also named the league’s offensive lineman of the year) and played on defensive tackle, posting 20 tackles, 4.0 sacks and one forced fumble. He opened holes for running back Elijah Molden, who was Alex’s best friend and played defensive back at Washington before he was selected in the third round (No. 100 overall) in the 2021 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans.
A three-star recruit, Forsyth was the No. 49 offensive tackle in the 2017 recruiting class and the No. 4 recruit in Oregon (two spots behind Molden). After his junior season, he started to collect several scholarship offers from programs like Colorado State, San Diego State and Oregon State. Growing up, Forsyth attended several Oregon games at Autzen Stadium with his father and dreamed of becoming a Duck. He considered Cal, Michigan and Washington, but he committed to the Ducks shortly after Oregon offered him the scholarship. Forsyth took advantage of the extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic and returned for a sixth season in 2022. He accepted his invitation to the 2023 Senior Bowl, but had to withdraw because of a shoulder injury.
Forsyth is already 24 years old making him the oldest Bronco draftee since Garrett Bolles, who was 25 when drafted, but the Broncos have actually made it a habit recently of drafting 24 year-old players. Besides Alex the Broncos have drafted thirteen other players in the last eleven drafts who were 24 when drafted. Here are the other 13
- Eyioma Uwazurike
- Luke Wattenberg
- Faion Hicks
- Marquiss Spencer
- Justin Strnad
- Derrek Tuszka
- Dalton Risner
- David Williams
- De’Angelo Henderson
- Devontae Booker
- Taurean Nixon
- Matt Paradis
- Sylvester Williams
Surprisingly it is fairly common for 24 year old players to get drafted; eleven of the 258 players drafted this year were 24, including first round pick Will McDonald. Third round selection QB, Hendon Hooker, was 25. Believe it or not, there have actually been 95 players drafted this century who were 25 or older when drafted. Chris Weinke holds the record for players drafted this century. He was 29 when drafted. Fellow QB Brandon Weeden was 28.
The Broncos drafted 26 year old RB Mike Anderson in 2000 (although technically that was last century). The Broncos also drafted 26-year old center Phillip Blake, who never played a snap in the NFL. In 2004 the Broncos used a 7th round pick on 25-year old QB Matt Mauck. Unlike Blake, Mauck actually played a smidgeon in the NFL starting one game for the Titans in 2005. Anderson and Blake are the only two Bronco draftees to be drafted at the age of 26. Anderson had been in the Marines. I don’t remember why Blake was so old when playing college football.
Unfortunately for us, Forsyth may have been able to play as well as he did in college because he was older than the defenders whom he was tasked with blocking. NFL players reach their peak strength/stamina at the age of 26 or 27.
This could mean that Forsyth will never be able to compete at the NFL level, or it could mean nothing. Since the merger there have been 179 offensive linemen drafted at the age of 24 or older and some of them have turned into really good NFL players.
Andrew Whitworth was 24 when drafted. So was former Bronco, Ben Hamilton. Sebastian Vollmer was 25. Former New Orleans Saint All- Pro, who played for Sean Payton, Jammal Brown, was 24. Former first round pick and three time Pro Bowler, Kyle Long, was 24. As was five time Pro Bowler, Andrew Gurode. So being 24 does not automatically mean that Forsyth will fail in the NFL, but there are probably five failed “old” OL draft picks for every one successful one. Blake is one of 12 “old” OL draft picks who never played in an NFL game.
Interestingly Alex Forsyth is one of thirteen offensive linemen drafted this year who are 24 years old, two of whom, Cody Mauch and John Michael Schmitz, were drafted in the second round.
One thing that Forsyth has going for him is the lack of talent at the center position currently on the Bronco roster. Lloyd Cushenberry III has been one of the worst, if not the worst, starting center in the league over the last three seasons. Since we was drafted by the old front office to play for coaches who have long since departed the Broncos, I would not be surprised to see him lose his starting job.
While it’s possible for Forsyth to be that guy who take’s LC3;s starting job, it’s a very long shot.
Rookies can start at center in the NFL, but it is much rarer than other OL positions. It is rarer still for rookies starting centers to play well. The guys who can do that are usually high draft picks like Creed Humphrey (63rd pick) or Tyler Linderbaum (25th pick).
There were 36 centers last year who played 500 or more snaps and below are their 2022 PFF grades. You’ll note that LC3 was outplayed by a rookie last season, Tyler Linderbaum, but he did outplay Luke Fortner (65th pick) who was a also rookie starting center last season (for Jacksonville). I could not find a recent instance where a day three pick started and played well at center as a true rookie (same year they were drafted or would have been drafted for UDFAs).
|Rank||Center||2022 PFF grade|
|32||Lloyd Cushenberry III||56.2|
Based on when he was drafted, I have to assume that Forsyth would play comparably to the 40.2 overall grade put up by LC3 as a rookie. LC3 was the worst starting center in the league as a rookie. But given who poor that LC3 has played, it will not take much to unseat him as the Bronco starting center. Even in his best season (by PFF) which was 2021, LC3 only got an overall score of 64.2, which would have made him an average center in 2022.
As an extremely late 7th round pick, Forsyth could end up like Phillip Blake, never playing a down in the NFL, or he could end up like PJ Mustipher’s brother, Sam, who went undrafted but made himself into a decent NFL center. Sam, as an undrafted rookie, outplayed LC3, at least according to PFF. Sam got an overall grade of 58.9 as a rookie in 2020 for the Bears. Although calling Sam a rookie is somewhat of a stretch. Had had been drafted it would have been in the 2019 draft. Sam spent the entire 2019 season on the Bears practice squad.
The practice squad is most likely where Alex Forsyth will find himself this season. If Alex plays snaps for the Broncos this season it’s either a very good thing or a very bad thing.
It could be a situation like what happened with Luke Wattenberg last season where he should have been spending time on the practice squad, but because of injuries he was forced to play NFL snaps where he was made to look like the overmatched rookie that he was. I fear the same would happen to Alex this season if he were forced to play.
That being said, if Alex outplays all of the other centers on the roster to the point where he is a better option than LC3, we might have found ourselves a gem. None of the recently drafted Bronco centers have been ready to play as rookies and I’m including LC3. Both Matt Paradis and Connor McGovern were given a “redshirt year” and which LC3 and Whataburger should have been given in my opinion. Both played out of necessity and played poorly.
What do you expect Alex Forsyth to do in 2023?
This poll is closed
start for the Broncos
make the roster and play a little but not start
most the roster but never be game-day active
make the practice squad
spend the season on the practice squad for another team
fail to make an NFL practice squad