A sound draft strategy for all teams is investing in the trenches. Whether it is the offensive or defensive side of the ball, spending draft capital year in and year out is a smart decision. It’s what successful franchises do.
Unfortunately, this is something the Denver Broncos haven’t done consistently in a long time. That’s especially true when it comes to offensive tackle. But could that change in 2024? I think that’s a strong possibility.
Right now, the Broncos are an 0-2 team with the possibility of being 0-3 after Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins. Their playoff odds are dwindling, but the likelihood of them securing a Top 15 pick appears to be on the rise. A majority of most teams who start out 0-3 wind up with 5 or 6 wins.
One culprit in Denver’s struggles to date is inconsistent play on the offensive line. Virtually everyone up front sans Quinn Meinerz has had some major issues early on in the year.
With that in mind for this installment of Future Broncos, I’d like to take a look at several offensive linemen in the 2024 NFL Draft that Denver should be scouting heavily as the college season progresses.
All-Pro Potential: Olumuyiwa Fashanu, LT — Penn State
Franchise tackles aren’t easy to come by and it’s been a while since the Broncos have had one of those. Unless you want to call Garett Bolles that. But I wouldn’t.
In fact, I think we would have to go back all the way to when the Broncos drafted Ryan Clady out of Boise State to find a player who meets that criterion. And oddly enough, there is a player out there who does remind me of the long-time Bronco. Someone Denver should seriously consider if they somehow tumble themselves toward a Top 5 draft selection.
He may have only been a three-star prospect as a recruit, but Penn State’s Olumuyiwa Fashanu has impressed for the Nittany Lions and solidified himself as one of the nation’s best players regardless of position. I didn’t think the Broncos would have a realistic shot at drafting him, but if they don’t start winning and improve demonstrably, he should be within striking distance—especially if they earn a Top 10 selection.
At 6’6” and 321 pounds, Fashanu possesses the desired physical prototype for the position. Despite only a limited amount of starts in his career, he has solidified himself as premier pass blocker. He didn’t allow a sack in 542 starting snaps as a sophomore last season.
His utilizes his length advantage and demonstrates quality grip and hand placement for a young player. He is an above-average run blocker and needs improvement in this area. Getting stronger will help him be more of a foundation point of attack sustaining blocks. However, he is a tremendous athlete who can get to the second level effectively, which is a plus in that regard and shows promise for teams who get their tackles out on the move in the running game.
Fashanu isn’t even close to being the sum of all his parts but has the traits and mental makeup to become one of the league’s best tackles. The Broncos would be wise to do their diligence on him. He definitely tops my list of players to watch for the Broncos early on at tackle in the 2024 NFL Draft.
A Chip Off the Old Block: Joe Alt, LT — Notre Dame
Like Fashanu above, Notre Dame left tackle Joe Alt was also a three-star prospect coming out of high school. There were a lot of other players in his class ranked much higher. But that didn’t stop him from immediately securing the Fighting Irish’s left tackle job as a freshman in 2021.
Maybe that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Football is in his DNA. His father John played 13 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and was really good football player. And I have no doubts that Joe is going to be a pretty dang good one too.
In his first two years at Notre Dame, Alt played in 23 games and logged 1420 snaps at left tackle. In that time, he only allowed 10 quarterback hurries, 3 quarterback hits, and 3 sacks. That’s quite impressive considering the top-level competition he faced week in and week out.
He has a frame similar to current Broncos right tackle and Notre Dame alumni Mike McGlinchey, standing tall at 6’7” and 317 pounds. He definitely has the size to add more weight and strength to his frame. That’ll be a benefit to him in his future endeavors.
Compared to Fashanu, Alt’s a much more accomplished run blocker. He sustains his blocks well and finishes with grit and determination. He also plays with a lot of power but is a plus mover in the run game and can make those blocks on the move look easy.
Those factors coupled with his pass blocking prowess makes him one of this draft’s most well-rounded tackle prospects. A Day 1 starter at left tackle in the National Football League—and in my opinion—one of the safest bets in this year’s draft.
He is definitely a prospect you are going to want to watch. If he keeps on balling out, he will be a surefire Top 12 selection and someone the Broncos should consider.
#NotreDame LT Joe Alt has been dominant this year, especially in the run game (#76 casually blocking 30 yards downfield below).— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) September 22, 2023
But Ohio State's DL will be his toughest test in 2023.
Five NFL prospects with the most to gain in South Bend Saturday night: https://t.co/EwrijB5Uki pic.twitter.com/j2bnPqF5l2
Other Tackles to Watch:
JC Latham, Alabama
Graham Barton, Duke
Jordan Morgan, Arizona
Kingsley Suamatala, BYU
Broncos Country, do you believe offensive tackle is an option for Denver in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft? Who are some of your favorite prospects at the position? Let me know what you think in the comments section.