Denver Broncos Plan and Thoughts part 5 – Depht at Offensive Line

I’m following my pre – free agency and pre – draft roster analysis.

This is the 5th part of the analysis of what the Denver Broncos could eventually do this off-season and I would like to dedicate this post to the needed depth at the several positions that in my opinion are not glaring need.


Offensive Line

Denver, IMO, has a good starting offensive line, young, nasty and improving.

Despite some people is saying that Zane Beadles is a liability at starting guard, I don’t agree. He was brilliant at time last year, and he has just two years of experience. Even more has to be said that this past year the entire offensive line, under coach Megazu, had to learn a entirely new system and the rushing offense ended up being the best one in the league, that is pretty amazing. So I don’t think the Broncos have to replace him (moving Orlando Franklin inside at guard in place of Beadles and finding a new starting right tackle), the Broncos could replace any of their offensive line starting personnel if they find someone that is better than them through free agency or draft, especially if they use the best player available in the draft and they have some of the OL prospect rated highly than the players already in the team. But replacing Beadles is not a need. He could still develop and shown good moments and actually a really good year with some flaws this past year.

What the Broncos need is depth at offensive line.

That could be done drafting OL prospects high in the draft and letting him competing for a starting role, or drafting in in lower round some player that will be trained and developed for future starting spots. Another option is to sign some flying under the radar free-agent that could fit Denver O-Line scheme.

Anyhow decision over O-Line situation is another really interesting point for better understanding what Broncos coaches think about the player already on the roster. I already said my opinion about the Broncos O-Line starter and I will chose continuity and start them all next year too. But the Broncos have an interesting situation with the O-Line back-up.

Russ Hockstein is a free agent; I don’t have any clue if the Broncos have interest on bringing him back. He played in the two playoff games, and was not miserable. On his side he has the versatility of playing both guard and center, on the flip side, he’s not the future of the organization and is a stop gap solution. But he could come back cheap. So in my mind he is an option, especially if he re-sign for the veteran minimum and with low signing bonus so that eventually he could be cut after training camp if better option will came out during OTAs and training camp.

Chris Clark is the third tackle on the roster. He has been used as additional tackle in a good number of snaps this past year. In some sites is listed as free agent, in other not, so I don’t know which his contract situation right now is. I think that even if he’s a free agent he will be brought back for cheap money and he will fight in training camp for a roster spot. I give a lot of importance at being in knowing already the system in place, especially for O-Line. He didn’t get much snap as RT or LT, so is up to Broncos coaches and their evaluation on him.

Tony Hills was and addition before the second week of the past season and he spent the most of Sunday in casual clothes. I’m wondering why they brought him in if not for trying developing some skills the coaches saw in him. After one year of scheme learning I’m interested to get any type of news about him during OTAs. He will probably battle for a roster spot during training camp.

Ryan Harris was a Bronco free agent last year who signed with the Eagles in the free agency but got hurt during training camp and didn’t make the final cut. He was out of football for the whole season until Denver decided to bring him back. This kind of movement for one side let me feel good, because I was a fan of him and I think that if healthy he could provide really good depth and option at RT, but on the other side let me wondering what the coaches think about Toni Hills and Chris Clark, why they need to sign a tackle when they had for the whole year other two on the roster practicing every week the O-Line scheme. As I said, if is healthy he could still play RT and push Franklin inside. Anyhow, I will keep Franklin out and let Beadles progress, but training camp will define what the Broncos have in Harris and which will be next year line-up.

Manny Ramirez was out of football in January 2011 when the Broncos signed him to a future contract. He made the team in 2012 probably due mainly to his 15 starts for the Lions and then played some snaps in both Broncos playoff games. He provided depth at guard and center to the Broncos. He spent the entire year in the backup role and learned the system. He will fight in training camp for a roster spot but does not look like as a potential starter.

Adam Grant is a mammoth tackle that spent the entire season in the Broncos practice squad. I don’t know how the Broncos use their practice squad team but I hope they try to develop those guys, Grant is one of my favorite p-squad players and I hope he will get a shot next training camp for an active roster spot. He has to show signs of development and basically the coaches have to believe that he could stay healthy, the main reason why he wasn’t drafted last year. I like the idea to develop future starters using practice squad, and I think that great organizations are using this team for that purpose, not just for have drill guys. Hope the Broncos are already working as a great organization.

All in all, O-Line starters are very young and show promises the most of the past year. I won’t touch the toy because I would like them to develop as a unit. What I do think is that the Broncos should bring in new bodies able to compete with the starters and push them. This is what, IMO, Denver was lacking and could improve through the draft, more than FA. Denver could draft O-Line help high (even in the 1st and 2nd Round) if they think the best talent is there or low (one of the two fifths round) but more pure talent is need. I could think in one or two guys from the roster developing as good backup, but I would like Denver to find borderline starters that could push the actual starters because in this moment I think the drop-off between starters and backup is huge (is the only logical reason for signing Harris for the playoffs game IMO).


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