Positional Analysis for the Denver Broncos: Offensive Line


Aug 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos offensive lineman Orlando Franklin (74), Ryan Clady (78), and guard Louis Vasquez (65) during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 21-16. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

If the Denver Broncos are going to finally reach their goal of winning a championship, then two things must happen in the offseason. Peyton Manning must return and the offensive line must be upgraded. All indications are that the first thing will happen and that puts the onus on John Elway to make sure he is protected.

There are only two positions that are set going into 2015. Left tackle Ryan Clady had a down season for him in 2014 but was also still dealing with a lot of pain in his foot from a Liz Franc injury suffered in the 2013 season. He should be completely healthy by the time training camp rolls around and ready to dominate again.

Clady has already said that he is extremely comfortable in the zone blocking scheme and excelled in that system in his rookie season under Mike Shanahan.

The Broncos will also move Louis Vasquez back to his natural position of guard, and he should return to Pro Bowl form. Vasquez put the team needs first by agreeing to play right tackle for the second half of the season and he wasn’t terrible, but he’s more suited for the inside.

Orlando Franklin is a free agent and the Broncos should make a concentrated effort to re-sign him. After struggling early in the season with the transition to guard from tackle, Franklin was easily the Broncos best offensive lineman in the second half of the season. He is big but more than athletic enough to play in the zone blocking system.

If the Broncos are able to re-sign Franklin, then that leaves two spots that need to be drastically upgraded; center and right tackle. It’s possible the Broncos could re-sign center Will Montgomery but the guess is they want someone better at the position. Second year center Matt Paradis is an outside possibility but he is young and raw after spending all of 2014 on the practice squad.

Manny Ramirez and Chris Clark are both potential salary cap causalities and I’m sure most fans are ok with that. Of the two, Clark is more likely to stay because of his ability to play both tackle spots. Ramirez is a mauler and does not fit Gary Kubiak’s system at all.

The two young players to watch are Michael Scoefield and Ben Garland. Garland played some guard down the stretch and actually graded out pretty well but he projects as a backup right now. Scoefield is coming off of a rookie year where he was inactive for every game but there were some Broncos’ players who wondered why he wasn’t playing. Those same players said that Scoefield was dominating at times in practice. The second year right tackle will certainly get his shot at the starting job, but he probably needs another year before he’s ready for that type of responsibility.

When free agency opens on March 10th, the Broncos will be active again and they will be targeting offensive lineman.

The best right tackle on the market is Bryan Bulaga of the Green Bay Packers. He was hurt in 2013 but had a bounce back season in 2014. He figures to be Elway’s first call when the negotiating period begins on March 7th.

The more likely fit at right tackle is Derek Newton from the Houston Texans. Newton played for Kubiak with the Texans and is well versed in the zone blocking system. If forced to guess, I would say that Newton will be the Broncos starting right tackle on opening day.

If the Broncos were to lose Franklin in free agency, then Clint Boiling from the Cincinnati Bengals is a possibility. Like Bulaga, Boiling suffered and ACL injury two years ago but had a good season in 2014.

As for the center spot, the Broncos might look to a division rival for the answer. Rodney Hudson is the best center on the market and he’s only 25 year’s old. It would take a fair amount of money to get that deal done, but it’s about time the Broncos address the center spot for the long-tem.

Some other center names that the Broncos might consider for the center position include: Stefan Wisniewski, Samson Satele or Doug Legursky. Make no mistake though, the Broncos will sign a free agent center.

The Broncos will also address the offensive line in the draft and they may do it early. Most early mock drafts have them taking a tackle in the first-round and an interior lineman in the middle rounds.

Assuming Manning returns, the Broncos are primed for another run at a championship. They are strong at nearly every other position on the football field and if they can fix the offensive line in the offseason, then a deep run into the playoffs is very possible.

All free agency information provided by Sport Trac