Entering free agency on Tuesday, it was perceived that the Denver Broncos would target offensive linemen to fix the team's weakest position group from the 2014 season. So far, there has been very little chatter of the team's interest in free agent linemen, a fact that seems troubling at the very least.
As John Elway and Gary Kubiak have commented recently, the team thinks highly of Michael Schofield and Matt Paradis, as well as Ben Garland, a former defensive lineman who is entering his second year as an offensive guard.
If the season started today, the Broncos would start Garland at left guard, Paradis at center and Schofield at right tackle--a grouping that inspires little confidence as currently constructed. Garland is strictly a guard, Paradis has the ability to play center and guard, while Schofield has the ability to play right tackle and guard.
The three players are the proud owners of 47 snaps of NFL experience along the offensive line, all of which belong to Garland. Again, the group does not instill much confidence, as Paradis was a practice squader last season, Schofield was inactive for every single game, and Garland was inactive for seven games, to go along with his 47 offensive snaps.
The other option along the offensive line, someone who may potentially be given another shot to pick up a different position, is Chris Clark. Clark started games at right tackle for the first time in his career in 2014. The team also has Paul Cornick at tackle, who may given a chance to start again after an inconsistent and injury-riddled season.
Even more worrisome is the fact that the 2014 offensive line was not the model of consistency. The team used multiple different line combinations, including moving center Manuel Ramirez to right guard, and right guard Louis Vasquez to right tackle. Even with such flux, none of the three lineman mentioned were given a shot to compete for playing time, not even Schofield, a third round pick a season ago.
Having confidence in your players under contract is great. Counting on players you have developed is fantastic. Doing so when trying to win a Super Bowl, without a proven track record from said players, is questionable. While at the onset of free agency the Broncos have yet to pursue any offensive lineman, outside of Chris Myers, it should be noted that the team will likely bring in a few options.
There is a scheduled visit with Shelley Smith, to go along with the interest in Chris Myers and the team's interest in bringing back Will Montgomery. I still believe Montgomery, Myers and Ryan Harris are players that will be wearing orange and blue this upcoming season.
While many have full confidence that the needs along the offensive line will be met in free agency and the draft, the team's seeming lack of urgency is a troubling start to the Broncos offseason.
FREE AGENCY POSITIONAL PREVIEWS
OFFENSE: Quarterback | Running back | Tight end |
Offensive tackle | Offensive guard | Center
DEFENSE: Defensive tackle | Defensive end | Outside linebacker |
Inside linebacker | Safety | Cornerback
SCOUT.COM FREE AGENT RANKINGS
Position: QB RB FB WR TE OT OG C DT DE OLB MLB S CB K P LS