The Denver Broncos youth movement along the offensive front hasn't gone as planned thus far. The unit has struggled, with young or inexperienced players as the culprits thus far.
Less than a week into training camp, the team has already shifted Chris Clark back to backup left tackle and Ryan Harris has been starting at right tackle. Rookie Max Garcia has been receiving the best reviews among first or second-year players along the line and has been working at left guard recently.
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The coaches are still trying to figure out the best combination of guys.
Ben Garland is a workhorse, Gino Gradkowski knows the offense and Ty Sambrailo was a high draft pick, but does that mean any of them should be starting? Garland made the move from the defensive line to guard just last season.
In 2013, Gradkowski was the worst center in the NFL. Sambrailo was drafted to start at right tackle. Another high draft pick is taking snaps with the second-team offense in Michael Schofield.
In what could be Peyton Manning's final season, can the Broncos afford growing pains on the O-line that is meant to keep him upright? When does it become time to seek a few solid veterans to help bring stability to the front? I contend that the sooner the team moves to address the line, the better.
There are a number of veterans on the free agent market that would represent upgrades for the Broncos right now. Of what's left, two names jump off the page—Chris Myers and Evan Mathis. Myers is a solid option at center who has been the standard in the zone blocking system. Also a great ZBS fit, Mathis was one of the top guards in the league last season.
Mathis was rated as the second-best guard in football last season by Pro Football Focus, rating a +25.8 in just nine games. Since becoming the Philadelphia Eagles full-time starter at left guard in 2011, Mathis has been arguably the best guard in the NFL. Since his release a couple months ago, he has been unable to land a new gig. This is more likely Mathis picking a good fit than a lack of interest in his services.
In 2014, Myers struggled through his worst season as a starter with Houston shifting to a more traditional, power blocking scheme. In 2013, Myers' last season under head coach Gary Kubiak, he enjoyed a strong season grading +16.4 overall by PFF. From 2009-2012, he was one of the top centers in football.
Myers also carries the added benefit of having played in Kubiak's offense for nine of his 10 seasons in the NFL. If ever there was a player who could come in and immediately upgrade a position for a team, it would be Chris Myers.
The Denver Broncos were extremely quiet in free agency this offseason, especially in comparison to seasons past. With the recent Britton Colquitt agreement, the team has found a way to free up additional cap space.
In 2014, the Broncos went into training camp with just over $5 million in available cap space. This season, they carry over $8 million in available cap, enough to make a splash or two in training camp, while preserving between $4 and $5 million for injuries and to carry over to 2016.
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