On Sunday, the Denver Broncos waived running back Montee Ball and center Gino Gradkowski to make room for James Ferentz and tight end Mitchell Henry. For Broncos fans, not much is known about Ferentz.
He went undrafted out of Iowa in 2014 and was signed by the Houston Texans to compete in training camp. He was ultimately waived, spending time on their practice squad. They waived him again on Saturday.
At 6-foot-2, 278 pounds, Ferentz is smallish for a pro center, but in Gary Kubiak's zone blocking scheme, that can be a good thing.
“Ferentz—obviously, he's a good young player," Kubiak said Monday. "He reminds us a lot of [C] Matt [Paradis]. You know players in this league—you watch them. When we played them [Houston on Aug. 22], we thought he played very well. We liked the way he gets to the second level. He's undersized like Matt, but he plays a lot like Matt and all of a sudden he came on the wire. It's a chance we felt like to improve our team. We got a little younger and we think he can catch up real quick, so that's a good thing.”
Ferentz might be undersized, but as a coach's son, he's smart and has a high football IQ. His technical fundamentals are sound and he often can make up for his size limitations with athleticism.
In the zone blocking system, getting to the second level is paramount. Because of his size, Ferentz will always struggle against big power rushers. The Broncos will likely try to put a few more pounds on him to help develop a more NFL-appropriate body.
In the meantime, the former All-Conference senior will not see the field, unless the Broncos are struck with a slew of injuries. If something did happen to Matt Paradis, Max Garcia would likely be the first man up to replace him.
I like Ferentz's fit in the Broncos system. But I'm having a hard time seeing his value on the active roster, when Garcia's versatility would be a viable fail-safe in case of injury. I can't help but wonder if the roster spot would be better served on another inside linebacker.
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