Back in 2008, the Broncos had great success drafting a giant offensive tackle. Ryan Clady (6’6″, 315 lbs.) came out of Boise State as one of the best steals in the draft. Drafted 12th overall, he was part of Denver’s best group of offensive linemen during his rookie year. Jay Cutler was sacked just 11 times in 16 games. I hear that during Cutler’s 52 sack season last year with the Bears, the only sweet dreams he had was of Ryan Clady and the Broncos’ 2008 offensive line.
Through 20 games, Clady had only given up half a sack. That was more than enough to secure him a spot on the Pro Bowl roster.
Before last season began, Clady injured his patellar tendon while playing in a basketball game. He partially tore the tendon which required him to have surgery and miss about 4 months of off season work. The effects of the injury were visible in his play last season. Now that Clady is finally 100%, the offensive line is looking much stronger.
In the 2011 draft, the Broncos were hoping to have similar success in drafting another big offensive lineman in Orlando Franklin. Franklin was selected in the 2nd round (46th overall) out of the University of Miami. At 6’7″, 330 lbs, the offensive line looks more like a version of a former Spurs team with Twin Towers, David Robinson and Tim Duncan.
The Broncos quarterbacks are a lucky bunch if the team’s plan on paper works out like it should. The right-handed quarterbacks have Clady protecting their backside while Franklin protects their frontside. The opposite is true for lefty, Tim Tebow.
Having the versatility on the line enables all quarterbacks to have more time in the pocket. It also creates space on both sides of the field for the backfield to get a good jump on the play.
It takes time for offensive linemen to develop, but Franklin is already impressing the Broncos coaching staff.
“I think he’s really grown,” John Fox said. “He’s a big powerful man as we knew when we were in the draft process. I think Dave Magazu (1st year Broncos offensive line coach) has done an excellent job with him. He just needs to keep improving.”
The tackle has great size and strength, and he’s a good athlete. He’s a very physical and aggressive blocker that’s great in the run game. However, coming out of college, scouts described Franklin as having poor instincts in that he has trouble locating assignments when the defensive line shifts at the snap of the ball.
Adjusting to the speed and size of an NFL defense takes time. We can’t expect the same quick results that we got out of Clady, but there’s good hope that Franklin will be a great lineman very soon.
Working on the offensive line is a dirty job. Credit for touchdowns are rarely given to these guys by the fans. Clady, Franklin, and the rest of the Broncos offensive line don’t need public accolades, however. They just need six up on the board.