In the fourth installment of the series, we take a look at the “grinders” of the team, the offensive line. Arguably the most inconsistent and ill equipped position group of any on the team, the offensive line will be the subject of much debate and criticism this off-season.
Before we decide to cast off nearly all of them for their poor performance as a group in 2015, let’s take a look at each individual player and see how they could benefit the team (or not) moving forward.
Player: Max Garcia
Explanation: The first of three young “bricks” on the Broncos offensive line, Garcia was taken in the 4th round of the 2015 NFL Draft after he left the Broncos smitten by his high football IQ and passion
for the game in the pre-draft process. A versatile and experienced lineman, Garcia saw time at all positions on the offensive line throughout his college career at Maryland and later, the University of Florida.
Known as an aggressive and relentless blocker, Garcia applied his style of play for the Broncos this year with mixed results. Despite possessing the necessary attitude to succeed in a zone-blocking scheme, Garcia had his share of foul moments. For every positive play that Garcia would make, he would eventually have an equal amount of blunders, causing a handful of personal foul penalties.
Although there were times that he went too far with his aggressiveness, that’s a quality that’s not easy to find and shouldn’t be discouraged from a player’s repertoire. With a year of NFL experience under his belt, I expect Garcia to not only get better, but cement himself as one of the Broncos starting offensive lineman for years to come.
Player: Ty Sambrailo
Explanation: Like Max Garcia, Ty Sambrailo was highly coveted by the Broncos as a 2015 2nd round pick and was immediately thrust into the starting line-up after his selection. Due to an
unfortunate injury to LT Ryan Clady, Sambrailo was shifted over to protecting the QB’s blindside to start the 2015 season.
Sambrailo seemed to hold up fine for a rookie LT, but his season did not last long. After week 3 of the regular season, Sambrailo was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
Although the premature ending to Sambrailo’s season was a disappointment, not all was lost. In his short time in the starting line-up, Sambrailo showed steady improvement from game to game and gave the Broncos hope that he’ll be a starting caliber lineman for them when he gets healthy.
I don’t know if he’ll be back at LT when he does return, as his skill-set it better suited at RT, but he should be inserted back into the starting line up somewhere on that line. By all reports, Sambrailo will be back to full strength sometime around the start of OTA’s. I look forward to seeing Sambrailo’s growth and improved play, regardless of which position he plays.
Player: Matt Paradis
Explanation: Arguably the most improved player of the 2015 Broncos, Paradis went from a 6th round pick in the 2014 NFL draft who spent his entire rookie season on the Practice Squad to becoming the starting Center and playing every snap for the Broncos this Super Bowl season.
Paradis is the ideal lineman for the Broncos offensive system.
-Great football IQ
-Great work ethic
-Willing to get low for the necessary blocks
and I could go on, but I’ll stop there. Although he has some areas to improve upon, many fans see Paradis as potentially the best Broncos Center since the beloved Tom Nalen. Despite the numerous comparison’s between the two players, it may be a tad premature to compare the two players just yet.
Despite grading out as a below average center the first half of the season, Paradis flipped the proverbial switch and was fantastic in the second half of the regular season. To be specific, Pro Football Focus graded Matt Paradis as the best rated center over the last three weeks of the regular season. For all of the talk about the Broncos inconsistencies along the offensive trenches, Paradis proved to only get better as the season went on.
Regardless of whether or not he can take the late season momentum into the 2016 season, I love Paradis’ playing style and I’m confident that he will only further intrench himself in the Broncos future plans at the position. Gary Kubiak has made it clear that he prefers his offensive line to be young so they can grow together, as a unit. If that’s the case, I love Paradis’ chances of being the Broncos starting Center for many years to come.
Next: OL's to Mortar