John Elway Found a Howard Griffith in Andy Janovich
The fullback position is a dying breed in the NFL; however, Gary Kubiak and the Broncos have been in search of one for the past couple seasons.
Peyton Manning’s offenses eliminated the use of the fullback in his four years in Denver and were the best years as a Denver Bronco since John Elway, but the urgency at fullback has been a need since the Ravens playoff game in 2012. Jacob Hester was the fullback then, yet lacked the punch to get the first downs when faced with short yardage situations. Broncos had Peyton Hillis, but the due to injuries, Hillis saw significant time at running back. James Casey and Joe Don Duncan were added last year to compete at fullback, yet that never materialized.
“We have some two-back in what we do offensively. Obviously with [TE/FB] James [Casey] last year, he had some injuries and some things didn’t work out,” Kubiak mentioned in the end of the NFL Draft press conference.
Juwan Thompson has been a popular pick at fullback for the Denver Broncos and rightfully so; however, the likelihood of that happening is next to none anymore. The Broncos seem to view Thompson as more of a running back than as a fullback, but due to his size, he could have filled that role. Now with the addition of Andy Janovich, the possibility of Thompson at fullback has now lost steam. Janovich is as true fullback in every sense of the word. Elway and Kubiak have themselves an old-school thumper like Howard Griffith, who served as the Broncos fullback for both Super Bowl victories.
Time will tell if Janovich has a one-handed catch in the Super Bowl like Griffith, but Janovich will be one of the few draft picks to not be redshirted in the first season with the team. Janovich was a former walk-on at the University of Nebraska and saw his production reach new limits under new head coach Mike Reilly in special teams and in the run game. Janovich was a weapon.
The Broncos clearly showed heavy interest in Janovich trading their 157th pick and 253rd pick to the Tennessee Titans for their 176th pick to take Janovich.
Broncos did the exact same thing last year, but lost out on the fullback the team clearly wanted in Aaron Ripkowski. Therefore, Gary Kubiak, John Elway and the rest of the Broncos staff are ecstatic to have Janovich on the roster.
“I feel very fortunate to get this young man. He did a great job in Nebraska. He catches the ball well. He’s very physical and our special teams got so much better today,” Kubiak on drafting Janovich in the sixth round.
Janovich is a hunter in the state of Nebraska and will be asked to hunt and use his tremendous strength to fend off defensive linemen and linebackers to protect the quarterbacks or clear lanes for the running backs. He can all the above as a fullback and can carry the load as a runner. Janovich has shown the ability to take it to the house, but that will be rarely seen and yet more exciting if it does happen at the next level. Cory Schlesinger, a fellow Cornhusker is a player Janovich emulates and has lasted 13 years as a fullback in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. It is unclear, if Janovich will last that long, but Nebraska has a history of producing terrific fullbacks.
John Elway and Gary Kubiak have now found their fullback like Howard Griffith in Andy Janovich.