Connor McGovern may be the Broncos’ biggest offseason surprise

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 14: Head coach Gary Pinkel of the Missouri Tigers hugs Connor McGovern
KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 14: Head coach Gary Pinkel of the Missouri Tigers hugs Connor McGovern /

The Denver Broncos have seen Connor McGovern put together one of the best offseasons of any player on the team. His progression could be critical…

The importance of Matt Paradis to the Denver Broncos could not be overstated. Paradis put together the best season in the NFL in 2016 among centers, according to Pro Football Focus. Unfortunately for the Broncos and Paradis, his phenomenal season ended and a grueling offseason ensued, one that included surgery on both hips.

With Paradis on the mend and the knowledge he would not be 100 percent even by the start of training camp, the Broncos put the burden of responsibility on Connor McGovern, a second year player who had just come off of an essential redshirt year as a rookie.

A fifth round pick out of Missouri, McGovern has experience all along the offensive line, and his unbelievable strength and athleticism allow for that flexibility to be utilized by a coaching staff.

In the case of the Broncos, it was an easy call to make, putting McGovern in Paradis’ place while he recovered.

We haven’t seen him in any actual games, but the early returns on the job McGovern has done have been phenomenal.

"“Connor has done a great job. He’s carried us because Matt’s [Paradis] been out for an entire spring and some of training camp.Connor‘s done a great job playing center and now playing some guard. He’s competing for playing time. I’ve been really proud of him.”Vance Joseph (quotes via Broncos PR)"

New offensive coordinator Mike McCoy also praised the job McGovern has done this offseason:

"“Overall, very pleased with where Connor is and what he’s done. The leadership role he’s taken in our offense, our center, he has to do a ton. He’s going to set the front, set the direction for a lot of the things along with the quarterback, but we put a lot on their shoulders. The key thing is, what we’ve talked to you guys about before, is with those guys we have position flexibility. Where we’ve put him, he’s done an outstanding job, so very pleased with where he’s at right now.”Mike McCoy"

This kind of performance from McGovern is exactly what the Broncos needed. Last season, the depth on the offensive line was a major issue. With McGovern’s emergence this offseason going into his second year as a professional, the depth up front — at least on the interior — seems to be quickly morphing into a strength.

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Not only can McGovern play center, he can play both guard positions. The Broncos should feel confident about having him if they need more time for Paradis, and that was a major unknown at the start of the offseason.

We’ll get our first official look at McGovern with the starting unit on Thursday night against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.