Denver Broncos: Bobby Massie can be an upgrade at right tackle
The Denver Broncos left the 2021 NFL Draft without any offensive tackle prospects among their 10 draft picks. Considering the depth of the offensive line in this class, that did come as at least somewhat of a surprise with the status of veteran Ja’Wuan James clearly in a state of limbo.
General manager George Paton has stated this offseason that his expectation for James this season was to be the starter at right tackle and play well. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen as James suffered an Achilles injury and is likely to miss all or most of the 2021 season after opting out of the 2020 season and missing most of the 2019 season.
James’ injury certainly had a ton of Denver Broncos fans taking to Twitter, wondering in hindsight why Paton did not use one of his four selections in the first three rounds on the offensive tackle position.
Again, considering the depth of the class in general, it was a fair question anyway, but the injury to James perhaps highlights (in a not-so-good way) why Paton maybe should have been a little more aggressive in pursuing a tackle. Not that he should be unhappy with the players he selected, but a fair questioning of the process, nonetheless.
At any rate, James’ injury was anything but fortuitous, but it came at a time where the Denver Broncos seemingly had a rare opportunity to upgrade through free agency at the post-Draft rate, which is always team-friendly.
The Broncos brought in veterans Dennis Kelly, Bobby Massie, Jermaine Eluemunor, and Cameron Fleming for visits/workouts, and ultimately ended up signing Massie to a one-year deal.
Many may remember the Denver Broncos having significant interest in Massie when he was a free agent back in 2016. He had just come off of a solid four years with the Arizona Cardinals but Massie signed with the Chicago Bears.
With that in mind, Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio obviously will know him very well, having gone up against him in practices for three seasons before going up against him as an opposing coach in the Broncos’ 2019 matchup against the Bears.
A former fourth-round pick out of Ole Miss, Massie will be 32 this season and will have a chance to cash in after the season if he can do what seemingly no one else can — play the right tackle position consistently well for the Denver Broncos.
Massie has been a consistently average to above-average tackle in the NFL for a long enough period of time now that we can safely say the Denver Broncos are going to get a guy who will at the very least be competent out there.
One major factor here that needs to be considered is Massie’s missed time over the past two seasons, which was likely a large determining factor in his being ousted by the Chicago Bears.
Massie played in just 10 games in 2019 and just 8 games in 2020. Early in the Bears’ eighth game last year, Massie injured his knee and was considered questionable to return. The knee injury wound up landing Massie on injured reserve, and despite being designated to return late in the season, he didn’t end up playing again even with the Bears making the playoffs.
It’s sad that it’s to this point, but the Denver Broncos really can’t afford a lack of availability at the right tackle position more than anything. Demar Dotson coming in as one of the oldest veterans in the league last year and just playing solid was like a God-send for the Denver Broncos.
Although injuries happen and it’s not entirely up to Massie what happens on the field, he’s got to prove worthy of this one-year, $4 million contract by giving the Broncos consistency and availability.
George Paton and the rest of the pro scouting department also really need to make sure they got this one right. They passed on a guy in Dennis Kelly who played in and started all 16 games last year for the Titans.
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This is a massive signing for Denver and the pressure is going to be heavy on Massie not only to perform well but to stay on the field.