Denver Broncos: Long-term offensive line projections
Heading into the 2021 NFL season, the Denver Broncos have three spots on the interior offensive line, but as many as five potential starters.
The Denver Broncos have a good problem on their hands. They actually have a surplus of quality interior offensive linemen.
I know, it sounds crazy, right? The Denver Broncos offensive line has been a weaker group for a while now, but last year, the unit seemed to turn a corner. Garett Bolles signed a $68 million extension, and players like Dalton Risner and Lloyd Cushenberry are oozing potential.
However, the team might not be able to keep all of the quality linemen on their roster currently.
As it stands now, the offensive line to begin the 2021 season is projected to be Garett Bolles, Dalton Risner, Lloyd Cushenberry, Graham Glasgow, and Bobby Massie.
Notable players left off the starting lineup are Netane Muti and Quinn Meinerz.
Looking at this situation in a long-term view, it’s worth wondering how the interior will look even one year from now.
Netane Muti has had a very good offseason, and Quinn Meinerz is slowly coming along. Meinerz started his first offseason in the NFL switching to center, which has gone just okay, but the Wisconsin-Whitewater product got some run at guard in the Broncos’ first preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings, and he played very well.
Netane Muti saw a chunk of action last year, and overall, seemed to hold his own. In the Broncos’ first preseason game, Muti played very well and was blocking other grown men with one hand at one point.
Both Muti and Meinerz have starting potential and, in my opinion, high ceilings, so I can see each player being a full-time starter come next season.
In fact, both players will probably start a game or two this year.
However, there are only three spots along the offensive interior, and I have barely mentioned Dalton Risner, who the team loves, and Lloyd Cushenberry, who has had a much improved second year with the team.
Graham Glasgow is the other factor here, but he’s on a large contract, is the oldest of the bunch along the interior, and is very likely to not be on the team next year, so I’m not factoring him that much in this piece.
He’s a very solid player, but the Denver Broncos have four other guys who have as much skill as he does, and they’re all still on rookie contracts.
Going forward, how will the Broncos’ interior offensive line look, and who will be the odd man out?
Let’s start with the left guard.
Netane Muti has seen a majority of his NFL action at left guard, but Dalton Risner is in the team’s long-term plans, so Muti’s best crack at starting is probably on the right side, and seeing as Graham Glasgow is on a large contract, Muti should have a clear path to the starting unit.
The center position is where it gets interesting, in my opinion. Quinn Meinerz has been playing mostly center during his first Broncos offseason, but as I stated before, got some run at right guard in the preseason game.
Guard is his natural position, but with both starting guard spots filled by Risner and Muti, I would guess that Meinerz continues to polish his skills at center learning under Mike Munchak.
Broncos’ fans might remember former draft pick Connor McGovern, who was drafted to the Broncos as a guard but converted to center before leaving for the New York J-e-t-s last offseason.
It appears that Meinerz is going to be on the same path as well. I would never question the expertise of Mike Munchak, so if he and the rest of the coaching staff think Meinerz can convert to center and be effective, then I support it.
The last piece of this puzzle is Lloyd Cushenberry, our current starting center. Cushenberry struggled quite a bit last year, and that could be why the Broncos drafted Meinerz, but “Cush” as we like to call him, has improved this camp and looks poised to solidify the starting center position.
In my opinion, Meinerz was the better prospect coming out of college and has a higher ceiling, so it may be a matter of time before “The Belly” overtakes Cushenberry for the starting spot.
An interior line of Risner, Meinerz, and Muti would be absolutely devastating for opposing defenses. All three players are incredibly strong at the point of attack and play with a mean streak.
Cushenberry, if I had to guess, is the odd man out for the long-term outlook of the Denver Broncos’ interior offensive line.
When Connor McGovern left the team last offseason, he was a very solid center for the Broncos, and the team immediately filled the position in the draft with Lloyd Cushenberry.
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It seems like this exact scenario will eventually play out, as the recently drafted Quinn Meinerz will most likely overtake Cushenberry for the starting gig.