Broncos may finally unleash The Belly against the Ravens

Denver Broncos rookie Quinn Meinerz. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos rookie Quinn Meinerz. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos got a glimpse in week three, but they may finally be able to unleash Quinn Meinerz, aka “The Belly” in week four vs. Baltimore.

The Denver Broncos have seen their top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft — cornerback Pat Surtain II — become a starter on the defense and notch an interception in just his second NFL game. They’ve seen second-round pick Javonte Williams as a runner, receiver, and pass blocker, and he also scored his first NFL touchdown in week three against the Jets.

In week four against the Baltimore Ravens, it might be time for The Belly.

The team’s third overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, third-round pick Quinn Meinerz, could make his NFL starting debut on Sunday as the Broncos take on the Ravens, after making a brief appearance in relief of Dalton Risner in a week three victory over New York.

The Broncos, as it turns out, could be without both of their starting guards (Risner, Graham Glasgow) against the Ravens.

Denver Broncos may unleash Quinn Meinerz, The Belly, vs. Ravens

While it’s certainly not ideal to be without two starters at any position, it’s especially upsetting for two starters to potentially miss time on the offensive line. The Denver Broncos have simply not had continuity up front offensively in recent years and it’s, at times, been detrimental for the offense.

However, this situation is not the same as in years past.

When starters have gone down in previous years, the Broncos have not had top-flight prospects waiting in the wings behind them.

Now, they do.

The team obviously really loves Netane Muti, who would have been a day two pick in the 2020 NFL Draft had it not been for injuries at Fresno State.

Meinerz played college football at Wisconsin-Whitewater, and got an invitation to the 2021 Senior Bowl after the pandemic wiped out his final collegiate season.

He did not disappoint when going up against the best seniors in the country.

Meinerz had an outstanding Senior Bowl performance, playing the center position with self-taught skills after playing the guard position in college.

He had some outstanding reps just like these in the NFL preseason as well for the Denver Broncos, and although he certainly wasn’t perfect, he carried that into his regular season debut against the Jets as well.

Not many rookie linemen can handle the strength, power, and quickness of a guy like Quinnen Williams, one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL.

Meinerz got him to the ground.

It’s not going to get any easier for The Belly, going up against the likes of Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams, and Justin Madubuike.

There might be no better trial by fire for a young NFL player, either.

The Broncos‘ decision to draft Meinerz was at the very least a curious one. Interior offensive line wasn’t thought to necessarily be a top need for the team, especially in the first three rounds of the draft, but Meinerz is a unique talent in terms of his size and athletic makeup and he certainly shined at Wisconsin-Whitewater as well as at the 2021 Senior Bowl.

Although he doesn’t have the time on task, Meinerz has the physical tools to excel early as an NFL player. Especially playing his natural position at guard instead of center, it will be fascinating to see how the rookie plays against the Cover 0 the Ravens like to run, the blitzes they send, and how he handles communicating with the rest of the offensive line in that regard.

The Broncos have not had the greatest success in the first three games of the season as far as winning at the line of scrimmage on offense. Although you hate to see the starters go down, it will be fascinating to see how well the rookie can do.