The Denver Broncos traded up in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft for Washington offensive lineman Luke Wattenberg. His pro arc could be a lot of fun.
Much to the dismay of many Denver Broncos fans, general manager George Paton didn’t use a single selection in the 2022 NFL Draft on an offensive tackle.
Actually, for the second straight year, Paton has decided to pass altogether on drafting an offensive tackle, and the Broncos even let go of their top prospect pickup at the position from 2021 — undrafted free agent Drew Himmelman — in recent weeks.
The team’s decision to pass on the two most recent prospect groups at the offensive tackle position is fascinating from an outside perspective, but equally fascinating is the only player besides Javonte Williams that Paton has traded up to acquire.
That player is fifth-round offensive lineman Luke Wattenberg out of Washington.
Luke Wattenberg is a versatile rookie for the Denver Broncos
Wattenberg played all over the offensive line in his time at Washington.
He started off at left tackle and slowly made his way to the inside, moving to left guard before playing the last couple of seasons as the Huskies’ starting center.
At over 6-foot-4, 299 pounds, Wattenberg is not built like a typical center prospect. His height isn’t overwhelming but puts him in pretty rare air at the position as centers are more often shorter, stockier players. Some may even call them “squatty”.
What really makes Wattenberg a unique prospect at the center position is his length. He has 34 1/8-inch arms and a wingspan of almost 82 inches.
Those figures put him in the 71st percentile among all offensive linemen, but it’s even rarer to see a center with over 34-inch arms.
Versatility is the name of the game in today’s NFL and there’s no question about the fact that the Broncos will want Wattenberg to be more than “just” a center.
Lucky for them, he is.
Physically and athletically, one of Wattenberg’s closest player comps in the NFL today is actually Denver Broncos left tackle Garett Bolles, believe it or not.
Another interesting comp for Wattenberg? It’s not a one-for-one, of course, but another interior lineman (center) with the versatility to also play guard or tackle coming from the college ranks recently is Green Bay Packers lineman Elgton Jenkins.
Jenkins, oddly enough, took an almost identical career path at the college level, starting at left tackle and moving in to left guard before settling at center.
Given the fact that the current staff in Denver has spent the last three years working with Jenkins, it really makes the acquisition of Wattenberg more fascinating.
Wattenberg could very well end up as the Denver Broncos’ starting center but he has the experience, length, and athleticism to excel in the NFL as a guard or tackle as well.
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We’ll see what the team’s plans for him are, but don’t be shocked if he ends up getting reps at the tackle and guard positions as a rookie.