After two consecutive trade downs in the third round of the NFL draft, George Paton finally made his selection at pick number 98. With that selection, the Broncos took a Division III guard, Quinn Meinerz, out of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
At Wisconsin-Whitewater, Meinerz dominated his level of competition. Routinely putting his opponent on the ground, he was simply too big and physical for his Division III peers. Building one of the best highlight films you will ever see from an offensive lineman, scouts would take notice.
But being from such a small school, Meinerz’s path to the NFL was improbable. That is until Jim Nagy invited him to the Reese’s Senior Bowl where he would have the opportunity to play against some of the best, draft-eligible, athletes in the country.
At the Senior Bowl, Meinerz would prove to scouts that he belongs in the NFL, as one of the stand-out performers in practice. He absolutely dominated the college all-stars, proving his success wasn’t a product of playing at the Division III level.
Showing tremendous power and versatility to play either guard or center, he quickly became one of the biggest risers of the event.
Wearing his jersey in a crop-top style, he stuck out from the rest of the players at the Senior Bowl and the media could not get enough. Ultimately becoming a fan favorite, Meinerz was gifted with the nickname “The Gut”.
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Listed at 6’3″ and 320 pounds, Meinerz would cement his NFL dreams at his pro day where he would post a ridiculous Relative Athletic Score (a metric used to measure an athlete’s overall athleticism using a composite of their pro day results) of 9.98 out of 10.
For the Broncos, Meinerz has all the tools needed to be a successful NFL player but may need time adapting to playing against the massive change in competition level. Under Mike Munchak, one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL, Meinerz is in an ideal situation to fast-track his development and become a productive player sooner rather than later.
Meinerz versatility on the interior offensive line should be well utilized for the Broncos. Now, starting center, Lloyd Cushenberry is going into his sophomore year but did struggle as a rookie. In particular, he had a tough time dealing with great power from opposing defensive lineman. If these struggles continue, Meinerz very well could be pushing for a starting job in the near future.
As of now, the Broncos have an amazing amount of depth throughout the interior offensive line. With how physical the position is, injuries come quite frequently, masking Meinerz a very valuable piece early in his career.
Though with four talented interior lineman on rookie deals, Dalton Risner, Netane Muti, Lloyd Cushenberry III, and now Meinerz, someone will have to draw the short straw.