This is the NFL offseason, the time between OTAs and training camp, when players flee to exotic landscapes for one last vacation before the hard work continues, and when fans hope and pray they don’t see their favorite player’s name and “arrested” in the same sentence.

We often say that the NFL season never stops, and that’s mostly true, but if it ever did, it would be during these few weeks in June and July.

Fortunately, that gives us some time to regroup, take stock of the Broncos’ draft and free agent class, and look forward to training camp. In the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing positional previews three times a week in preparation for the franchise’s run towards a fourth championship.

The Broncos offense had a complete overhaul during this offseason, and the offensive guard position was at the center of it. After losing both veteran Pro Bowl caliber-starting guards from last year — Evan Mathis and Louis Vasquez — the Broncos look to rebuild from within and with young talent.

Projected Depth Chart:


Ty Sambrailo; 6-foot-5, 315 pounds; 2nd year

Max Garcia; 6-4, 309; 2nd year


Connor McGovern; 6-4, 305; Rookie

Sam Brenner (C/G); 6-2, 310; 4th year

Third String:

Robert Myers Jr.; 6-5, 335; 2nd year

Biggest Question: Will two second-year players be able to step into a full-time starting role and hold onto the job all year?

Sambrailo and Garcia, the two projected starting guards, have eight combined NFL starts, with only five at guard. Sambrailo, the Broncos second round pick in 2015, started the first three games of the season last year at left tackle before tearing his labrum and going on the injured reserve for the rest of the season.

Garcia, a fourth round pick in 2015 out of the University of Florida, started five games at guard last year, filling in at both guard positions.

One commonality between these two players is their versatility. At Colorado State, Sambrailo played every position on the offensive line, including both left and right guard. While Garcia did play some tackle at Florida, the majority of his time was spent at guard and center.

This offseason, the Broncos decided to shift Sambrailo to guard, where many draft “experts” said he would fit best in the NFL, and had enough confidence in Garcia to give him a shot at starting.

Potentially the biggest key for both players to hold on as starters will be for them to show that they can play in the Gary Kubiak zone-blocking scheme, which requires a lot of movement and athletic ability. If they can prove that they can fit this system at guard, then expect the coaches to allow more leeway for “rookie” errors and mistakes.

If not, then don’t expect to see them in the starting role, and it won’t be long until they are no longer Broncos.

Most-Important Player: Max Garcia

While neither guard is a lock to start, Garcia has a higher floor than Sambrailo, making him the most intriguing player on the offensive line.

Although Garcia only started five games last year during his rookie season, he played in 49 percent of the offensive snaps. While Garcia did have the normal rookie struggles, he did show promise and potential to be able to be a starting guard in the NFL.

With a full offseason under his belt, along with first team reps, the coaching staff expects Garcia to shake off the mistakes he made last season. Garcia has the potential to be a very good guard, especially in this heavy run offense, but his ability to get to the second level will be a major key.

Both guards will be the key to how good the offensive line is, but Garcia’s progression from a rookie to a starter will be the most important.

Surprise Player: Connor McGovern

The youngest player of the group, rookie fifth-round pick Connor McGovern, has a chance to be a very good guard for the Broncos down the road. The question with McGovern is will he get a chance this year, or will it be a year or two in the future?

Although he is a rookie, McGovern is the strongest player of the group, and potentially on the team. At Missouri, McGovern broke the school record by squatting 690 pounds five times, and although weight room strength doesn’t always translate to the field, his scouting report says it does.

Along with his strength, McGovern fits the Kubiak zone blocking system very well, because he can get to the second level and has great footwork. While he is still the backup going into this season, if Sambrailo or Garcia struggle, don’t be surprised if McGovern gets a shot to take one of their jobs.

The Broncos think very highly of McGovern, enough so that he could be the primary backup for either guard position during his rookie year.

Grade: C

If Sambrailo or Garcia do not evolve into starting guards like the Broncos hope, and McGovern isn’t ready to start as a rookie, don’t be surprised if the Broncos pick up a veteran starter late in training camp/preseason, much like last year with Mathis. The Broncos hope that they have the right players now, but this position is so unproven that it is very possible that the Broncos could resort to this.

With all the unknowns, it’s hard to rate this as a position of strength. However, there is potential for this group to evolve during training camp and preseason to prove that they are above average. But there is also the chance it could go the opposite way as well.