Connor McGovern is rapidly staking his claim to a starting role

The Denver Broncos might have found one of the final missing pieces to solidifying their offensive line.

The Broncos’ offensive line has taken heat for several seasons now because of leaky pass protection that has hindered the offense as a whole. While right tackle might still be an area of concern heading into the offseason, the Broncos might have a new starting guard in second-year pro Connor McGovern.

McGovern was a 2016 fifth-round pick out of Missouri, who spent most of his rookie season as a depth player who never saw the field. Even this season, McGovern’s playing time has been relatively limited until recently. He had just 58 snaps to his credit in 2017 prior to Week 13, with 33 of those coming in the opener against the Chargers. Over these past three weeks, McGovern has logged at least 70 snaps per game.

Filling in for starting right guard Ron Leary, who was placed on injured reserve this week with a back injury, McGovern has played lights-out football in both run blocking and pass protection. McGovern’s solid performance comes after another quality outing last week against the New York Jets.

McGovern was a force in pass protection, bolstering the right side of the offensive line for quarterback Brock Osweiler.

While McGovern played well in pass protection, he made himself best known for his outstanding run blocking. The Broncos ran behind McGovern early and often, leading the way for running back C.J. Anderson‘s near-career day as the Broncos dominated the Colts’ defense for 213 total rushing yards.

McGovern will continue to start at right guard with Leary done for the season. The Missouri product has played well in Leary’s absence and might have played his way into a starting role moving forward. While Leary should reclaim his spot at right guard when he returns next season, McGovern may see himself in the conversation to start at left guard.

The Broncos have played most of 2017 with a rotation at left guard between third-year player Max Garcia and veteran Allen Barbre, who signed a one-year deal this past offseason. Neither one has played particularly well at left guard, which could open the opportunity for McGovern to compete for a starting job if he continues to play well over the last two games of the season.

While the offensive line has been one of the Broncos’ biggest areas of weakness over the past two season, the unit has slowly begun to take form. The Broncos already have two stalwart veterans at right guard and center in Leary and Matt Paradis as well as their left tackle of the future at left tackle in rookie Garett Bolles. Plugging McGovern in at left guard, brings the Broncos are ever so close to having an offensive line worth bragging about.