Garett Bolles has long struggled, but is he finally turning the corner?
Ever since being drafted in the first round, back in 2017, Denver hoped he’d develop into the cornerstone left tackle Ryan Clady was for years. However, his play has been anything but All-Pro level for the first three years of his career.
It was so bad for Bolles early in the 2019 season that Denver Broncos fans called for him to be benched and/or cut. However, some of them may have not realized that in 2020 Bolles will be entering the fourth year of his four-year rookie deal. Simply, he’s not going anywhere and will be the starter at left tackle again next season.
Of course, the frustration from fans was warranted.
Bolles, picked No. 20 overall in 2017, has never lived up to his first-round pick billing. And, last offseason the Broncos brought in lineman whisperer Mike Munchak, who was supposed to whip Bolles into shape.
Instead, we somehow saw an even more lost lineman to begin the 2019 campaign.
Through the first 13 weeks of the season, Bolles racked up 14 penalties, allowed 21 quarterback hurries and four sacks. That included the dreadful, four-penalty game as part of Denver’s demise against the Chicago Bears in Week 2.
But, somehow, some way Bolles was able to kick it into gear over the last quarter of the season, where Pro Football Focus says he finally started shining.
From week 13 until the end of the regular season, Garret Bolles was the 2nd highest graded tackle in the NFL with a 88.8 grade
Picture credits: Ron Chenoy USA Today Sports pic.twitter.com/0P9dhvcR7z
— PFF DEN Broncos (@PFF_Broncos) January 15, 2020
Note: They responded to this tweet clarifying it was from Week 14-17.
Clearly, his pass blocking improved during the home stretch of the season. He was graded an 81 or better in four of the team’s last five games in the pass blocking category, giving up only two hurries and two QB hits along with three penalties. And the win over the Detroit Lions was far and away his top contest.
“We saw the best game of Bolles’ three-year career in Week 16, as he posted a 93.3 overall grade after not grading above 80.0 in any previous game,” Pro Football Focus wrote. “He remained clean in pass protection, allowing no pressure on 40 dropbacks, though he did have one holding penalty. Bolles was a monster in the run game, posting the most positively graded blocks among tackles this week, including a beautiful reach block on a 13-yard fourth-quarter run.”
When taking a step back and evaluating his entire season, Bolles’ pass blocking has greatly improved, even if there are some inconsistent games thrown in here and there. 11-of-16 games brought a grade of 70 or better, while his run blocking still needs a lot of work. There, only 6-of-16 games received a grade of 70 or better, which only represents a “passable” player.
Clearly, Bolles still needs to improve his consistency in the run game, but his pass blocking prowess is certainly impressive. It points to him finally turning the corner and becoming a legitimate starting tackle for the Broncos.
While a definite weak spot for Denver is on the offensive line, they should give Bolles one more shot at left tackle and try to fill in the other spots (G, T) in the draft this year.