We all know that the Denver Broncos are in need of immediate help at the offensive tackle position. Unfortunately, the 2017 NFL Draft class doesn’t have an abundance of prospects from which to choose.
That doesn’t mean that the Broncos won’t be able to find their offensive tackle of the future. It just means that they may have to look a little deeper, and develop what talent that they do find. The NFL is full of later round draft choices that have turned into dominating offensive linemen. Even in Denver, some of the best offensive linemen have been the result of a late-round draft pick.
Long-time center Tom Nalen was selected in the seventh round of the 1994 draft. Keith Bishop was a sixth rounder, and played nine seasons in Denver. Bill Bryan was taken in the fourth round in 1977. He played 12 seasons at center for the Broncos.
There may be some offensive linemen in this draft that are worthy of taking a chance without using a first-round pick. Here is a look at some of the best possibilities.
Antonio Garcia, Troy
He is a former basketball player, and those quick feet transition nicely into the offensive tackle position. Garcia is more than capable of staying in front of the most athletic pass rushers.
His lateral movement would translate into being a much higher pick, if not for his thin frame. Garcia is listed at six-foot-six, and 302 pounds, but he struggles to keep that much weight on, and is more accurately around just 290 pounds.
At that weight, he would struggle to fend off the power rushers of the NFL. He was a three-year starter at Troy, and was named first-team all-conference in the Sun Belt, in his final season. If he can carry more weight and get stronger, he could be a nice pick in the second or third round.
David Sharpe, Florida
On the other end of the size spectrum, is Florida’s David Sharpe. He is a physically imposing specimen, at 6-foot-6 and 343 pounds, and his arm length is over 35 inches.
Sharpe is not going to be bull-rushed, and his strong hands can fend off would-be rushers, while controlling them effectively. His issue will be his lack of agility, and quickness.
Sharpe could be a powerful run blocker, but he doesn’t currently possess the ability to move on to the second level and block downfield. His pass blocking has struggled against the speedy pass rushers, but that size could make him tempting to take in the third or fourth round.
Zach Banner, USC
Banner is actually a little bigger than Sharpe. At six-foot-eight, he weighs in at 353 pounds, and has at times, ballooned up to nearly 400 pounds.
Banner spent most of his time at right tackle, and was named to the Pac 12 all-conference team twice. He is an intelligent player, and is reasonably athletic, considering his size. The concern might be, if he is willing to work hard enough to keep his weight in check.
If he gets into the right system, and dedicates himself to staying in shape, Banner has the size that would make him a monumental challenge for opposing defenses to deal with. If he is around in the third or fourth round, he may find himself coming to Denver.
Will Holden, Vanderbilt
He isn’t as athletic as NFL scouts would like, but Holden was a three-year starter at Vandy, and he is a powerful blocker that could make him a good mid-round prospect.
Holden stands six-foot-seven, and weighs in at 311 pounds, and has shown to be a very good run blocker. He would need time to develop into an adequate pass blocker, but Holden is a tough guy that is very solid fundamentally. He may not be athletic enough to play the left side, but with his power and drive, he could end up being a very good candidate to man the right side.
The Broncos may take a look at Holden, because of his strength, but the coaching staff would have to do some work to get him to be a true contributor.