Broncos Country is unsettled.
Actually, Broncos Country might be bordering on angry.
Some of it is justified and some is not. But once Garett Bolles was selected by the Denver Broncos 20th overall in the NFL Draft, everyone established an opinion on the validity of the pick.
Understanding why the Broncos selected Bolles is important for fans hoping to move on from those unsettled, borderline angry feelings.
Part of this is simple and part is complex. The simple part is that John Elway needed to draft a starting-caliber left tackle because he doesn’t currently have one on the roster. Sure, Ty Sambrailo and Donald Stephenson have experience at left tackle, but the prospect of running either of those players out to start the season would leave most of the fan base concerned, at best.
The complex portion that should make most fans angry is that the need to draft a first-round offensive tackle was self inflicted. Misses at that position in John Elway’s previous six drafts, as well as free agency, has led the Broncos to the necessity of a reach in the first round. Despite what the Broncos draft board says, there were opportunities with the 20th pick to select a player with higher upside and, right or wrong, John Elway passed.
“There was no question that we had discussions about the different options that we felt like we were going to have,” Elway said. “We still felt Garett was going to be that guy.”
Bolles could be a good player for Denver. He may even be great, but it doesn’t change the fact that the reason he was selected as the first offensive lineman off the board had more to do with the Broncos’ previous misses than “getting their guy.”
The fact is, Elway and the Broncos went into this year’s draft with Bolles rated as one of, if not, their top guy based on draft position. The only decision they really had to make was whether they needed to move up or stay put to acquire him. There’s nothing wrong with fans being disappointed or frustrated with the Broncos selection of Bolles; however, there is a possibility that this works out to be a very important draft selection… if he starts.
“The best player should play,” Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said Thursday night. “Obviously, he’s a first-round pick and is going to come in and compete for that job, but he has to win that job and the best guy will play. He was drafted here for a reason.”
If Bolles can’t beat out Sambrailo or Stephenson at left tackle, the Broncos will likely be back in the same position they have been in for the past couple years: Needing quality starters at multiple positions along the offensive line. During those seasons, Denver was able to duct tape an offensive line together through free agency, but that method always has a shelf life. Eventually, every team has to hit on offensive line draft picks and thus far, it is a concept that has mostly eluded John Elway and his staff. Sure, Matt Paradis has been a hit. After that, the closest to a hit we could attempt to have a discussion about is Orlando Franklin and possibly Michael Schofield (ducks). Meanwhile, the best offensive line in the NFL resides in Dallas where ALL of their starters are draft picks. See the difference?
Bolles is a necessary investment in the future and provides hope of a good offensive line someday in Denver. The last time the Broncos selected an offensive lineman in the first round of the draft was in 2008 when offensive Ryan Clady was selected 12th overall. Broncos fans can only hope Bolles has a similar impact through the early portion of his career the way Clady did when he was a four-time Pro Bowler between 2009 and 2014.
The first step in moving past frustrations with the selection of Bolles is acceptance. Once Broncos Country accepts that John Elway made his primary focus the acquisition of Garett Bolles in the first round of the NFL Draft, the sooner they can move forward and hope Elway is ready to add some playmakers to this team.