The Broncos have, realistically, three players competing for the left tackle job heading into training camp. All-pro outside linebacker Von Miller will have a big say in which of them earns the starting job.

Many fans will line up at UCHealth Training Center rooting for 2017 first-round draft pick Garett Bolles. The former Utah left tackle was widely seen as the most athletic tackle in the draft and was the pick for the Broncos all along.

During the majority of OTAs, Bolles has lined up with the second-team offense as he adjusts his game to the speed and talent of the NFL.

In terms of talent, head coach Vance Joseph reassures that Bolles has the tools to be succeed in the NFL as he makes progress on learning an NFL offensive system:

“He’s made a lot of progress,” Joseph said during the offseason training program. “It’s a tough spot to play as a rookie, and it takes a lot of football IQ to play that spot in the NFL. When he knows what to do, he can block his guy. His talent shows. The ultimate issue is knowing what to do and how to do it, but he’s a first-round pick for a reason. He’s a talent.”

For Bolles to start for the Broncos on day one, he will have to beat out to veterans on the roster in Donald Stephenson and Ty Sambrailo. Both veterans had been splitting the first-team reps in OTAs, which garnered mixed results when facing the first-team defense.

What the Broncos need most from their 2017 starting left tackle is someone who can best protect the quarterback.

Playing in the AFC West, the Broncos will face Khalil Mack, Joey Bosa and Justin Houston twice each each in their 16 game schedule.

The best way to simulate the pressure these three pass rushers will produce is none other than Miller, who will line up against these tackles all throughout training camp.

One of the key factors to watch is who can slow Miller down in practice, just enough to let the quarterback get the ball off. Whichever tackle can produce the best results against one of the league’s best pass rushers will have the best chance of reproducing that kind of protection against the fierce pass rush of the AFC West.

Granted, some of the league’s best tackles can’t handle the Vonster, so asking the Broncos’ trio of left tackles to do it in practice is asking quite a bit. Nonetheless, if the Broncos are going to make the playoffs, success at left tackle is going to be crucial.

Going against the league’s best in practice and training camp will not only accelerate the growth of the Broncos’ left tackle of the future, it’ll provide insight as to who is most ready to handle the task of protecting the most important position on the Broncos’ roster.