While the Denver Broncos are knee -deep in offseason training programs, the team will look for the best five on the offensive line. The Broncos have plenty of options in almost every position, and with the new coaching staff, there could be a significant shake-up of what the starting five will look like compared to last year on the O-line.
The Broncos have fights in every position, and we’ll go around to cover them all. This includes projections for starters in each position, and depth, as we work toward a 53-man roster projection.
With that said, we jump on the offensive line and who the players are.
While the Broncos have a lot of competition in their O-line, the left tackle position has a cement starter. Garett Bolles had a good time in 2020 which saw him get a big extension, but his 2021 campaign came back almost to mean. However, Denver hopes he can get closer to the 2020 caliber of the player he cemented as the left tackle.
Dalton Risner is the incumbent starter on the left guard and is expected to win the starting job, but unlike Bolles, he is not cemented as a starter. However, there are a few options for the Broncos outside of Risner to go to to find the top five. These other options include Tom Compton and Graham Glasgow.
Compton and Glasgow are expected to be part of position fights for a number of O-line spots. Glasgow has the versatility to play in all three interior spots, and Compton can play two guard spots and be part of the competition on the right tackle.
There may be some sleeping options with Lloyd Cushenberry III, Quinn Meinerz, and rookie Luke Wattenberg, but they all seem impossible for the left guard. Cushenberry and Wattenberg will be part of the competition in the central area, along with Glasgow and likely Meinerz.
Meinerz looks like a right guard but can play center, which we get. None of the three appear to be a legitimate competitor for the left guard spot for such reasons.
So between Risner, Glasgow, and Compton, who has the best chance of winning a job here? It takes a lot for Risner to lose it, but his main enemy is likely to be Compton. Glasgow will join it, but he seems destined for center, right guard, or a deep piece.
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The center position competition is one of the most talked about O-line fights. It features incumbent starter Cushenberry, Glasgow veteran, and rookie Wattenberg. There may also be a surprise piece to this battle with the aforementioned Meinerz, even if it seems impossible.
Even if Denver drafted Wattenberg, he was a long shot to win the starting job at the center outside the camp. It takes some amazing performances during offseason, training camp, and preseason programs. However, he seems to be playing more after the 2022 season, with no injuries.
So the competition will definitely come down to Cushenberry, who don’t fit into the plot and made it clear the team wants it replaced, and Glasgow, who will be taller than what Russell Wilson wants to face at center. That’s why Meinerz can play, because he’s the one to be the compromise between the two because he’s not as tall as Glasgow and has better plan and player than Cushenberry.
The question is whether Meinerz can improve his snap enough for Wilson, among other areas he had to improve during his time at center last year. Of course, the coaching staff seems to prefer to keep an eye on Meinerz and only make this move to the center when absolutely necessary.
That left Cushenberry and Glasgow, and while Glasgow has worked as a center in the past, it has been around for a long time. This fight is more open, but Cushenberry seems to be the favorite to win it so far. More clarification will come in the coming months.
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If not moving to the center, it looks like Meinerz’s place. The coaches mentioned that he would keep the right watch, so a move to the center would not be possible. If that happens, it’s likely for Glasgow or Compton, with Glasgow being the favorite here after opening the last two seasons as a starter.
While Meinerz is not cemented as a starting right guard, he is as close to it as possible. In the end, Meinerz could be a line -up starter anywhere.
The fight on the right tackle than between Billy Turner and Compton. There will be an outside chance that Calvin Anderson will take the job, but he will have to take significant steps forward as a player, as he is set for the backup swing tackle spot. Even if Compton has a chance, Turner’s job is to lose.
Even if the fight isn’t a joke, because Turner has to do himself there, he’s clearly the home favorite to win the job. There seems to be a desire for Compton to get into the starting lineup, so he’s in left guard play.
If Anderson wins the job, it means Turner and Compton are a major failure of the teaching staff.
Planned Start Five
While there are many different ways it can be played, the Broncos ’offensive line starters now plan to:
- No tackle: Garett Boles
- No guard: Dalton Risner
- center: Lloyd Cushenberry III
- Right guard: Quinn Meinerz
- Right tackle: Billy Turner
The main areas of competition are left guard, center, and right tackle. Compton played for both of them, and Glasgow played center. So the odds are, starting at five includes some order from seven players. There is a lot of competition still to be done to find the start of the five.
Glasgow and Compton both offer a ton of versatility with the ability to play multiple spots on the offensive line. That versatility is highly valued in the modern NFL.
Anderson seems set to make the roster as a backup swing tackle, especially behind Bolles. Once Anderson got the field, he was always more comfortable working on the left side than the right side. That can limit him and is probably the most notable aspect to overcome to be part of the competition in the right tackle.
After three, the question is, how many offensive linemen do the Broncos keep on their roster? The safe number is 10, but with the versatility of many players, the team can remain with nine, or even eight, players. So for this, I have Denver hoarding nine offensive linemen, the last of which is Wattenberg.
The 10th man is set to be Ben Braden, who was only missed due to a lack of versatility to do more than watch. That means they Braden, Natane Muti, Quinn Bailey, Casey Tucker, and Denver’s two undecided signature free agents didn’t make it.
However, it is safe to expect that at least two of them will join the practice squad.
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