Broncos Film Room: Examining the battle at left guard

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In a fairly easy win against the San Francisco 49ers that helped end the quarterback competition,  many questions remained on the offensive side of the ball for the Denver Broncos. None bigger than on the offensive line, a group that was guilty of penalties all game long and allowed a few too many pressures as well.

As the coaching staff is still trying to figure out the best five to put on the field Week 1, the left guard position seems to be most up for grabs, especially with the recent addition of Allen Barbre. The veteran guard, who arrives from the Philadelphia Eagles, made his case in the team's second preseason game and Max Garcia responded as both alternated playing time with the first and second units for the teams opening eight drives.

As a newer addition to the team, it was nice seeing what the 10-year veteran brings to the table, which is why we went back to track every play he had against the Niners. While we were at it, we did the same with Garcia. Below is what we found.

Barbre flashed 

Barbre was thrown into the game from the second series on and from there alternated drives with Garcia.

He was tested right off the bat, having to block one-on-one in pass protection and held his own against the 49ers two nose tackles Earl Mitchell and Chris Jones. Barbre didn’t necessarily look pretty doing it, but he got the job done. He doesn’t let go of his opponent and stays in front of his man with balanced feet and knee bend; he also shows strong hands as defenders typically didn’t disengage once he locked-on.

Then Barbre got going in the run game, where he looked impressive, particularly on the move. Early on, he trucked over a defender on a pull to the left, opening up a nice outside run for C.J. Anderson. Barbre’s ability to get out in space and make plays is crucial as a left guard as that’s one of the more important skills for a player on the left side. This is also a nice skill to have as Mike McCoy is expected to use more screens on the outside. Despite his age, Barbre still moves well. His ability to block on the move and be an asset on pulls and kick out blocks is a skill he seems much more suited to than Garcia who’s more of a natural mauler and right guard.

Barbre later impressed on a kick-out block that opened up a nice hole for DeAngelo Henderson to burst through for a nice gain.

Barbre also showed good initial pop as a run blocker, coming out of his stance with purpose and engaging defenders with authority. In a game that was far from perfect for many of the guys on the offensive line, Barbre was close to perfect - in the first half - and really showed his veteran chops. He seems to adapt to the position and also showed himself to be a good helper for left tackle Garett Bolles on double teams.

In the second half, Barbre remained in the game while Trevor Siemian stayed on the field and allowed a pressure up the middle and generally wasn’t as impressive. He allowed a pressure to his inside shoulder, off a quick swim move and then allowed a defender to slip by his outside shoulder as neither he nor backup left tackle Ty Sambrailo was able to contain the rusher. Barbre was also called on a very dubious tripping flag as he delivered a good looking cut-block to the second level.

Denver's new no. 73 has been a very solid guard in his NFL career while never truly being a full-time starter. The majority of his time as an NFL-regular has come in the last couple seasons where he started 28 games for the Eagles and only allowed five sacks. While that might not seem impressive, Pro Football Focus - who re-watches every snap and grades every player - ranked Barbre as the NFL’s 16th best guard, 15th best in run block, and 22nd in pass protection.  All figures that are significantly better than Garcia's.

Despite the second half drop-off, Barbre looked good in his second game as a Bronco. Flashing some skills as a run blocker makes him particularly appealing for the Broncos to upgrade their offense.

Garcia makes his case

Max Garcia wasn’t as impressive and didn’t have the flash plays that Barbre had on pulls or pass protecting in one-on-one, but he also didn’t have any major mishaps.

Garcia did create nice push down on the goal line - particularly on 2nd-and-goal. Once he was brought back into the game in the second quarter, Garcia mostly did a solid job double-teaming blocks in pass pro and getting to the second level on the few run plays that were called.

On the next drive, he stood out on one particular play, blocking at the second level and pushing off two defenders opening up a nice hole.

It wasn’t all good though, as Garcia was still utilized into the third quarter while the other starters were on the sideline already. On a 3rd-and-short run, he wasn’t able to hold his ground and allowed the play to be stopped, forcing Denver to punt on their final drive with Siemian out on the field.

The Broncos newest backfield member

As promised, Barbre isn’t the only new Bronco to watch for in the next two preseason games as Denver just added former Kentucky running back Stanley “Boom” Williams.

A standout in the SEC, Williams is a classic east-to-west type of runner with good vision and quick feet. He stands out for his ability to stutter step and then find a hole and explode.

Quicker than fast, Williams has the speed to win the corner on the regular and really stands out for his ability to stick his foot and take off, with impressive acceleration.

With diminutive size at 5-foot-7 and 197 pounds, Williams won’t run anyone over but shows good strength to stand up blockers and take on contact. Despite his size, he wasn’t used much as a receiver in college, which is surprising (28 receptions in three seasons). He is, however, a willing pass blocker who can, at times, be effective. However, his size is a concern, and he did get blown up from time to time against SEC defenders. All this makes his ability as a third-down back a bit of a question mark despite 'Boom' having the perfect profile for the position. He also hasn’t been used as a returner since 2014 where he was the Wildcats kickoff man and averaged 26.89 yards per return.

As a high-priority UDFA, he’ll be a long shot to make the roster, but the Broncos seem to be looking for another speedster to add to the offense. Williams brings a different dimension than Stevan Ridley but might be redundant with Jamaal Charles if he’s still his old self - he might be a bit of insurance for Charles in fact.

Henderson already shows improvements

DeAngelo Henderson was the star of preseason game number one and was heavily featured in our breakdown last week. But game-two might have been even more impressive.

One of the few areas in which Henderson needed slight improvement was his ability to hit holes at full speed and take off at top acceleration, something he didn’t seem to be doing against the Chicago Bears.

In game two, that issue didn’t show up, and he looked that much more dangerous because of it. Henderson was also used more in the receiving game this time around, showing more lateral quickness and the ability to make defenders miss in the open field. Already upgraded to being the primary backup while Devontae Booker's out, Henderson’s impact could be immediately felt. His skill set is very exciting and how he performs in the dress rehearsal that is the third preseason game will be very interesting.

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