Throughout the offseason, we’ll be profiling players who may end up in Denver when all is said and done with the 2017 NFL Draft. The Broncos clearly have plenty of holes to fill before they get back to Super-Bowl form and we’ll be examining a long list of players they may choose to help the franchise do just that.
Not everyone takes the same path to the NFL and this year’s top offensive tackles are a perfect example of that. You have Cam Robinson who’s a former five-star recruit and has started at Alabama since the moment he arrived on campus. Then there’s Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk who turned down offers out of high school and took some time before re-entering major college football and becoming an All-American in his first season. Garrett Bolles path is even more odd, as he battled a tough past off the field through his high-school years, going through the junior college ranks and then emerging as a star at Utah in his first season.
Now Bolles like Robinson and Ramczyk is firmly in the running as the top tackle in the 2017 NFL Draft and could be just what the doctor ordered to cure Denver’s offensive line issues.
Bolles is a bad man when he blocks, with a nasty edge and a propensity for finishing blocks by burying opposing defenders. The Utes blind-side protector is a phenomenal athlete for the position with excellent ability as a blocker in movement, skills that have propelled him into the first round conversation.
Bolles uses his athleticism very well in pass protection, where he moves smoothly and has shown the ability to stick with some special pass rushers this season. He’s particularly impressive as a run blocker in movement, as he was a force used as a pull blocker for Utah playing a big part in Joe Williams and the success of their running game.
Bigger than any on-field issues, Bolles biggest deterrent to his draft stock is his age as he’ll turn 25 during his rookie season and would be 30 by the time his second contract came up—assuming he goes in the first-round. He’ll also have some questions to answer about his past, though by all accounts he seems to have fixed his life for good.
Due to a lack of FBS big-time college experience, Bolles is still raw in many aspects of his game, and due to his age, it’s legitimate to wonder how much upside is remaining (at least physically). He particularly suffers against powerful defenders and creating push as an inline blocker when not on the move.
How he fits in Denver
Bolles is receiving lots of buzz in the past month and now seems poised to potentially dethrone Robinson and Ramczyk as the top tackle in the class as more and more evaluators become infatuated with his athletic skill.
He’ll make an interesting case for the Broncos as his skill set makes him much more suited for a zone-blocking scheme than a power-oriented attack. With Mike McCoy, Bill Musgrave and Jeff Davidson, the Broncos seem to be leaning more towards a power scheme but Bolles ability in pass protection could make him too good to pass up. Forcing the coaching staff to adjust their scheme to their talent—Bolles would have been a no-brainer in Gary Kubiak or Kyle Shanahan’s offensive schemes.