ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In the NFL, just about the least a team can give up in a trade is a conditional seventh-round draft pick. Typically, the player traded for this value is a bubble player — Example: The Broncos traded a conditional seventh-round pick for Mark Sanchez in 2016 who ended up getting cut before the season started.
On the eve of this year’s training camp, July 26, the Broncos made a similar move, acquiring veteran offensive lineman Allen Barbre for only a 2019 conditional seventh-round draft pick, meaning if Barbre didn’t make the team, Denver got their draft pick back.
However, near the conclusion of training camp, Barbre is trending a significantly different direction than Sanchez was at this time last year. During Saturday’s second-to-last training camp practice, Barbre cracked the starting lineup.
“We kind of gave [Barbre] some one reps today from Max [Garcia],” Vance Joseph said after practice. “Again, the guard position is an open competition there between three or four guys so the best guy is going to play. It’s fair that he’s getting some one reps.”
While Joseph underplayed Barbre stepping in for Garcia at left guard, the rest of what he said after Saturday’s practice told more of the story. After evaluating the team’s performance from Thursday’s first preseason game against the Chicago Bears, Joseph specifically singled out the offensive lines play, both positively and negatively.
“I liked the offensive line as far as the run blocking. We moved guys, the double teams were stout and aggressive. We had some big holes in the running game,” he said. “Protection-wise, I wasn’t totally pleased there; we gave up some protections as far as the five-man pressures. I wasn’t pleased there.”
During the first preseason game, the Broncos allowed two sacks — one on the first play of the game, when Trevor Siemian went down and the other when the Bears got to Kyle Sloter in the fourth quarter.
The most impactful pressure, however, came during the Broncos’ first drive. On 3rd-and-7 from the Bears’ 20-yard line, Siemian was immediately pressured up the middle after Garcia was blown off the line of scrimmage — drawing a flag for holding that was declined — forcing Siemian to throw the ball away and settle for a field goal.
While that was just one play for Garcia, he did struggle with pass protection in 2016 at left guard. On the other hand, in 2016 with the Philadelphia Eagles, Barbre was stellar in pass protection — only allowing 2 sacks and 14 pressures in 12 games.
“He makes pass pro look easy at times. It’s what we saw on tape from Allen,” Joseph said. “Allen Barbre is a pro’s pro. He came in and hit the ground running. He hadn’t made a bunch of errors at all, he’s a tough guy.”
When asked if Barbre would get playing time with the first-team offense in the team’s second preseason game August 19, Joseph simply said, “Maybe.”
With a hole in pass protection prevalent and an above pass blocker on the bench, don’t be surprised if changes take place along the Broncos’ offensive line.