Denver Broncos Offseason Analysis: Offensive Line

By Joe Morrone
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The most important position on any football team is the quarterback; the next five important positions are the guys who protect the quarterback. The offensive line for the Denver Broncos had a good season in 2012 and now the top priority of John Elway is keeping the group intact.

Perhaps the number one goal for the Broncos is to sign left tackle, Ryan Clady to a long-term deal. Elway said in the end of the season press conference that Clady would be at the top of the to do list; it may take some time but chances are good that Clady will be with the Broncos for a long time. One way or the other Clady will be a Bronco in 2013; on the off chance that a deal is not reached, the team would use the franchise tag on Clady.

The Broncos are set at the other tackle position for years to come; Orlando Franklin had a very good season and will only get better. The improvement in his game from his rookie season to his second was astonishing, and he is well on his way to an outstanding career.

The other free agent that the Broncos need to re-sign is center, Dan Koppen. Koppen was signed after the regular season started to provide veteran depth and ended up being a key to the offensive line. He’s a veteran center who understands the no huddle, and he and Manning have developed a rapport. The guess is that signing Koppen will not be too tough; he has said repeatedly that he enjoyed this past season and has no desire to leave. JD Walton, the starting center before getting hurt, will return and provide quality depth at all of the interior line positions.

The two guard spots are also in good hands with Chris Kuper and Zane Beadles. Kuper had a rough season with injuries but when he’s healthy, he’s one of the better guards in the NFL. Beadles may have been one of the most improved players in the league; that’s not me saying that, that is coming from personnel people around the NFL.

The Broncos, either through the draft or free agency, need to add some depth. They struggled some when Manny Ramirez was forced to play for Kuper. Chris Clark, their primary backup at the tackle spot, is a free agent and that will have to be addressed. Overall, the Broncos are in great shape on the offensive line and that’s where good teams are built.

We are going to take a one day break from our positional look at the Broncos in deference to the Conference Championships on Sunday. We will be back on Monday to begin our look at the defense, starting with the defensive line.

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