After signing LT Ryan Clady to a five-year contract extension, the Denver Broncos are looking to solidify the one area on their team that begs the most questions.
Is the offensive line in a state of flux?
Signing Clady just made sense for the Broncos who as a team only gave up 21 sacks a season ago. Clady protects the franchise, Peyton Manning. Clady also brings consistency with him, having not missed a start despite having some very serious injuries during his career.
Clady might be the only thing on Denver’s offensive line resembling stability. Kris Kuper, who has been a fixture at right guard, is recovering from several ankle surgeries and may not be ready to go by the season opener. Starting center J.D Walton is also out with an ankle injury and will not be ready until mid-season at the earliest.
Zane Beadles returns at right guard, and the Broncos signing of left guard Louis Vasquez to replace the Manny Ramirez-Kuper duo is a major upgrade.
Ramirez was, by far, the worst Bronco lineman a season ago. Opposing coaches’ routinely schemed ways for their pass rush to exploit Ramirez’s pass-blocking weaknesses. Of the Broncos 21 sacks allowed, eight of them were allowed by Ramirez, and he only started 11 games.
In order to bolster the falling unit, Denver brought back veteran center Dan Koppen, who filled in admirably in Walton’s absence a year ago and the Broncos hope he can do the same again this year.
With so many questions, one might wonder how well, or poorly, the Broncos line might play, but what looks like a starting line of Clady, Beadles, Koppen, Vasquez and the very steady Orlando Franklin at right tackle, the Broncos line might actually be one of the teams’ strengths.
Once Kuper and Walton return from their injuries, they will provide Denver with fantastic depth.
Is the Broncos offensive line in trouble?