The Denver O Line, long thought to be a point of weakness, is actually beginning to show signs of promise. Ben Garland is an intriguing option at Left Guard and, if he falters, either Shelley Smith, Michael Schofield, or rookie Max Garcia can probably take over at that position. Right Guard’s set with Louis Vasquez starring there. At Right Tackle we have enough talent, with either Ryan Harris, Chris Clark, or Michael Schofield likely to be decent. 2nd rounder Ty Sambrailo appears to have taken the Left Tackle position in stride. This leaves one obvious question: Who will play center in 2015?
The Broncos have a couple of interesting options.
Gino Gradkowski is the current starter. I know that people are saying he could flourish in Kube’s system, but he recorded a -15.6 PFF score (subscription required) in Jim Cladwell’s system in 2013, and then was not trusted enough by Kube’s to play more than a couple snaps last year. Maybe he could be an ok starter. I just don’t see it with him, and he seems like a fringe journeyman. He may not make this team IMO.
Matt Paradis is an intriguing player. 6th round pick last year, was a practice squad guy for us. His weights up well above 300 now, and he definitely has a center’s build. I wonder about his experience level and talent. He doesn’t seem strong or athletic, and was unimpressive even in college. He’s enough of an unknown not to be written off, but I’m not sure about him.
My favorite option for starting center would be Max Garcia. A versatile lineman who’s played all 5 positions. He has excellent strength, but also underrated mobility. Also of note, he shut down Danny Shelton and Carl Davis in senior bowl practices. I’m excited about his potential to start, and he definitely has NFL traits. It is really just a question of whether or not he can get the mental aspects of the game down in training camp.
The Bronco’s have about 7 million in cap space, and we could get any available free agent center for much less than that. Chris Meyers or Brian De La Puente would both be plug and play veteran starters. This may be the way to go, given all that Manning asks of his centers.
Sound off on who you want Manning taking snaps from in 2015.
In Elway we trust, go Broncos!