Forgive me for the pun, it was just too easy.
Even with the Broncos revamped defense and running game, the team’s ultimate success still rests on the health of one player: Hall of Fame Quarterback Peyton Manning. We all know that Manning is not one to speed past pass rushers, ala a Russell Wilson type. Therefore, it is understood that he needs solid pass protectors in order to do his job. Rookie second round pick, Ty Sambrailo appears to be the week one starter, which has raised some concern around Broncos nation. Some of this is justified. The CSU alumn has received a negative 1.2 score from pro football focus, seemingly validating the concerns of fans. Meanwhile, competitor Chris Clark has received a plus 3.3 grade from PFF.
It is not yet time to panic however. A deeper look at Sambrailo’s number paints a more even picture. Yes, his negative 1.2 score looks bad. The left tackle position places a premium on pass blocking. In that category, Sambrailo scored a promising plus 1.0 score, only .4 behind Clark. Sambrailo’s only issues come from a mediocre run blocking grade and a propensity for penalties, as reflected by his negative .6 and negative 1.6 grades respectively. So no, Sambrailo’s currently serviceable play and high upside dictate that he should be able to fend off Chris Clark.
Clark should not start at right tackle either in my opinion. We saw his upside, or lack of upside really, last season when he self destructed at the position. His high score should allow him to step into and excel in the swing tackle role this season.
The real weak link on the line is right tackle Ryan Harris. His negative 4.2 grade is inexcusable. At a position that places a premium on run blocking, his negative 4.1 grade in that regard sticks out like a sore thumb. Michael Schofield has performed decently this preseason, and could possibly take that job. His negative .2 grade is decent, and his negative 1.7 run blocking grade is at least better than Harris’ score. His positive 1.3 pass blocking score is also excellent, only .1 behind Chris Clark. If Scho can push Harris out of the starting lineup, I don’t see Harris making the final roster.