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2020 Denver Broncos position grades: offensive line


The 2020 Denver Broncos are a must watch team this upcoming season. With a strong young core, the sky is the limit for a team who went 4-1 in their last five games. One of the biggest reasons for this? Drew Lock and the Denver Broncos offensive line. The line and the QB play was sub par until Lock entered the fray, as highlighted below:

According to Football Outsiders, the Broncos surrendered 41 sacks at a 25th ranked 8.1% sack rate. That points to leaky pass protection. However, Joe Flacco was sacked 26 times in 8 games (3.25 per game) and Brandon Allen nine times in three games (3.0 per).

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In this article, we’ll take a deeper look into this Denver Broncos offensive line, and explain if they improved for this upcoming season.

Image Credits: Predominantly Orange

Position grades: tackle – C

With Ja’wuan James opting out of the 2020 season due to covid-19, the battle at right tackle will be an interesting one to watch. Elijah Wilkinson, the fourth year tackle, has been a borderline average starter.

Wilkinson gave up 10 sacks in 2019, which was fourth most in the NFL. The competition should be heating up though, with former Buccaneers veteran Demar Dotson signing a one year, $3 million contract. Dotson has struggled with penalty problems though, giving up 10 in 2019, but only allowing five sacks, which was good for 27th in the NFL. Dotson will compete with the younger Wilkinson for the starting role on the right side of the line in 2020.

On the other hand, Garett Bolles has an immense amount of pressure to perform in 2020. In fact, Bolles likely has to have a breakout 2020 season to earn himself a spot on the Broncos roster in 2021. After holding (pun intended) down the left side for three years, Bolles committed 32 penalties in three years. This is fairly concerning for the Lock led offense in 2020. Compare this number to fellow 2017 draftee Ryan Ramczyk, who has committed 11 penalties in the same time period.

His holding problems are a serious issue, putting him second in the league in penalties, with 17 according to PFF. He only gave up four sacks in 2019, so eliminating the holding issue will secure him a spot on the team long term.

Interested in more sleeper teams for 2020? Read more about the Dolphins season prediction here!

Position grades: guard – A-

This will be short and simple. Dalton Risner, who made the PWFA All-Rookie Team in 2019, will hold down the left side. He’s kinda-sorta extremely talented. Only giving up three sacks and committing a mere three penalties in 2019 definitely puts him at the top of the NFL right now. Year two is going to be a big one for Dalton and the interior of this line. If Risner can bring the rest of the line up to his exceptional level, then the talented RB room for Denver should have opportunity to excel in 2020.

Graham Glasgow, a consistent starter for the Detroit Lions, will protect the right side after being signed in free agency. A perfect tandem who will have success in 2020, barring injury. Glasgow gave up zero sacks in 2019, and only three penalties, grading out at 74.1 as per PFF, so he will improve the guard spot immediately after the departure of Ron Leary. Glasgow, if healthy, is one of the most solid guards in the NFL. He should provide great protection for the young signal caller; bolstering the Denver Broncos offensive line considerably.

Interested in what QB’s will succeed in 2020? Read about Matthew Stafford’s bounce-back season here!

Image Credit: The Denver Channel

Position grades: center – B-

Center is hard to predict, since the presumed starting center, Lloyd Cushenberry III, is a rookie drafted in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He’s a good center by most metrics, blocking for new Bengals rookie quarterback Joe Burrow on a loaded LSU squad. The Draft Network gives some fantastic scouting reports on Cushenberry, highlighting his tremendous body control, hip mobility, short area quickness and a high level of football intelligence.

Lloyd was fantastic at LSU, and will most likely be a Denver Bronco for a long time if he continues on the current trajectory. It’s more than likely that he will have a rocky rookie season, but with the right coaching, he will adjust quickly to the pro game and anchor the middle of the line effectively. Having Offensive line coach Mike Munchak will definitely allow Cushenberry to progress quickly with access to elite level coaching. Patrick Morris is there too, but he probably won’t see the field.

Bringing it all together

Drew Lock, after only taking five sacks in 2019, has a great shot to succeed behind this offensive line. With his athleticism and and penchant for avoiding sacks, the Broncos could be one of the best offensive units in the NFL. Keeping Drew safe while Sutton, Jeudy, and Hamler create space and separation will be key for this team’s success in the passing game.

In the run game, blocking for Phillip Lindsay, and new addition, former Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is key. Lindsay had another 1000 yard season in 2019, and coupled with the explosive Gordon, the running game could set up a dangerous one-two punch at RB.

Overall, this Denver Broncos offensive line will be much improved in this upcoming season, and can provide a solid foundation for success in 2020.

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