2022 NFL Draft preview: Offensive guard sleepers and Broncos adjustments

The Denver Broncos know that having a strong offensive line is the key to success. With superstar quarterback Russell Wilson under center, the team must do everything they can to have the best offensive line possible. In addition to protecting Wilson, the Broncos will run the ball with great efficiency and that relies on strong blocking up front – especially on the inside.

They’ve done a lot of work trying to garner help on the offensive line, especially inside guard where they have more than a few options.

This class of guards is really good. In fact, there seem to be clusters of talent clusters in each of the first three rounds. Could the Broncos be tempted to add one of these talented players to the draft? The class is strong enough that Denver could decide to get one of these potential starters.

In this article, I will look at the market for the position. I’ll also write about sleepers at offensive guard and some players who might fit what the Broncos need in the 2022 NFL Draft.

***

Market watch

There are at least three guards expected to be first-round picks in this draft. That’s rare for a draft, as there’s usually a guard or two getting called up on opening night. This class is strong in talent, and there are a few players of note as first-round talents.

Kenyon Green (Texas A&M) is widely considered the best guard in this class. There’s a chance he’ll be out of the picture in the top 15 picks of this draft — and for good reason. A term you’ll hear early and often with Green is “thick lower body” due to his strong lower body. He is well built for a guard and has a powerful position whether as a pass blocker or a run blocker. Green anchors himself quickly with a great base, making it difficult to shift from his position when his feet are on the ground.

He’s a versatile player with experience in four offensive line positions – all positions except center – and that shows how smart he is in the game of football. Green is rarely fooled by movement and twists up front, and he understands the missions of all the players around him. In addition to strength and intelligence, Green is an aggressive player who likes to win. He has some wickedness in his game and Green doesn’t let himself be intimidated on the football pitch.

There’s a lot to love about Boston College’s Zion Johnson. First and foremost is his consistency at the post. Johnson has good technique and could be a plug-and-play starter in the NFL. Johnson is a smart player who understands what a defense is trying to do and anticipates counter moves well.

Johnson has arguably the most powerful punch of any guard prospect in this class. He will stun and stun defenders with his strength, and this powerful punch gives him more time to diagnose a defender after they recover from the punch. Johnson not only hits with power, but he also likes to time the punch to knock defenders out of their rushing path. It is a round perspective with length and strength. This makes it hard to get around and don’t even try to cross it.

Kentucky’s Darian Kinnard is one of my favorite guards in this class, and he could hear his name called on the first night of the draft. A three-year-old starter at right tackle, Kinnard is going to be a good inside pro at guard. He was a road right tackle in college for the Wildcats, but there were limitations when he faced elite EDGE rushers. Moving him inside covers that issue, and it plays to his strengths as a mauler.

Kinnard does a good job gobbling up defenders when he gets his hands on them. His punch could use better timing and consistency, but he’s a powerful player who likes to dominate at the point of attack. A move inside to guard is best for him, and teams I’ve spoken to like the idea of ​​adding Kinnard with a premium pick.

***

Sleepers

When you see sleepers at guard, it’s usually the players who switch from tackle to guard at the pro level. Playing tackle in the college game is different from playing tackle at the professional level. Some players are good at tackle in college, but their best place in the NFL happens to be inside at guard.

Sean Rhyan (UCLA) played left tackle on the Bruins’ offense, but professionally he could be a powerful starting goaltender for years to come. Some in the scouting community see him as a right tackle at least with the ability to move inside if that position doesn’t work. I say save him in the pros and watch him grow into a Pro Bowl caliber player.

Rhyan is enormously tall, standing 6ft 5in and 321lbs. It’s not just his bulk, but Rhyan has a big wingspan and huge hands that help him control his man at the point of attack. Along with his height, Rhyan has the footwork to come out front as a shooting blocker – even on long wins.

While some sleepers change positions, other players classified as sleepers come from small schools. This is the case of Cole Strange of Tennessee-Chattanooga. He’s lean for a guard prospect, measuring 307 pounds, but adding 10 pounds of muscle at the pro level won’t be a problem.

Strange is a great fit for zone blocking systems (like the Broncos) due to his lateral agility and overall athleticism. I like how he shows an understanding of angles and he knows how to take his man on the go. Strange is a strong prospect, but power is not his game. Instead, he wins with cunning, consistency, and technique. It’s a jump between the Southern Conference and the NFL, but Strange is the type of physical, smart players teams will love to add as a development prospect.

***

Broncos adapt

Left side, Dalton Risner is in contract year. His game isn’t fully developed yet, but now he’s back in the system he looked so good in during his 2019 rookie season. Chances are Risner will blossom this year and gets a healthy contract from the Broncos at some point in the season. or soon after the season.

It’s the right side of the offensive line that needs work. Graham Glasgow has restructured his contract this offseason to help secure his place on the roster. He will have the opportunity to push for the starting center position, but Glasgow could be the favorite at right guard. If it’s not Glasgow, then 2021 third-round pick Quinn Meinerz is up for the starting job. Meinerz has starting experience from his rookie season, and he’s the type of player who is still developing his game. If he’s ready, starting Meinerz might be the best answer for the Broncos at right guard.

How about having a player who could fill all five positions? What if I told you that this player would be available on day three of the draft? That’s what you get with Chris Owens from Alabama. He has experience in all five offensive line positions. Crimson Tide’s starting right tackle is thrown inside at pro level.

Versatility is the hallmark of the Owens game. He has a good recovery ability when he misses a pass rush. Now you don’t want a guy to miss, but when he does (and they all do) you want a player who doesn’t put his head down and give up the game. Owens will make mistakes, mostly on technically, and then will work hard to recover. With professional coaching, these technical errors will diminish and his natural ability will manifest. He’s tough and competitive, exactly the type of player you want in the building.

***

Comments are closed.