Combine Notes: Offensive Linemen

1. It’s not everyday that you see an offensive lineman run a 4.71 official 40. Very impressive, Terron Armstead! It’s not just the speed, either. This kid knows how to play the game. Lane Johnson also had an excellent time - 4.76.

While the size of the average American has leveled off, for the most part (although a lot are still growing sideways), the size, weight, and speed of offensive linemen continue to increase. The number of reps on the 225 bench didn’t go up, but their overall power was impressive. There were six sub-4.9 forty times, with 10-yard splits to match. I haven’t looked up each year, but I don’t recall that offhand in combine history.

2. Watching one of the drills: the player lies on his back, arms spread, has to leap to his feet, turn, and the coach holds a football that shows him the direction he should take, changing it several times with no pattern.

Braxston Cave did it, and not badly. Emmett Cleary followed - better - and then Jonathan Cooper took his turn. His feet were wide, his steps short and choppy, and his hips dropped properly - it was like watching a video of how to do the drill. No offense is meant to Cleary or Cave, but Cooper was letter-perfect. If you wondered why he’s one of the top two guards this year, check the film of that drill. That’s a big part of why - and he’s not just athletic, he’s also knowledgeable and talented.

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Scouting the 2013 Draft: Offensive guards

Going into draft season, it’s worth considering that Denver’s interior line remains one quality guard away from their starting five being a seriously dangerous group. Although Manny Ramirez developed some over the last season, he's just average when he’s playing his best, while Chris Kuper has become a big question mark.

I believe Denver needs more than that at right guard. I like Ramirez, but right now he doesn’t scare anyone. If Denver thinks he can become better than he was last year, they might want to take a chance on him.

However, what I’m looking for is the ability to add ferocity to the line, and I love the players who do that. Orlando Franklin was drafted on both his skill and his mean streak. The whole line responded to that toughness. That’s the power of a serious lineman - when he makes the players he’s with better, it changes the entire dynamic of the OL (or DL). That’s what I envision for Denver.

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Welcome to Draft Season

With the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl in the bag, I thought this might be a good time to review what’s been happening with the players who stood out for one reason or another. There’s still a long way to go before the draft, and anything can happen with these players between now and then, but these are the things that registered with me from the Senior Bowl.

For starters, the Broncos reportedly met with the following prospects. I just chose whichever site seemed to offer the best information on the player to link to them - most sites don’t have all their info together yet. I also noted whether they got attention from the Shrine (EW) game or the Senior Bowl (SR):

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Chewing the Fat: Broncos select Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan

The IAOFM staff discuss the Broncos' selections of Tennessee DE Malik Jackson and Kentucky LB Danny Trevathan in the 2012 NFL Draft, plus more talk about ASU CB Omar Bolden

Doug: 11 more picks til us. Anyone like Zebrie Sanders?

Ted: I do.  As a 5th-rounder, he'd be great value. He's a LT

Doug: Kick Franklin inside to replace Beadles, and Blake takes over for Walton? Winn still available too

TJ: yeah, I would be shocked if he can' beat out JD and rather soon

Ted: I like Winn

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Broncos add 13 undrafted free agents

Per multiple reports (linked by name below), the Broncos have agreed to terms with 13 free agents. Here's the most up-to-the minute list:

Player Pos - School Notes Links
Anthony Miller TE - California Here's a cliched interview with Miller. PFW, NFP
Austin Wuebbels G - Missouri Check out Wuebbels putting up 225 a total of 43 reps. PFW, DSMU
Duke Ihenacho S - San Jose St Here's how Duke trains, which resulted in this tape. NFLPFW, CBS, NFP
Steven Johnson LB - Kansas Johnson has an intense method to increase speed. NFLPFW, CBS, NFP
Gerell Robinson WR - Arizona St Here's tape of Robinson and Osweiler. NFL, PFWCBS, NFP
Elliot Coffey LB - Baylor Coffey asks RG3 questions while RG3 wears a Jason Voorhees mask. DSBaylor
Jamie Blatnick DE - Oklahoma St Watch Blatnick crush Andrew Luck. NFL, PFW, CBS, NFP
Coryell Judie CB - Texas A&M Some highlights here. NFL, PFW, CBS, NFP
Aaron Brewer LS - SDSU I've got nothing. SDSU
Jerry Franklin LB - Arkansas Here's some tape. PFW, CBS, NFP
Mike Remmers T - Oregon St Here's an interview with Remmers (2:00 mark). PFW, DS, OSU
Wayne Tribue G - Temple Here's a presser where Tribue handles himself well. NFPDS, TU
Eric Page WR - Toledo Freshman year highlights (2009) and a highlights package on the Patriots' site, plus game tape against Northern Illinois and Ball State NFL, PFW, CBS, NFP

Gut Reaction: Broncos draft Danny Trevathan at #188

Late in the draft, it's all about depth and special teams.

This tells you all you need to know about the Broncos' pick of Danny Trevathan at #188.

Trevathan will immediately impact special teams--if he makes the team. He's undersized (6-0, 237) and speedy, which means he's perfect for kickoffs and punts.

The immediate image that will come to your mind is Wesley Woodyard, another undersized Kentucky WILL linebacker.  Woodyard probably has more straight-line speed than Trevathan, but the production is there.  Trevathan, as they say in the biz, is a tackling machine, and did play against the best competition in the country last year.  That's not to be taken lightly.

Many other players were available at this pick, and I'm surprised the Broncos didn't take a player like Boise State DT Billy Winn, who fell faster than a Tim Tebow out pass.  But, as we've seen in the last few days, the Broncos completely ignored the best-player-available philosophy.  That's easy to do when you're picking Von Miller; it's many times more difficult to do when you're rounding out your draft.

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Chewing the Fat: Broncos select Omar Bolden and Philip Blake

The IAOFM staff discuss the Broncos' selections of Arizona State cornerback Omar Bolden and Baylor offensive lineman Philip Blake in the 2012 NFL Draft

Doug: Hey Guys, get any sleep?

Ted: Happy Day 3. I slept pretty well.  I just wish I didn't think this started at 10 AM today

TJ: Roger Good Vibes

Doc: I slept about 4 hours - I'm on strong Earl Grey to start the day

TJ: Sweet, Em.  I stayed up all night trying to solve the Zodiac Killer crimes. Common as a street penny: pundits grading a team's draft as an "A" because they picked in the top 5 and got the blue-chip players. What the hell is this? Fans now announcing? Or is that some hick scout?

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Gut Reaction: Broncos draft Malik Jackson at #137

With pick #137, the Broncos drafted an undersized, but athletic and versatile DT/DE tweener in Malik Jackson from Tennessee.

The pick should make Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller happy.  Jackson is the sort of guy who can rotate in on passing downs and add to the Broncos' ability to get to the quarterback.

This is a good value pick and continues the Broncos' foray into drafting another guy (like Omar Bolden) who will specialize on third down.  His body type and raw athleticism remind me a little (don't go crazy, I said it's just a little) of former Bronco Trevor Pryce.  Like Pryce, he'll need to add some bulk to his frame (6-4, 265, but he's reportedly above 280 now) if he wants to play on every down.  He also needs to get tougher at the point of attack.  The NFL will not accommodate the light-handed.

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Gut Reaction: Broncos draft Philip Blake at #108

J.D. Walton is officially on the clock.

The Broncos' pick at #108, Center Philip Blake of Baylor, tells us more about what the Broncos think about J.D. Walton than it does about what they think of Philip Blake.  Walton has been slow to develop, and despite the Broncos' stellar running game last year, most Broncos fans recognize it had more to do with the unpredictability of the zone-read option than it did with Walton moving mountains up front.

It's not enough anymore that Walton played well against Ndamukong Suh in college.

It's not enough anymore to say that playing center in the NFL takes patience (Maurkice Pouncey, anyone?).

It's not enough to hope that Peyton Manning turns Walton into Jeff Saturday.

It's just not enough.

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Gut Reaction: Broncos draft Omar Bolden at #101

The Broncos continued to draft to their board at positions of need (if you believe the Big Dipper, John Fox). The latest is Omar Bolden, cornerback, from Arizona State.

There were many players more highly rated on the board (Alfonzo Dennard comes to mind, but doesn't pass Xanders's huge character weighting as part of his draft grade).  Also, they probably could have snagged Bolden with pick #108 or pick #137 given his ACL injury, which caused him to miss 2011.  Don't count me as a fan of this pick, but it was bold to draft Bolden with that injury history.

Yet, as we've been saying, the evaluation side of all of this is subjective.  You can't argue with the philosophy of the pick.  The Broncos needed at least one cornerback out of this draft.  Now they have him.  He's nearly 5-11 and 200 lbs.  That's the sort of cornerback who can cover tight ends on third down.  The NFL is becoming a league of specialists.  Having a large nickel corner who can cover guys like Antonio Gates is becoming critical.

Finally, Bolden is probably your starting return man heading into 2012, although I don't put his return skills at the same level as the guy they just lost: Eddie Royal.

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