Broncos guard Jon Halapio is a Floridian from St. Petersburg. Signed to the practice squad in December, he remains Denver's property, at least for now. So, I spent some time on him and his film.
Mike Mayock once made a comment. He said to put on some tape of a guy. Don’t look to see which guy it is. If by the middle you’re still not sure which guy you should be watching, he’s not worth watching for. That was pretty much my experience with Halapio.
He chose to attend the University of Florida in 2009. He did so over offers from the University of Colorado and from Notre Dame. He suffered an eye injury that required stitches just three games into his freshman year, and was granted a medical redshirt for the year from that incident. That gave him time away to think.
When he first arrived in Gainesville, he was a two-way player. At 6’2 and 320 lb, he was going to either play nose on defense or guard on offense. Starting in 2010, he went with the offensive line. He was usually their right guard from that point on. He had played every position on the offensive line at one time or another in high school.
Halapio attended Florida from 2009 to 2013. He started 43 of the 51 games he played as an undergraduate. He was elected a team captain in both his junior and senior years. His teammates respected him. He usually played right guard. He played 10 games in 2013 with an 80% torn pectoral muscle. A couple of sites claimed that the torn pec was healed early in the year. Others said that it didn’t heal until after the season. Part of the joy of drafting is figuring out who’s lying. Either way, Jon didn’t believe in letting injuries slow him.
That’s a guard’s mentality. He’s dealt with knee surgeries, the eye injury, and several other injuries. They were comparatively minor, but there were several. He’s a legitimate tough guy. One reason I bring this up is that I found multiple sites with competing information on his injuries and his playing time. I’ve tried to sift it here.
Combine was revealing. He only managed a 21.5-inch vertical leap - the shortest of any lineman there. He is not fleet of foot, managing only an 8.26-second three-cone drill. With a 5.36-second 40-yard dash, he lumbers. You deal with it if you like his toughness. To me, he’s not an option for a stretch zone system. He’s on the roster, so I only see him as a camp body. How would he handle the constant footwork?
He was taken in the sixth round of the 2014 Draft by the Patriots. It was a little early for the Florida alum, according to various draft sites. New England made him one of their final cuts on August 30; Denver added him to their practice squad on December 17.
Last autumn, Halapio played for the Boston Brawlers, a chartered franchise of the Fall Experimental Football League, which is trying to become a developmental league for the NFL. I hope it works. Many players would transition much more easily with a developmental year or two. Jon could be one. I look forward to seeing how much he’s improved.
He’s down from the listed 6’4” and 323 lb that he carried into the 2014 Combine. He’s listed with Denver at 6’2” and 320 lb. He’s got a nice phone-booth quickness. One thing that’s on his side is that he had to learn three different offensive line systems in his four years as a college starter. Experience at learning new systems plays into the demands of the NFL. He learns them on the fly when it is necessary. In the NFL, you’ll be learning to protect the ball against a new defensive system each game.
The most frustrating thing I saw was him locking up effectively, then just letting his man go through. He should finish better. He tends to slap at the outside of the defender’s pads. He should be going for the center line with his hands. He gets to the second level at times and stands there, looking around. He also has trouble moving his feet through ‘trash’ around the line.
These mistakes aren’t on every play. They’re just too common for comfort. I see him as being in training to become a backup more than anything else. That might change over time - the Hall of Fame has some guys who weren’t much when they first came out.
He could start as a practice squad guy and become a backup. He could eventually blossom under a coach as good as Rick Dennison. Those are too many ‘ifs’ for me. To me, he’s just not the right fit for the team. Denver has three non-tradeable picks in the seventh round. This is the kind of guy that you might try with one - in a different system.
One site suggested that a slide protection system might suit him far better than a zone or fan approach. It’s a lot easier in terms of footwork, so that’s a point. He’ll do better if he’s not challenged more than necessary. He’s a project player, probably as a right guard.