Denver has set out to develop, rather than draft, All-Pros. Louis Vasquez did most of his developing in San Diego, but excelled as the Broncos' All-Pro right guard.
It’s a delicate balance. You need to have stars and players in development. You need enough of them ready to play today. That includes both starters and rotational players.
When you talk about a developmental offensive lineman, Ali Marpet might be the best 2015 draft OG you’ve never heard of. Or, by now, maybe you have.
Marpet wasn’t on many fans' radars. He came out of D-III Hobart, which isn’t an NFL production school. Every scouting report notes that he hasn’t seen top competition. That was true before the Senior Bowl, but he had little trouble handling most of the top defensive line prospects.
He fires out quickly and has power in his legs. He drives defenders backwards, which has drawn interest as a center. At 6-4 and 307 lb, he keeps his pad level low. He has unusually advanced technique. Once he builds an NFL body in terms of power and endurance, he’s a solid prospect. He needs to be developed. He also shows signs of being well worth the investment.
He has the weakness of playing down to the level of the defender. As a result, he can get caught leaning or lunging. He had far less problems with those at the Senior Bowl. He will let a lesser defender into his body - he needs to develop a better finishing instinct.
That doesn’t mean that he didn’t do his share of finishing on the college level. He did. But the NFL’s a huge leap from Division III. His combine drills included a 4.98-second 40-yard dash, which was the fastest among linemen. He also ran a 7.33-second three-cone drill and a 4.47-second 20-yard shuttle. He’s athletic and has better technique than I expected.
His coach, Kevin DeWall, is the offensive coordinator, offensive line coach, and tight ends coach. Small D-III schools operate a little differently. Coach DeWall deserves a little of the credit here, too. He seems to know a bit about player development too.