KUSA—They are required to be tall, heavy and strong with quick feet and long arms.
Physically, left tackles are the rarest of football specimens. And the Denver Broncos want one.
They already have left tackle experience in Donald Stephenson and Ty Sambrailo. But the Broncos’ football hierarchy have made no secret about their desire to find another.
“We want a left tackle,’’ Vance Joseph, the Broncos’ new head coach, said during the NFL Scouting Combine.
The Broncos came up empty in free agency after parting ways with Russell Okung, although they did get a left guard in Ron Leary and right tackle in Menelik Watson. Stephenson accepted a pay cut from $4 million to $2 million as protection in case the Broncos don’t come away with a starting left tackle either through trade or the draft.
If the Broncos can’t work out a draft-week deal for either Arizona’s Jared Veldheer, Cleveland’s Joe Thomas or Philadelphia’s Jason Peters, they’ll have to get a left tackle in either the first or second rounds of the draft.
Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk visited the Broncos on Monday. Utah’s Garett Boles is visiting Tuesday. The Broncos met with Alabama’s Cam Robinson last week.
Those are the top three offensive tackles projected to go in the first round. Two of the three may be there when the Broncos select at No. 20.
The best of the rest at left tackle include Florida State’s Roderick Johnson, Temple’s Dion Dawkins, Troy’s Antonio Garcia, Vanderbilt’s Will Holden, Bucknell’s Julie’n Davenport, Utah’s Sam Tevi and USC’s Chad Wheeler.
A look at the top three offensive tackles, all of whom skipped their senior college seasons for the draft and one of whom may be the Broncos’ No. 20 selection next Thursday:
Ryan Ramczyk, 6-6, 310, Wisconsin
Some draft sites list Ramczyk as the No. 1 tackle in this class. Some have him third. Primary concern is he’s coming off hip surgery that will sideline him through a portion of the offseason.
Has a long history with Paul Chryst, who was Pitt’s head coach who recruited Ramczyk out of high school. After Ramczyk essentially walked away from football for a year, he eventually reunited with Chryst, who is now the Badgers’ head coach. Paul Chyrst’s older brother is Broncos’ tight ends coach Geep Chryst.
Cam Robinson, 6-6, 322, Alabama
A ferocious mauler who many draft experts see as a right tackle or guard instead of a left tackle – even though he was a three-year starter on the blind side for the Crimson Tide. With his size and athleticism, the Broncos may think offensive line coach Jeff Davidson can develop him as an NFL-caliber left tackle.
Garett Bolles, 6-5, 297, Utah
Raw as he has just one year of major college experience. A troubled youth who got his life in order thanks in part to a church mission in Colorado Springs when he was 21. He turns 25 next month so he’ll have to develop in a hurry. Considered the best left tackle of the top three.
If I were in the Broncos’ war room? I’d listen to Geep Chryst should he stand on the table for Ramczyk. But I ultimately believe the best tackle here is Robinson. If he’s picked before No. 20, the Broncos should scurry to trade their second-round draft pick for an established left tackle and use their No. 20 pick on a player at another position.