ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With their first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Broncos aimed to give quarterback Joe Flacco another dangerous weapon to target.
With their second, they aimed to give him someone who can help provide extra time with which to throw to him.
Risner, a Wiggins, Colorado native, was a bruising offensive lineman for Kansas State, earning first-team All-American honors in 2018 from four different media outlets. He was a three-year captain and started in 50-of-51games over the past four years, and now he’ll be returning to his home state to begin his NFL career.
“It’s nice to have him coming here to Denver,” President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway told Broncos TV. “[He’s] a guy that we really coveted. We’re glad we were able to get him in the second round.”
The 41st-overall pick finished his college career playing tackle, but he started it at center. With the Broncos, he can expect to return to the interior of the line, as Elway mentioned.
“He’s very versatile, can play a lot of different positions,” Elway said. “He can play tackle. We’re going to try toput him at guard. … He plays with an attitude and toughness, so he’ll add a lot to our offensive line.”
Throughout the draft process, Risner has been adamant that he can play whatever position along the line that he’s asked to play. Prior to his first Senior Bowl practice, he studied the playbook to learn all five positions. Now, he should be able to narrow that down a bit.
“I’m most definitely ready to go inside,” Risner told media on a conference call shortly after he was selected. “That is a position that I’m very familiar with. I played center almost my whole life before I got to college. I worked guard through all five years at Kansas State. I also played right tackle. With my size and the type of player that I am, playing guard is a good position for me. I think it’s going to work out really good. If I get down there and they say they need me at tackle, I’ll play tackle. Wherever Mr. Elway and [Head] Coach [Vic] Fangio and [Offensive Line] Coach [Mike] Munchak put me is where I’m going to go to work.”
Munchak, the Pro Football Hall of Famer who played left guard for the Houston Oilers, can certainly provide the guidance to help Risner make a successful transition to the NFL, and Risner said he’s eager to get to work with the Broncos’ new offensive line coach.
“He is one of the best coaches to do it,” Risner said. “[I’m] really thrilled and honored to be able to play for Coach Munchak. Just the two hours that I had with him, he was talking about all that he was going to help me with in terms of my technique and how they do things at the Denver Broncos. He loved how nasty I was on the field and the way that I play and my physicality. I just mixed well with him and [Assistant Offensive Line Coach Chris] Kuper as well as everyone else. I just think that is going to be a coaching staff I am going to do a really good job for and fit in really well with.”
With that kind of leadership and his talent, Risner may be able to provide a stable presence for the Broncos in the trenches for years to come.