As the Broncos head toward training camp, DenverBroncos.com is again taking a detailed look at several members of this year's rookie class. And aside from Denver's coaching staff, who better to call than their college coaches? These players honed their techniques while at school, and their coaches know better than most what to expect from these rookies.
This year's series continues with Bill Snyder, Kansas State's recently retired head coach who worked with second-round pick Dalton Risner for five years in Manhattan, Kansas. The College Football Hall of Fame coach led the Wildcats for 27 years, which adds more than a little credibility to his claim that Risner is among the best players he's ever coached.
Aric DiLalla: Could you start by giving me a scouting report on Dalton's game?
Bill Snyder: "Well, I think it starts with the type of person that Dalton is. That has had a great impact on the type of player that he has become. He's a young guy that attempts to do everything right and he does it with enthusiasm and he's a very committed young guy to a variety of different things in his life, but primarily football has been very major in that respect. As an on-the-field player, he brings a great deal of emotion to his teammates. He's a great teammate. Good, if you will, locker-room type guy. He carries that over on the field and the players have a great deal of respect for him. Consequently, they promote him as a quality leader within our program. And he accepts that responsibility very diligently. From a physical standpoint, for his size, he's a little bit better athlete than people want to give him credit for being. I think he's a good athlete because he's bright about the things that he does. He's a young guy that understands the game as well as anybody that we've had. And we've had quite a few very fine players at those positions on the offensive line who have gone on and played. He makes good decisions and he makes them very quickly. He's one of those guys who seemingly gets a jump on the opponent virtually every single snap. He gets where he's going a little faster than the other guy does. I think, fundamentally, he truly recognizes the value of great fundamentals and makes that really important in his game. Studies it extremely diligently. Works on it before practice, during practice, after practice. Always invested in trying to get himself better in all facets of his life. In football, certainly in terms of the fundamentals of the game. Good pass protector, good run blocker. Very versatile. He's played every position on the offensive line for us, and consequently, that has helped him a great deal in having a tremendous understanding of the game. He can tell you what the 11 guys are doing every snap of the ball. That just makes things come to him very, very quickly."
AD: He played a lot of games for your team pretty early on. How valuable was his consistency and availability for the team?**
BS: "I think that's an important factor. Part of that is that mental toughness that he possesses, and I think part of it is he's athletic enough that he keeps himself out of harm's way. Not by intentionally trying to avoid anything, but just by doing things the right way. His dependability is a great feature for him, one of his intrinsic values. Dependability means a lot to him. And once again, [in] all facets of his life — because he carries football into all aspects of his life, as well. The lessons that he's learned in football have served him well off of the football field."
AD: Is there a play or a game you can look back to where you remember thinking, Dalton has a chance to go play in the NFL?**
BS: "Well, it's not something that we sit around and think about a great deal, but I'm sure when he first arrived and got the opportunity to start very [early] in his career, it was very easy to see that he was going to become the kind of player who could have a very fruitful career after college. The one thing that maybe verified that thought very early was you could see his passion for improvement. No matter how good he seemed to be or people thought he was, he always wanted to find ways to improve his game and become a better player."
AD: Is there an area of Dalton's game in which you think he needs to improve in order to be successful?**
BS: "I think he's improved in every facet of his game, all the physical aspects, certainly. I think he learned very quickly and you could see him really invest in improvement in terms of the mental aspects of the game, as well. [He] gained knowledge about what's taking place every single snap — understanding that from different aspects. I'm laboring under the assumption that most everyone believes that if you know what the guy on the right and the guy on the left are doing, it makes your job a little bit easier and gives you probably less hesitation about what you're doing. It makes you a quicker player. I think that's one of the things that Dalton [does best]. You put him on a [stop]watch and he falls in the norm. But you put him on the field and he's much quicker than the clock would indicate, just because he has that advanced knowledge of what's going to take place and how it's going to happen."
AD: You've touched on this a bit, but what should Broncos fans know about the type of man that Dalton is?**
BS: "Well, I think that will be very apparent, very quickly — with his teammates, with his coaches, with the administration, with the people of Denver and Broncos fans everywhere. He will get actively involved in community service, not because it's expected of him but because he really desires to do that. Helping youth is very, very significant and important to him. They'll find he's not one of those guys that will show up in the newspaper for the wrong reasons, which is somewhat prevalent. He's a guy that's going to take good care of himself and be a wonderful example of human life in that community. I think people will garner a great deal of respect for him very quickly because of that."