ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The expectations for 2017 first-round pick Garett Bolles remain high.
And even after a rookie season in which he started all 16 games, what's next is all that seems to matter.
Bolles showed his potential when he earned a starting role ahead of Week 1, and he began to provide a semblance of stability at the position as the season progressed. But he also led the team in penalties, 10 of which were offensive-holding calls.
The Broncos suffered in those situations — and Bolles knows he'll need to improve in that area as he heads into Year 2.
"Going into your second year knowing you have experience behind you and you can just learn from those experiences," Bolles said. "So those things that you experienced in your first couple games as a rookie, you're not really going to experience those because you're going to be more calm and prepared because you've seen those things before. Just staying calm and confident. [I'm working on] limiting the things that I struggled with last year and just going in with an open mind and eager to work."
Head Coach Vance Joseph was a little more specific about Bolles' to-do list when he spoke to reporters at March's NFL Head Coaches Breakfast about the Broncos' 2017 first-round pick.
"First of all, physically he has to get bigger and stronger," Joseph said. "That's his first issue. His second issue is technique. I think having Chris Strausser as his full-time coach is going to help that. I'm excited to watch him grow as a player. But as a rookie to survive 16 weeks at left tackle, that's going to pay dividends for him. I'm excited to watch him come back and get better and better. He's a talent that just needs time to grow into the position. He is going to be a very good player for us in the future."
Bolles said he's added the weight that Joseph is looking for, and that should begin to help him and the line better protect the quarterback.
"We didn't do a good job last year doing what we need to do to protect the people behind us," Bolles said. "All of us up front are eager to just stay focused and get the job done and let Case [Keenum] do his thing."
If the external expectations for Bolles seem lofty, just know his own goals are even more difficult to complete. He said he hopes to make a Pro Bowl in his second season and knows he'll need to play in a consistent manner in order to accomplish that goal.
"My goal is to stay focused the whole game, do what I have to do, and be the best at my position without worrying about what other people have got to do," Bolles said. "[I need to] do what I've got to do to be the best. Because if I'm the best, then everyone around me is going to be the best also."
That would certainly satisfy expectations.