ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **In a stormy two years for the Florida Gators, Max Garcia was a steadying influence -- first on the left side of the offensive line at guard and tackle, and finally in 2014 as the starting center for the entire season.
Considering that Garcia didn't arrive in Gainesville until 2012 after transferring from Maryland, the fact that he emerged as a full-time starter by 2013 and a team captain as a senior spoke volumes about the impression he was able to make on teammates and coaches.
"I feel like I had the right mentality," Garcia said. "I came in and had to sit out (2012, per NCAA transfer rules) … I went out with the right mentality that I was going to practice hard, even though I wasn't going to play on Saturday. I think I earned the respect of my teammates that way."
Garcia's leadership potential is only one of multiple reasons why the Broncos used their compensatory fourth-round pick on him. His positional versatility enhances his value; he could find a home at left guard if he doesn't settle in at center.
"I think I'm a great fit for the Broncos for what they do as far as zone blocking," Garcia said. "I feel like I can get up to that second level in combinations with the center and guard."
Which part of that combination he is, he doesn't know.
"I'm listed as a center/guard, so I can be anywhere between the two," Garcia said. "That's where I'm going to play at: wherever they want me, it doesn't matter."
Head Coach Gary Kubiak said that Garcia would begin his on-field work at right guard, behind Louis Vasquez. But Garcia can expect to move around.
Look through Broncos fourth-round pick (133rd overall) C Max Garcia as he made his journey to the NFL.
"It's a competitive situation, but Max will be involved in all of it," Kubiak said. "I think he's got to come in here and prove he can handle a bunch. That's one of the reasons we drafted him. We think he can handle a lot at those spots."
As a senior, and again at the Senior Bowl, he worked at center. During that week, he faced off with defensive tackles such as Iowa's Carl Davis and Washington's Danny Shelton.
Garcia held his own, doing a good job getting his position set after the snap and quickly gaining his balance. But he felt the experience was a bit humbling, and he left knowing he had to change how he worked.
"It made me realize that sometimes that you're not as good as you think you are, or that there are players out there that are extremely talented," Garcia said. "I kind of got that realization when I was out there.
"It increased my work ethic and gave me things I needed to work on after the Senior Bowl. I did do a good job out there; I left as the best center out there at the Senior Bowl. It was just a great opportunity to go against that type of competition."
And it gave him a taste of the challenge yet to come.