ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Shane Ray knows what awaits Garett Bolles in Denver.
The Broncos' 2015 first-round pick has lived with the expectations that accompany being the team's first selection in the NFL Draft, and he shared some advice Wednesday for the latest player to fall in that category.
"The expectation [to perform] is going to be there whether you like it or not," Ray said. "You're a first-round pick, and some people are going to love you and some people are going to hate you."
Bolles, the 20th-overall pick in last week's draft, will arrive at UCHealth Training Center to hopes that he wins the starting left-tackle job ahead of the opener against Los Angeles.
The 24-year-old rookie played just a single season at Utah before declaring for the NFL Draft, but there won't be much patience among the Broncos' fan base as Bolles adjusts to the speed of the NFL game.
"That's how it is," Ray said. "I told [2016 first-round pick] Paxton [Lynch] the same thing. They're going to love you, they're going to hate you. It depends on the day, it depends on what you do in the game. But what's most important is [that] you continue to work, you keep your goals to yourself and you just do what you say you're going to do."
But even as Ray offers advice to Bolles, the third-year pass rusher has no plans to cut him slack in the early part of the rookie's career.
"It's football," Ray said. "He should be ready. He should come here with the mentality that we're going to work. I don't care if he's a seventh-rounder, he's going to get the same work that he would've got. I just hope he's ready. We've got big expectations for him."
Ray has set lofty goals for himself, as well.
Over the course of the offseason, Ray evaluated his tape from last year and focused on his footwork and technique as he looks to take the next step in his career.
He's actually found one way forward by looking to his past.
During his junior year at Missouri, Ray asked himself why he couldn't average a sack per game. He got to that mark as he finished with 14.5 sacks in 14 games, and now he's looking to transfer that production to the NFL.
"Nobody [can] block me for a whole game," Ray said. "So one sack a game for me is equivalent [over] 16 games [to] 16 sacks. That could lead the league, not to mention playoffs. So that's how I break stuff down."
That would certainly get Ray an All-Pro nod and would likely make him defensive player of the year, as well.
With Von Miller in the room as motivation, Ray is ready to make that happen.
"More than anything, I'm trying to really just establish my dominance as a player [and] really do what I feel like I was brought here to do," Ray said. "It's been two long years of me learning and kind of going through that, but now I'm free. I feel like [they have] let the chains off. I can go do what I want to do and make plays."
As the rookie will soon learn, the expectations never go away.