View photos of some of the best offensive guards and centers in the 2014 draft class.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Broncos could take an offensive lineman at any point in the draft, although it would be a significant upset if they selected a projected left tackle or right guard early, given the entrenchment of recent All-Pros Ryan Clady and Louis Vasquez at those sports.
But given the in-season extensions to tackle Chris Clark and guard/center Manny Ramirez, the recent re-signing of tackle Winston Justice and the free-agent addition of center Will Montgomery, Denver heads into the draft without a pressing need, even after the loss of left guard Zane Beadles in free agency, since internal options to replace him exist.
A contingency plan in case right tackle Orlando Franklin does not re-sign after his first contract expires following this season might be a priority, as well as developing a young center. But these are potential wants, and not pressing needs.
If the Broncos wait until the third day of the draft, they could be looking for athletic, high-upside offensive linemen. Some of those who could fit the bill in this draft range include:
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, McGill: The learning curve is likely to be steep for him coming out of Canadian college football, which is exacerbated by his relative lack of offensive line experience (two years) after transitioning from defensive end. He was not invited to the Combine, but his Pro Day numbers stacked up well relative to Combine performances. His 34 bench-press reps would have been seventh-best among Combine offensive linemen, his worst 40 time of 4.98 seconds would have been sixth-best (and his best, of 4.93, would have been third-best), his 31.5-inch vertical jump would have been third-best and his 9-foot, 7-inch broad jump would have ranked second behind Michigan's Taylor Lewan. He'll need to add some weight, but is a classic, athletic third-day prospect.
Cameron Fleming, Stanford: With an expected graduation this spring, the aeronautics and astronautics major (he says he wants to build jet planes) opted to turn pro early, but not, he admits, until after "My parents gave me permission" when he told them he would graduate. He might be projected by some teams to play inside, but at 6-foot-5 and 323 pounds, he could be a potential right tackle, which is the spot he played at Stanford. Fleming did not test well at the Combine, with average-to-below-average numbers in the speed, agility and strength drills, but was a stellar blocker, particularly in the run game, in college. The Combine workout might depress his stock a bit, but could make him a better value if he slips beyond the fourth round.
James Hurst, North Carolina: A broken fibula suffered during the Belk Bowl in December came at the worst possible time for Hurst, who was unable to work out at the Combine. He was also unable to focus on adding bulk in advance of going to the NFL, and at some point will have to add weight to the 296 pounds he carries on a 6-foot-5 frame. He also faces a potential position shift; while he played left tackle throughout his years at UNC, he projects to the right side or as a guard in the NFL. Hurst is quick, which you'd expect given his size; if he can maintain this with 10 or 15 extra pounds, he could flourish.
View photos of some of the top offensive tackles in the 2014 draft class.
Cornelius "Luke" Lucas, Kansas State: No offensive lineman at the Combine had lengthier reach than Lucas; in addition to being the tallest player in Indianapolis (6-foot-8), his 36 3/4-inch arms were 1 3/4 inches longer than any other offensive lineman there. The questions on Lucas revolve on his ability to get low when the need arises and whether he can generate enough power, particularly on run blocking. He also needs a good workout on April 28, since a foot injury kept him from working at the Combine or at his Pro Day.
Others of note in the Day 3 range: Justin Britt, Missouri; Matt Feller, Bloomsburg; Kevin Graf, USC; Parker Graham, Oklahoma State; Donald Hawkins, Texas; Seantrel Henderson, Miami (Fla.); Danny Kistler Jr., Montana; Matt Patchan, Boston College; Michael Schofield, Michigan.
INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINEMEN:
Tyler Larsen, Utah State: Larsen is mobile, agile, has good lateral footwork and is strong in the upper body; his 36 bench-press repetitions were second-best among all offensive linemen at the Combine. He's also experienced, having started 51 consecutive games to end his college career, and his blocking helped spring current Seahawk Robert Turbin to the NFL.
Brandon Thomas, Clemson: Whoever drafts Thomas will have to wait on him to recover from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered last week. But for the patient team willing to wait a year, Thomas could have excellent value. Although Thomas started at left tackle at Clemson, he likely projects to a guard in the pros -- and did start there earlier in his Clemson years. Thomas has some physical attributes: his 10 1/2-inch hands were the second biggest among Combine offensive linemen, and his 34 3/4-inch arm length was eighth-longest. His 35 bench-press repetitions were sixth-best. His work with a scrambling quarterback like Tajh Boyd also forced him to adapt and hold his blocks longer.
Others of note in the Day 3 range: Russell Bodine, North Carolina; Brian Clarke, Bloomsburg; Ryan Groy, Wisconsin; Jon Halapio, Florida; Jonotthan Harrison, Florida; Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma; Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt; Charles Leno, Boise State; Corey Linsley, Ohio State; Spencer Long, Nebraska; Tyler Shatley, Clemson; Anthony Steen, Alabama; John Urschel, Penn State; Chris Watt, Notre Dame.