Starters: Ryan Clady (LT), Orlando Franklin (LG), Manny Ramirez (C), Louis Vasquez (RG), Chris Clark (RT)
Backups: Michael Schofield, Vinston Painter, Matt Paradis
There’s been some shuffling of the Broncos offensive line this year. Zane Beadles, last year’s starting left guard, was allowed to move on in free agency to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Broncos were looking for (they found it!) more beef up front on the interior of the line.
All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady is back, healthy and ready to dominate once again. He missed most of last year after going down in Week 2 against the New York Giants with a season-ending Lisfranc injury. Clady’s return is huge for the offense. He’s one of the best left tackles in the game today, and he’ll drastically improve the protection for Peyton Manning.
Orlando Franklin moves from right tackle to left guard as the replacement for Beadles. He’s huge, strong and ferocious as a run-blocker. Having Franklin inside means the Broncos should be able to push the pile more effectively in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
Manny Ramirez is the starter once again this year. He is strong at the point of attack, and Ramirez can effectively blast open holes for the ground game. Ramirez struggles against agile defensive tackles like J.J. Watt (who doesn’t?), but he’s not a bad player.
Right guard is manned by Louis Vasquez. He’s mean, nasty, agile and capable of being an outstanding run- or pass-blocker.
Chris Clark played left tackle for 14 regular-season games last year as he filled in for an injured Clady. This season, the team is counting on him as the right tackle to replace Franklin. Clark struggles against elite edge-rushers, but he should see less of those matchups now that he’s on the right side.
In the third round of the 2014 NFL draft, the Broncos selected OT/OG Michael Schofield out of Michigan. His agility and versatility give something the Broncos to develop. Vinston Painter sticks around from last year to play swing tackle for the Broncos. Matt Paradis is a developmental center who might make the practice squad. In this scenario, I have him making the final roster.