The Denver Broncos are trudging through the offseason training program and won't kick off mandatory minicamp until June 13. With the roster for minicamp (and the preseason) essentially set, this team will have a few key positional battles for starting spots this offseason.
The most important of those preseason positional battles will be for the starting right tackle spot. Offensive coordinator Justin Outten spoke with media after the draft and he seemed to be fairly confident in one of three players taking control of that position.
“I think we have really good options at that position,” Outten said. “I think it’s a very competitive position. It’s a veteran position. There are three guys with Billy (Turner), Tom (Compton) and Calvin (Anderson). Those guys can battle it out, and I’m really excited about that position just to see how it plays out.”
With these three veterans firmly entrenched in an offseason fight to start, what does each player bring to the position? Today, I dive into the games of all three of these players and talk about their chances of starting come week one.
Likely Starter: Billy Turner
The player with the highest likelihood of starting come Week 1 is Turner, the veteran tackle, who was signed to a one-year, $2.5 million contract back in March. Turner, 30, is coming off of a solid season with the Green Bay Packers, where he finished the year with 866 snaps at right tackle and allowed just three sacks and three quarterback hits.
When looking at Turner's game on film, everything about him just screams solid. He has good length for the position and is a fairly explosive player off of the snap. Traditionally, he has graded out as a better pass blocker than run blocker in his career (according to Pro Football Focus).
Focusing on just pass protection, Turner is quick out of his stance and rarely gets beat to the outside. He locks down speed rushers with his quick hands, and he is well versed at adjusting throughout the rep. He has a bit of a poor anchor (and his hands can be erratic) but I love how he has mastered the ability to win the "ugly rep."
In a league with so many talented pass rushers, tackles have to understand how to win when everything isn't perfect. Turner simply gets it done, no matter how ugly it can look at times.
With the Broncos transitioning to more of an outside zone rushing scheme, they need offensive linemen that are good athletes on the edge. Turner may not be a special mover by any means, but he can operate efficiently in this scheme.
He has very few issues with reaching backside 3-techniques on run plays away from his side, and he can climb to the second level when he is on the play side. Turner also brings some added power when the team mixes in some duo/gap concepts. He may not be great in the run game, but his ability matches well with what the team wants to do in 2022.
Prime Contender: Tom Compton
Turner wasn't the only right tackle that the Broncos signed this offseason, as they also scooped up Compton on a similar one-year, $2.25 million contract. Compton, 33, is coming off of a strong year as a reserve lineman for the San Francisco 49ers in 2021. He finished the year with 743 snaps at right tackle, allowing six sacks and three quarterback hits.
Compton is a bit of the inverse of Turner, as he is a stronger run blocker than pass blocker. Where Turner brings good length and size, Compton is a bit on the smaller side (but he makes up for this with quick feet and excellent explosion off of the ball).
Looking at pass protection, Compton is an aggressive setter. He may be one of the more aggressive pass setters that I've ever studied. He loves to get on top of pass rushers in a hurry and will do whatever he can to make first contact with his defender. This can get him into some trouble at times, but when it works, it looks pretty good.
The net result may be a bit inconsistent, but Compton understands his limitations and sets like this to mitigate some of his length concerns he would have in a normal pass set.
Where Compton can really sell himself in this competition is in the run game. He is a bulldozer in tight and might be even better when he is able to get out in space. He excelled in the Niners' heavy zone rushing scheme last season, grading out as one of the best run blockers in the league (according to PFF).
Compton has some issues with lining up his targets at the second level, but outside of that, this is where he thrives. He is a powerful and athletic player that could add a major boost to the run game in 2022. If the Broncos are okay with his pass blocking inconsistencies, it may be worth starting Compton at right tackle solely for what he brings to the ground game.
Darkhorse: Calvin Anderson
The somewhat surprising addition to this competition is the relatively young Anderson. Anderson, 26, is entering his third year with the Broncos in 2022.
He had an outside shot at the right tackle spot a year ago, but lost out to Bobby Massie in camp. Anderson did see some time in reserve last season, logging 172 snaps while allowing just two quarterback hits on the year.
Anderson may be the least gifted of the three players in this competition, but he is a fiery competitor that puts out some good film whenever he does see action. He is a much better pass protector than run blocker from the limited film that we have seen of him up to this point.
In the pass game, Anderson has active hands and feet at the point of attack. He is constantly moving, and this helps him overcome his size and strength deficiencies at the point of attack. He constantly readjusts to gain position on defenders, and he has worked to become a positive impact player in the pass game over his short career.
Where Anderson is going to be hurting a bit is in the run game. He doesn't bring the pure athleticism or strength that the other two do in this new offensive scheme. He struggles to contain blocks off of the edge and isn't the best at getting out in space on outside runs.
This isn't to say that Anderson is totally out because of this, but his avenue to winning the starting job is much harder than the other two players. They just have a noticeable leg up on him in this area.
While it is hard to say that the Broncos are in great shape at the right tackle position, it is hardly the liability that some thought it could be coming into the offseason. The team has three quality offensive tackles competing for this job, and that is more than some teams could say about their right tackle position.
Ultimately, it will likely come down to familiarity with the scheme. This is where Turner, who played under Nathaniel Hackett with the Packers, has a leg up on the competition. He is the only one that can step in from day one with full knowledge of the playbook and scheme. In a tight race like this, that is a major advantage to have.
The likely scenario is that the Broncos go into the year with Turner starting at right tackle and Compton serving as the backup for the position (and maybe backing up the guards as well). Anderson will probably stay on the left side and backup Garett Bolles.
While this tackle group isn't the best in the league by any means, it is far from a major liability that will kill the Broncos this season. That is a pretty big step up from the past couple of years for the team.
Follow Zach on Twitter @ZachHicks2
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