Broncos Activate OT Elijah Wilkinson & Rookie OG Netane Muti Off Injured Lists, per Report
On Monday, the Denver Broncos' plan at right tackle imploded when Ja'Wuan James notified the team he'd be opting out of the 2020 season due to concerns about the coronavirus. This left the Broncos in the lurch as the next-best offensive tackle the team has was sitting on the sidelines as training camp kicks off.
However, the Broncos remedied that by activating OT Elijah Wilkinson off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, as well as rookie OG Netane Muti off the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list. KUSA's Mike Klis broke the news.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then the Broncos might have to get creative when it comes to formulating their best starting five for 2020. As it stands, three of the five O-line slots are spoken for. Garett Bolles is at left tackle, Dalton Risner at left guard, and free-agent acquisition Graham Glasgow at right guard.
The center position will come down to rookie third-rounder Lloyd Cushenberry III and 2019 holdover Patrick Morris. On paper, the Broncos are likely to roll with Wilkinson at right tackle, just like last year when James missed most of the season with a lingering knee injury.
But the Broncos could choose to get even more creative with Muti activating this early. Muti is a bruising interior blocker. If he can get and stay healthy, he could be a real steal as many draftniks had him graded as a Day 2 talent. The injury concerns were what dropped him to Day 3.
That could free up the Broncos to play with Risner a little bit. Risner played most of his career at Kansas State at right tackle. While his skill-set is yet to be tested on the edge at the NFL level, he played his entire senior year without relinquishing a sack at right tackle.
If the Broncos were to get creative in the wake of James' crushingly disappointing decision to opt-out, the Broncos could keep Wilkinson as a swing/reserve guy and kick Risner out to right tackle, while plugging Muti in at left guard. The problem with Wilkinson at right tackle is that in his 12 starts last year, he proved to lack the foot-speed to contend with athletic pass rushers on the edge, giving up 10 sacks and multiple holding penalties.
Wilkinson is best-served playing inside where within the relative confinements of the phone booth. While there's no guarantee that Risner would thrive or do any better than Wilkinson did last year at right tackle, the upside potential might be worth the rolling of the dice. Risner started all 16 games at left guard as a rookie last year, despite suffering a lower-leg injury late in the season.
Especially, that is, if Muti can get and stay healthy. That man is an animal. Time will tell. Stay tuned.