Coming out of Division III college Wisconsin-Whitewater, new Denver Broncos' offensive lineman Quinn Meinerz had to use every tool in his box to get noticed. Throwing guys around at a lower level seemed to come easy to a guy who likes pushing trees over to keep in shape, but the 22-year-old needed to prove himself against more elite competition if he was to justify being drafted.
Broncos' GM George Paton revealed that when the 320-pound Meinerz arrived in peak condition and excelled at the Senior Bowl, after being forced to take the previous college season off due to COVID-19 shutdown, it put him on his radar. A couple of short months later, Paton selected Meinerz in the third round, which is considered a 'premium' draft pick.
“It was hard to evaluate until we got to the Senior Bowl,” Paton recently said. “He lost 20 pounds, he was in shape and he fared well against elite competition. When you evaluate that, you interview the kid, you get his background. He ran a 4.89 or 4.9. [He’s a] really good athlete, loves the physicality of the game. I think he is going to fit in with our group and [Offensive Line] Coach [Mike] Munchak. He has a lot of upside.”
Meinerz relished the process.
“It's been an amazing process," Meinerz said via conference call. "To be Division III, have my season canceled, get a late invite to the Senior Bowl, and to be able to climb up the boards like I did, doesn't happen very often. I'm just excited to get to into the offensive line room to start competing and help the Denver Broncos organization win football games."
Finding the rough diamonds for Munchak to polish requires making the effort to unearth them in the first place, but the Senior Bowl provided an ideal one-stop-shop to run the ruler over the small-school gem. Paton noted how Meinerz seized the opportunity to prove himself against elite senior prospects which orchestrated his rapid ascent up several teams’ draft boards.
“I think he raised up everyone’s draft board because there were a lot of unknowns about him,” Paton said. “When you see him in one-on-one drills blocking guys that are first-and second-round picks, it was pretty amazing. You don’t see that very often. The more you dig into the person, the player, Whitewater, and where he came from, I think that he rose on everyone’s draft boards.”
Strength and power won’t be major issues for Meinerz to work on when he arrives for the Broncos rookie mini-camp on May 14, but given the current depth on the Broncos' interior line, he will have plenty of time to develop his skills under Munchak with an eye firmly on the future.
“As of right now, I'm just looking to get down there to compete," Meinerz said. "I'll slide in wherever I can solidify a spot.”
Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL.
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