Dalton Risner Shares Thoughts on Prospect of Moving to Right Tackle

Lance Sanderson

With starting right tackle Ja'Wuan James opting out of the 2020 NFL season, the Denver Broncos are left searching for answers at one of the most important positions on the offensive line.

For now, and much like last year, the job has seemingly been handed to Elijah Wilkinson, for better or for worse. Wilkinson — a natural guard — had a roller-coaster 2019 campaign, giving up 10 sacks off of the right side.

Jake Rodgers, Quinn Bailey, and possibly undrafted rookie Hunter Watts will be considered in a camp competition, but in an offseason, that's been far from normal, Denver may be better off moving forward with 'the devil they know', rather than the one they don't.

KUSA's Mike Klis reported that GM John Elway may tap into the offensive tackle market via trade, but options as of this post are limited, as are the options in free agency. Even though there are a couple of guys that could fill the void immediately, Denver may want to hold onto its remaining salary cap space to roll over into next year.

However, there is another option in-house that may be able to get the job done, even though it may upset the apple cart along the interior of the offensive line; 2019 starting left guard — and former Kansas State starting right tackle — Dalton Risner.

After Thursday's training camp session, Risner took part in a virtual press conference and was immediately asked about the potential of him making the jump to right tackle.

“I think it’s next man up when you’re in the NFL," Risner said. "We can only have a certain number of active guys. I believe this year it’s about eight, right? We can have about eight active offensive linemen if I know right. Maybe seven, unless that’s changed a little bit. Whenever you’re playing seven or eight guys, you’ve got to be able to play multiple positions. I know [Offensive Line] Coach [Mike] Munchak expects me to be able to hop in at center at any point, hop in at tackle at any point, and there’s multiple guys that play different positions across the O-line."

What's the latest from Broncos Camp? Don't miss out on any news and analysis! Take a second and sign up for our free newsletter and get breaking Broncos news delivered to your inbox daily!

While one might scoff at the idea of moving a player with All-Pro potential away from his original position, thus creating a new hole that needs to be filled, this wouldn't be such a major change for Risner.

A three-year starter at right tackle for the Wildcats, Risner is plenty capable of switching back to his natural position. In fact, he relishes that opportunity.

Risner knows that if his name gets called, he needs to be ready to do whatever is asked of him. He even goes so far to make sure he gets extra reps whenever he isn't on the field.

"One thing for me, just from my perspective, whether I hear it from a coach, or I don’t, I’m always going to make sure that I feel like I’m ready for me to hop in," the second-year pro explained.

"For a tackle, you’ve got to learn that it’s kick sliding. You’re dealing with guys like [OLB] Von Miller and [OLB] Bradley Chubb and [NT] Mike Purcell and [DL] Jurrell Casey. It’s a completely different type and style of play. Right now, I wish I could be getting extra reps in one-on-ones at tackle or in individual drills, but we’re not in that phase yet. Right now, all we are doing are walk throughs. For right now, it’s as much as, ‘Hey, when I’m done, I’m going to get five kick slides left and I’m going to get five kick slides right.’"

It may be an unpopular opinion, but moving Risner to tackle might be the best way for the Broncos to get their best starting five on the field in the way that all of them will be the most comfortable.

Yes, Risner was a rookie phenom in 2019 that bullied his way into highlight tapes at times, including bulldozing Phillip Lindsay into the end zone for a touchdown at Green Bay.

But with the struggles that Wilkinson had at right tackle last season, playing both Risner and Wilkinson at their more natural positions could prove to be an efficient and cohesive unit.

Whenever a team loses a starter for whatever reason, it haa to adapt and overcome in whatever way to help the team the most. Although Risner doesn't have any NFL experience playing on the outside, his tape at Kansas State was good enough to warrant a shot. After all, he was a second-round selection last year based on that tape — at right tackle.

Really, it boils down to what Munchak has in mind for his unit. As Risner said, versatility among the active players on gameday is a huge key to the line's success. Not only has he been working on his kick slides, he's been studying the subtle nuances to playing the center position as well; identifying the "Mike" linebacker, calling protections, working communication with his linemates, and of course, the footwork on a daily basis.

Wherever Munchak wants him to play, Risner is going to be ready.

"Obviously, that [technique] will tone up if Munchak ever comes to me and says, ‘Dalton, I need you to start working at tackle. There’s a good chance you go there. Dalton, I need you to go to center because you might be going there.’ I would definitely tone it up and do more, but I try to stay up-to-date with both positions.”

It'll be interesting to see how this all shakes out as training camp progresses, but after watching Wilkinson struggle mightily at tackle last season, I'm all for giving Risner a chance this year. 

Follow Lance on Twitter @SandersonMHH and @MileHighHuddle.

THANKS FOR READING MILE HIGH HUDDLE
Register today or log in to access this premium article.
Comments (15)
No. 1-9
dabomb
dabomb

Risner will do whatever to get a win. I'm sure Lock would love to have "the Beast" keeping people off him.

DJCTiburon
DJCTiburon

Excellent move. Now upgrade left tackle with FA All-Pro OG - Larry Warford quickly and this line will be an upgrade over 2019.

Wyobronco
Wyobronco

I have more confidence in Risner at RT than Wilkinson. I believe it’s easier to plug someone into guard than tackle.

Thomas Hall
Thomas Hall

Risner's attitude/mentality is incredible. He wants to win and will help in anyway he can to do that. However, I hope the team finds a viable replacement for James so Risner stays at guard.

Denverkewl
Denverkewl

Moving Risner just makes even more disruption to the line. How many new people playing new positions do you want? Nightmare. No, Munchak has to fix it and they are gonna bring in a vet - leave well enough alone with Risner.

Studlee14
Studlee14

I think the argument that you don't want to upset the apple cart by moving him from his established position is silly... because the broncos did just that when they asked him to play Guard when he had played Tackled at a high level in College.

I also think there's the option to move Glascow over to LG in order to give Bolles support and move Wilkinson to RG where he has experience playing.

But any way the Broncos decide to do it they need to sign someone to fill out the depth because despite what we all hope, Injuries will happen - and don't forget CV is still a thing.

birddogsII
birddogsII

Dalton Risner is a breath of fresh air. What a remarkable attitude. Saying that, I would hope Dalton remains at Guard.

Mr. Pioneer
Mr. Pioneer

One of the main reasons that Elway drafted Risner was his attitude. After so many troubled players on the o-line, it sure is nice to have a young guy that is so versatile. Moving him to RT would be an emergency move, but we shall see.

broncofan55555
broncofan55555

One of the major reasons that Risner probably will not be considered for RT is the limited number of practices and zero pre-season games that this pandemic has brought. If the Broncos were going to change Risner to a new spot, they would want to make sure he had TIME to learn and get back into the college groove. Time is what this pandemic has not allowed. Throwing this at him with a shortened pre-season would not be fair. He knows the LG spot well, and a shortened pre-season makes continuity and familiarity all that much more important.


News

FEATURED
COMMUNITY