Broncos' OG Dalton Risner Won't be Satisfied Until he Becomes a '10-Year All-Pro' in Denver
Denver Broncos' GM John Elway knew he was getting a stand-up guy when he selected Kansas State OL Dalton Risner early in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The native of Wiggins, Colorado subsequently went on to prove his playing ability by achieving All-Rookie honors from the PFWA and Pro Football Focus after starting all 16 games at left guard for the Broncos.
For most rookies, receiving any recognition would be extremely satisfying, but not for Risner. The 24-year-old blocker wants to press the accelerator pedal on his career as he enters year two; he is now looking for a whole lot more out of himself moving forward.
“I am not proud of that honor. People bring it up, and I try to not be rude. That’s not what I am after. I want to dominate,” the Risner recently told Troy Renck of Denver7. “I thought I had a good year, but [expletive] Troy, I wasn’t All-Pro. I wasn’t in the Pro Bowl. That’s not cool with me.”
While he is setting himself a whole new set of individual goals, Risner still remains totally focused on being a team player. That was something that was obvious last season in both Risner’s words and actions; he always came across as a man who was eternally grateful to be suiting up for the team he rooted for as a young kid.
“How blessed am I to be able to play the game I love? Run out there at Empower Field and look at the seats where I used to sit as a kid wishing I played,” Risner told CBS Denver at season's end.
In order to fully capitalize on the opportunities he has been afforded, Risner is now rebooting his own expectations and raising his personal bar of performance significantly for 2020. As Broncos' well-respected O-Line Coach Mike Munchak continues to reshape and toughen up the beleaguered starting five, his left guard's own huge ambitions fit perfectly with the core DNA of the re-energized unit.
“By no means did I dominate every single game. That’s what I want to do – put guys in the ground. I want to be an All-Pro for the Broncos,” Risner told Renck. “I don’t want to play for anyone else. I want to be an All-Pro 10-plus years here. Some might say that’s too lofty, But that’s what I’m after. I am not going to be satisfied until I am there.”
Given the recent and now persistently loud chatter that Elway is considering adding an offensive tackle in the first round of the draft, the Broncos' commitment to bolstering the offensive trenches is very real. Having a guard that can put in dominant performances for a decade would be a dream ticket for Elway, who is trying to fast-track the Broncos back into playoff contention.
The ever-growing priority to establish a group that can really put their hand in the dirt and bully opposing teams has been magnified ever since Drew Lock emerged as the franchise's answer at quarterback.
After Elway decided to splash big dollars to acquire ex-Chargers RB Melvin Gordon in free agency to pair with back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher Phillip Lindsay, establishing some running lanes is now essential. It would serve the dual purpose of controlling the clock and keeping the likes of Patrick Mahomes safely on the sidelines.
All of this, when coupled with recent bullish statements made by team leaders like Von Miller and Lock, has genuinely raised expectations for 2020 throughout Broncos Country. It now very much looks like you can add Risner's name to the list of confident and ambitious young Broncos.
It also serves as a reminder to Elway for the forthcoming draft to concentrate on selecting players with similar high character and leadership qualities, who buy into being committed professionals. Having no shortage of self-motivation is always a good starting point for a successful NFL career, and Risner knows all about that.