There's no question Dalton Risner has been a shot in the arm for the Denver Broncos. Some might even call Risner's arrival to Denver a divine gift from the Football Gods.
When it comes to the eye test, Risner has easily been the best player on the Broncos offensive line, despite being the only rookie in the starting five. He's helped pave the way for some big gains on the ground and has already left an indelible impression on Broncos Country.
The eye test is one thing. But Risner has also acquitted himself well in the eyes of the top advanced analytics site.
Pro Football Focus has given Dalton Risner a 67.3 grade through five games, which makes him the second-highest graded rookie offensive lineman in the NFL. Comparing Risner to all offensive guards across the league, his cumulative grade ranks him No. 17 overall.
Not bad for a rookie through barely more than the first quarter of the season. Risner's impact on the Broncos O-line goes beyond just his play on the field.
Risner's intensity and enthusiasm have been the wind in the sails of the Broncos' offense. He and RB Phillip Lindsay — both homegrown Colorado boys — have established themselves as the emotional leaders on that side of the ball.
Risner's presence at left guard has also had a steadying, if not galvanizing, effect on the beleaguered Garett Bolles. Now in his third year, Bolles' season got off to a rocky start, as exemplified by his penalty-ridden Week 2 performance in which five flags were thrown on him, four of which were accepted and enforced.
That game was against the Chicago Bears at Empower Field at Mile High, in front of the home crowd. Even the most faithful of Broncos Country couldn't help but boo and jeer at Bolles, but Dalton Risner was having none of it.
At one point at the end of the second quarter, after a slew of Bolles' penalties had completely stalled a Broncos' drive, the boo-birds had reached a cacophony as the struggling tackle left the field and Risner — in no uncertain terms — told the frustrated fans to 'shut the ____ up'.
Risner's a ride-or-die teammate and that support and energy, combined with his play on the field, has been a true boon to Bolles. The coaching of Mike Munchak and Chris Kuper certainly hasn't hurt but my bet is that if Bolles didn't have Risner there next to him at left guard, we might not have seen him bounce back in the ensuing three games the way that he has.
Dalton Risner appears to be one of GM John Elway's few sure-fire draft picks on the offensive line. The rookie's legend is only just beginning in Denver.
I can only imagine he'll get even better and when it comes to the traditional 'rookie wall', bust right through it like he's lead-blocking on a goal-line dive.