The Denver Broncos are looking to find their starter at the right tackle position. During the offseason, the Broncos signed Tom Compton and Billy Turner to add competition for the starting job, and re-signed Calvin Anderson.
With a new franchise quarterback, the Broncos need to find a long-term answer at the right tackle position, and Anderson is the long-term option. Can the backup swing tackle finally crack the starting lineup?
Anderson is younger than his two main pieces of competition as he turned 26 years old in March, while Compton is 33, and Turner will turn 31 in October. After being born in Philadelphia, Anderson moved to Texas before high school.
Despite offers from more prominent schools, Anderson committed to Rice.
Anderson redshirted for his first year at Rice and went on to have a great three years before transferring to Texas. After the first year, he started 36 consecutive games at Rice, and in that span, he allowed 13 sacks and 61 total pressures.
Not many times did Anderson go up against tough competition often in those 36 games, but in the few that he did, Anderson did well. While he wasn't great in pass protection, he was solid, and his run blocking was solid as well.
When he transferred to Texas, his play was much the same, even with the jump in competition. He allowed seven sacks during the season and 26 total pressures and did well as a run blocker. One concern throughout his collegiate career was penalties, as he got called for 23 total penalties in college.
Without an invite to the pre-draft bowl games, Anderson would have a rough time standing out. However, it was a solid class for offensive tackles, and Anderson was only solid in college. Making things even more difficult was a lack of invite to the NFL Scouting Combine.
While he did well at his Pro Day, Anderson was still viewed as undersized for the NFL. He ended up with an 8.62 relative athletic score but went undrafted in the 2019 NFL draft.
After going undrafted, Anderson initially signed with the New England Patriots and landed on the New York Jets' practice squad. Then, the Broncos signed him to their active roster from the Jets practice squad, and he has remained with the Broncos since.
Anderson didn't see the field for the Broncos during the 2019 season, but the Broncos kept working and developing him with O-line guru Mike Munchak. Munchak had developed many offensive linemen in his career, and Anderson was another project for him.
For the 2020 season, Anderson started two games, one at each tackle spot. His first chance came at right tackle, and he had a rough game.
Anderson graded out with a 39.5 run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus, and his pass-blocking grade was 51.7 as he allowed five total pressures. His start at left tackle was much better, earning a 56.6 pass-blocking and a 60.6 run-blocking grade.
When watching his tape from both games, Anderson looked much more comfortable as the left tackle than the right tackle. Sometimes blockers are not as comfortable on one side, and Anderson's college experience was at left tackle. However, he has struggled whenever he's taken the field, even in preseason, as the right tackle.
For the 2021 season, Anderson got three starts at left tackle but saw action in five games. It was easy to see how comfortable Anderson was as the left tackle, and he played reasonably well. Playing 172 snaps as the left tackle, Anderson allowed seven total pressures with no sacks. He also did quite well as a run blocker.
Anderson has a shot to be the starting right tackle for the Broncos, but the question is, will he show the same level of comfort there as he has left tackle? That can only be answered once preseason games arrive and is likely one of the most prominent aspects holding him back.
Anderson has had some excellent practices in OTAs and minicamp but that setting makes it challenging to evaluate offensive linemen because of practice limitations. Turner and Compton have also put out more tape that is also higher quality, so it can be difficult for Anderson to overcome that.
However, if the Broncos want a long-term solution at the right tackle, the best option is Anderson if he steps up. He is significantly younger than his two counterparts and, barring freak injury, has more longevity ahead of him. Hopefully, Anderson can step up and take the job once training camp and the preseason arrives.
Follow Erick on Twitter @ErickTrickel.
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