Should the Denver Broncos release a depth chart today, listed at right tackle likely would be Billy Turner OR Tom Compton OR Calvin Anderson. As new offensive coordinator Justin Outten revealed, there is not yet an understood starter four months before the season-opener.
Instead, by design, there's an open competition between the troika — and may the best blocker win.
“I think we have really good options at that position," Outten told reporters on May 14. "I think it’s a very competitive position. It’s a veteran position. There are three guys with Billy, Tom, and Calvin. Those guys can battle it out, and I’m really excited about that position just to see how it plays out.”
Interestingly, Turner, Compton, and Anderson all put pen to paper on one-year contracts this offseason. The belief is that Denver will re-evaluate the group in 2023, possibly awarding a second, longer-term deal to whoever shows best.
More interestingly, the club opted to bypass tackle during last month's NFL draft, selecting only fifth-round center Luke Wattenberg. The trend continued.
Turner followed Outten and rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett from Green Bay. He's the most experienced OT on the roster with 68 career starts (including 11 for the Broncos in 2018), and thus should be considered the tentative favorite to break the huddle Week 1.
Protecting Russell Wilson — the league's most sacked quarterback since 2017, a factor that expedited his Seahawks divorce — is the top priority. Per Pro Football Focus, Turner ceded three sacks across 497 pass-block snaps for the Packers last season, earning an ally in Hackett.
“Billy is the best, man. I mean, he’s such a great dude," Hackett said in March. "I think that with him—looking back at it, his experience through the flexibility and how he played—he would jump from one position to the other was something that would always blow me away. It was something I would talk to him about just how he approached it and how he works every day as a pro to be able to do something like that and play right tackle, left tackle, right guard. I mean, it’s really unbelievable. Just as a man as he is off the field is just awesome. I love him. I’m so excited to have him on our team.”
Nevertheless, the battle along Wilson's strong side underscores Denver's ever-changing front five, which also could see new starters at left guard and center, replacing Dalton Risner and Lloyd Cushenberry, respectively.
“It’s just a matter of just getting on the field and practicing—that’s the bottom line," Outten said. "It’s way too early to go through that. It’s just the evaluation part of this. We’re all new and just feeling each other out. That’s the fun part about this transition. The guys understand that this is a competitive environment but it’s also good to help your teammates. If you go down with a shoelace and you’re not coaching that guy up and taking him under your wing, that’s the next guy up that’s going to help us try to win the [AFC] West. You’re all working together as a team and those guys have been really feeding off each other in that room.”
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