Draft season is a period where scouts, analysts and fans speculate for months about potential players that can improve their team. People love to be on the ground floor in accurate predictions, and in being an early Nostradamus for the next NFL superstar. It is a period of assumptions, misinformation and rumors. Like the nature versus nurture debate the draft inspires the ‘best talent or greatest need’ discussion. As the chips fell Thursday night in became apparent the Broncos had solidly decided to address the greatest need for our team by selecting Tackle Garett Bolles , University of Utah with our first round pick.
The selection has raised many eyebrows in both professional and fan circles for a multitude of reasons. Selecting Bolles at 20 is problematic for many who believe much the Broncos’ left greater talent on the board and Bolles is a potentially second round selection. He has a significantly troubled past, and scored a 9 on the Wonderlic (Bolles has been very candid about his struggles with learning disabilities) . At 25 he is old to be a rookie draft project, and must be capable of starting strong and fast or he will be considered a bust. Many fear Bolles lack of experience playing in a pro-style system, his run block skills rather than pass protection ability don’t seem a great fit with our new high-flying McCoy offense, and lots of scouts are skeptical of his actual blocking technique at an NFL level.
So there’s the sky is falling side of the narrative.
But despite murmurs the Broncos’ were going to make some explosive trades for fan-favorite homegrown Christian McCaffrey, it appears that Bolles has been their top prospect all along for both his physical talents and hard driving attitude on the field. Elway and company believe they have found the offensive line compliment to Derek Wolfe, which if it pans out will be fantastic.
Despite all of the potential detractions, the Broncos clearly see amazing potential in Bolles. He showed outstanding athleticism at the combine, running the 40 yard dash in 4.95 seconds, excellent footwork in short shuttle and cone drills, an excellent leaping skills tied for the fifth-best broad jump by an offensive lineman since 2006 (leaping 9 feet, 7 inches). Scouts do believe with proper coaching in technique, and discipline against unnecessary penalties, Bolles has Pro Bowl potential and excellent combination of athletic explosiveness and nasty play-making.
If this potential is met-our Broncos’ cup runneth over. So let’s see what our coaching staff and organization can do with this big bad dude.
Bolles was one of the highlights at day one of the draft because of draft baby: his four month old son Kingston. In the raucous Philly atmosphere, seemingly everyone got a tremendous kick out of seeing our newest giant OL beast cuddling his tiny guy, and then lifting him over his head wrapped in a Broncos’ jersey Lion King-style.
Bolles is particularly thrilled to be a Broncos’ player, and has tremendous love for the state of Colorado:
“That is where my heart’s at. The people that I served there on my mission; I have people there that I love and that I still talk to so now when I say I’m coming home, I really am coming home to the people that I love dearly. Now that I’m here and now that I’m a Bronco, it’s just a surreal moment and I’m so grateful and honored. I’m grateful to show everyone there that I love them all and I can’t wait for them welcome me soon…Now you guys get another kid that has his heart there and a passion to play for this team. I’m just beyond grateful that you drafted me to be a part of this organization.”
One of the other great highlights from last night is watching Bolles speak to Elway after his selection. Clearly all heart and enthusiasm, the big guy told Elway he loves him on the call-which clearly cracked Elway up, as he told him “we love you too.”
Hope it’s a match made in heaven. Time will tell.
On whether he expected to be drafted by Denver “I had a feeling but I knew at the same time there were so many things going on the last couple weeks. I’m beyond grateful. Mr. Elway is such a great man and I’m so honored that I get to represent this team and this community. Not only that, but Mr. Bowlen, the owner of our organization, I know he’s been struggling with Alzheimer’s disease, so I hope I get to meet with him and show him love and show him that I am thankful to be a part of this team that he owns. This is a dream come true. I love Colorado and I love Denver. It’s very near to my heart because that’s where I served my mission and I’m just excited to get to work with such a great organization.”
On how soon does he think he can compete at the NFL level “I’m excited to be there and learn as much as I can and I’m excited to work with guys like Von Miller, him being a defensive end and pass rusher. He’s so powerful and we have some amazing pass rushers. I’m just excited to work with him, learn from him and just have him help me in all aspects of my game so that when game time comes, I’m ready to help us win.”
On his nastiness on the field and his upbringing “My coach always told me to finish and that’s what I bring to the game. My dad always told me that if you show your numbers, you’re a dead man. Football is such an amazing game that God has made and I get to play it with a bunch of men. I love football, and when I’m off the field I love you all. You’re all my family, but when you’re in a different color jersey, I’m coming after you to help my team win. I’m just grateful. This is such a surreal moment. I’m grateful for all of you and I’m glad to meet you all tomorrow. I know you guys are getting an awesome kid that’s humble, hungry and ready to play football and help us win another Super Bowl.”
On what he wanted to show the Broncos during his most recent pre-draft visit “That I can recall information and that I can play football. My film speaks for itself, so they just wanted to see the type of person that I am. Everyone here knows my story, and they just want to see the kind of person I am. They knew the kind of person I am when I came there and showed them that I’m a family man. Faith, family and football is what I stand by and what I will continue to stand by for the rest of my life. That’s what means the most to me, my faith and my family. Football is third on my list. I’m just very grateful because without those two major things in my life I wouldn’t be able to play football. Mr. Elway told me he was going to see me on Thursday when I visited him last week, and he’s a man of his word. I’m just so honored and grateful to be a part of this organization.”
On if he expects to be a starter to open the season “I plan to start as soon as possible. That is my goal. They drafted me with a high draft pick, so they have a lot of expected of me and they expect me to come in and work hard. That’s what I’m going to do. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but you can count on me to come in and work my butt off. I’m going to earn that spot. I don’t want them to give it to me, I want to earn it. That’s what happened at Utah. They told me I could come in and play if I earned it, and that’s what I did. I’m going to come in to rookie mini camp and I’m going to earn my spot. You can count on that. I’m going to come in and work my butt off, get the job done and try to help out our guys up front.”
On what he thinks the hardest challenge will be as he transitions into the NFL “I don’t think it’s going to be a challenge. You make it as hard as you want. You can either make it easy on yourself or hard. You’re doing the same thing over and over again. You’re taking care of your body, working out and getting strong, doing extra work after practice. You’ve got to learn from the best, in guys like Von Miller, and guys that have been here for a very long time to make yourself a better player. Staying out there and watching film, it’s stuff like that is going to make me a better player. Every guy here is good. There is not just a couple guys on your team, like in college, that are top-of-the-line guys. You can kind of tell who’s good and who’s not, but now that you’re in the NFL, every single player that plays every single down is good. That means you’re good too, and I’ve just got to believe in myself that I know what it takes to be an NFL offensive lineman. That’s what I plan on doing. I’m grateful to meet you all tomorrow.”