Tag Archive for Philip Blake

Denver Broncos: 3 Key Offensive Players Not Named Peyton Manning

Philip Blake (Courtesy of Bleacher Report)

Let’s face it: Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning—one of the most marketable players in the NFL.

The four-time MVP’s marketability rose to even greater heights after returning to the league following a seemingly decade-long hiatus (really just one season in actuality).

Now the on-field general of the Denver Broncos, Manning, 36, has garnered the majority of nationwide attention during the start of NFL training camps (Tim Tebow notwithstanding). The World Wide Leader made it its business to place Manning and the Broncos’ camp front-and-center on Day 1 of its coverage yesterday.

It’s fair to say that we all expected this development.

Obvious Broncos’ story lines aside, what are some of the other noteworthy offensive players on this roster?

Let’s highlight three that might otherwise escape the attention of the masses.

Philip Blake (C)

As adept as Manning is at avoiding sacks with his impeccable footwork and quick release, he still needs men up front to fend off the pass rush.

J.D. Walton manned the center position in 2011. He ranked dead last among all centers according to Pro Football Focus.

Thankfully for Broncos fans, Denver drafted Philip Blake in the fourth-round this past April. Many pundits considered him one of the top centers in his class and worthy of a higher draft pick.

It is up to the former Baylor product to establish a smooth connection with Manning in the early goings and provide some semblance of protection—something that Walton struggled with mightily last season.

Whether he wants to admit his fragility or not, neck fusion surgery is serious business. Blake and the rest of the offensive line must ensure Manning stays off the turf.

Jacob Tamme (TE)

Tamme posted career numbers in 2010 when Manning last played in the National Football League. Without Manning in 2011…not so much.

The two clearly established a connection together in Indianapolis that was severed when No. 18 went down. Expect big production from this duo in 2012 now that they’re reunited.

The tight end position is as important a weapon as any for Manning and his quick-strike offense. He utilizes that offensive target in dynamic ways not rivaled by many in the NFL. Remember, it wasn’t so long ago (2009) when he made an All-Pro out of Dallas Clark.

Tamme will serve as Manning’s go-to guy throughout the season. Do not be surprised if he eclipses his 2010 statistical output.

 Demaryius Thomas (WR)

Much of me wanted to include another Broncos receiver on this list.

However, Eric Decker (said receiver) was the leading pass catcher in 2011 and I expect him to compile similar stats in 2012.

The wideout more deserving of inclusion is Demaryius Thomas.

Despite showing periodic moments of his immense talent, Thomas has been largely a bust since being drafted in the first round in 2010.

Mr. Manning will change all of that.

No. 18 has a knack for maximizing the potential even among unheralded late-round draftees in his offensive repertoire (see: Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon).

With players emerging from the first-round talent pool, well, things just get that much better (see: Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne).

Manning will elevate Thomas’ production as of yet unseen in his brief career. He’ll produce a stat line the equivalent of what he totaled during the past two seasons now with Manning throwing him the ball.

He’ll instill a tireless work ethic and teach Thomas the requisite nuances of the wide-receiver position to help him become the player he was drafted to be.

The Manning-to-Thomas connection will be something to watch for in 2012.

Denver Broncos Draft Grades: Grading 2012 Selections

Courtesy of Denver.CBSLocal.com

It goes without saying that the undeniable highlight of the Denver Broncos’ offseason was signing free agent Peyton Manning.

The future Hall of Famer captivated the nation during the process of deciding on which team to call home for the rest of his career. With the help of John Elway, Executive V.P. of Operations and HOF quarterback himself, Denver beat out the other lustful NFL suitors.

After Manning officially signed his contract, all attention focused on how the Broncos would surround him with offensive weapons and improve the team overall. As it turned out, the latter came to fruition more so than the former.

I’ll provide in-depth analysis and grades for each Broncos selection in the first three rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft. I’ll then summarize the rest of the picks and give an overall grade.

 

Round 2 (No. 36 Overall): Derek Wolfe, DT, Cincinnati

The Broncos traded out of the first round with the Buccaneers into the fourth selection of the second round. They tabbed defensive tackle Derek Wolfe with that pick.

Wolfe is an underrated D-lineman that operates with maximum effort on every down. His tremendous productivity in college corroborates his work ethic and playmaking ability (21.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks).

He’s extremely versatile in that he can play any position along the line. He’ll likely fulfill the role of defensive tackle for the Broncos after the team lost Broderick Bunkley to the New Orleans Saints in free agency.

At 6’5”, 295 pounds, Wolfe will be a formidable presence inside between Robert Ayers and Elvis Dumervil on 4-3 sets. He will also play 3-4 defensive end if and when the Broncos utilize that base defense.

While some might qualify this pick as a reach, I’d argue against that. Wolfe rates as an above-average pass-rusher, run-defender and with regards to his quickness and motor. He satisfies a major need as well.

Grade: A-

 

Round 2 (No. 57 Overall): Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State

The logic of his selection is readily apparent. The Broncos clearly want a project QB to develop under the tutelage of one the best of all time. Osweiler started only one full season at ASU, but has a big arm and massive upside.

With that said, I believe the Broncos should have targeted an offensive lineman or skill position poised for an immediate impact.

Perhaps the value wasn’t quite there, but LSU’s Rueben Randle (WR) would have been a nice offensive weapon for Manning. Aside from Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker (Andre Caldwell?), Denver is pretty thin at the wide receiver position. Tight end Dwayne Allen out of Clemson would also have provided a dynamic pass-catching option with appropriate value. The team must be comfortable with Jacob Tamme in that role.

Osweiler could very well develop into the quarterback of the future, so it isn’t a horrible pick. Plus, it is Peyton Manning we’re talking about here. He’s proven time and again to make relative unknown receivers and tight ends into NFL stars. His legendary quick release could also negate the deficiencies along the O-line and prevent another neck surgery.

Grade: C

 

Round 3 (No. 67 Overall): Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State

I really enjoyed this pick. Hillman will provide a solid 1-2 punch alongside the aging but 30-year-old Mr. Renaissance, Willis McGahee.

Hillman proved in his two starting years at SDSU that he is a complete back and is fully capable of shouldering the load. He  tallied 311 carries for 1,711 yards (impressive 5.7 average) and 19 touchdowns during his sophomore campaign. He also caught 24 passes out of the backfield for 270 yards and a score.

The Broncos cast of RBs outside of McGahee were a lousy bunch, so Hillman will provide a much needed dynamic. Even at only 5’9”, 200 pounds, he can serve as the future starter if paired with another back. It remains to be seen if Bernard Pierce or Robert Turbin would have been better selections.

What is certain is that manning will greatly appreciate his all-around skill set as a receiver and in pass protection.

Grade: B+

 

Round 4 (No. 101 Overall): Omar Bolden, CB, Arizona State, Grade: B

Very productive as a corner and returner at ASU;  recorded seven INTs (two returned for scores) and two touchdowns off kickoff returns; instinctual/proficient in both man- and cover schemes; good tackler; potential replacement for Champ Bailey; major red flag over durability: two torn ACLs; missed entire 2011 season; Brandon Boykin was still on the board

Round 4 (No. 108 Overall): Philip Blake, C, Baylor, Grade: A-

Quality/powerful center; appropriate value in the fourth; should serve as replacement for the awful J.D. Walton (No. 32-rated center) https://www.profootballfocus.com/data/by_position.php?tab=by_position&season=2011&pos=C&stype=r&runpass=&teamid=-1&numsnaps=25&numgames=1

Round 5 (No. 137 Overall): Malik Jackson, DT, Tennessee, Grade: B-

Broncos need all the help they can get at DT; could play both DE as well; 22 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks between 2010-11; drafted a little high

Round 6 (No. 188) Overall): Danny Trevathan, OLB, Kentucky, Grade: B-

Insanely productive; 287 tackles (27.5 for loss), four INTs, 12 passes defensed and nine forced fumbles in final two seasons

 

Overall Grade: B (satisfied major needs other than WR)

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