2011 PFF Rank: 30th
LT: Ryan Clady (1st round pick, 25 y/o)
LG: Zane Beadles (2nd round pick, 25 y/o)
C: J.D. Walton (3rd round pick, 24 y/o)
RG: Chris Kuper (5th round pick, 29 y/o)
RT: Orlando Franklin (2nd round pick-rookie, 24 y/o)
2012 PFF Rank: 4th
LT: Ryan Clady
LG: Zane Beadles
C: Dan Kopen (5th round pick, 33 y/o)
RG: Manuel Ramirez (4th round pick, 29 y/o)
RT: Orlando Franklin
The 2012 Denver Broncos saw themselves jump 26 spots in offensive line rankings after making two changes to their starters. They kicked off the rebuild by signing former pro-bowler Dan Koppen to a 1 year, $915,000 contract after the Patriots released him. The Broncos followed that move up by signing Manuel Ramirez to a 1 year, $685,000 contract. In addition, they saw their 2011 second-round pick, Orlando Franklin, take the next step in his development, giving the unit a boost.
What makes this rebuild so intriguing is that it didn’t require free agency moves that broke the bank. The team opted for veteran leadership over youth and it paid off. Another thing to note is that the makeup of the line didn’t consist of all first-rounders. The team was able to find starters who were taken in the fourth and fifth rounds.
Of course, adding Peyton Manning as the quarterback probably helped the Denver offensive line take such an impressive step forward. However, similar rebuilds have been done without bringing in a future Hall of Fame signal-caller.