Will the Broncos have an offensive lineman make the Pro Bowl this year?
That is the question.
This is the debate.
It’s been nearly a decade since the Denver Broncos last had an offensive lineman make the Pro Bowl.
Ryan Clady’s Pro Bowl in 2014 was the last time the organization had an offensive lineman in the Pro Bowl. Garett Bolles was, however, named a second-team All-Pro in 2020, but did not make the Pro Bowl.
This offseason, the Broncos invested nearly $150 million into two offensive lineman with the hopes of ending that drought.
As it stands after the draft, Garett Bolles will start at left tackle, Ben Powers at left guard, Lloyd Cushenberry at center, Quinn Meinerz at right guard and Mike McGlinchey at right tackle.
Can just one of those players breakthrough and have a Pro Bowl season?
The Broncos WILL have at least one Pro Bowl offensive lineman — Zac
Among their five projected starting offensive lineman, all but Cushenberry are locks to be starters. And Cushenberry is as close to a lock as possible.
Among those four, there are two first-round picks (Bolles and McGlinchey) and three players making north of $12.5 million per year (Bolles, McGlinchey and Powers). Bolles and McGlinchey are making $17 million per year.
The Broncos aren’t just relying on one offensive lineman to be great. They are relying, counting, and hoping that at least three can be in the Pro Bowl conversation. Out of those three, at least one should have a Pro Bowl year.
Additionally, Meinerz has flashed Pro-Bowl potential before, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he had his break-out year too.
This year, the Broncos are spending the sixth-most money on their offensive line in the entire NFL by average annual value. They aren’t doing that to just have an average group. They need a star or two to emerge.
The two most likely candidates are McGlinchey and Powers. Not only are they Denver’s two best offensive linemen, but they both got national attention this offseason when they received massive contracts by the Broncos. Whether it’s right or wrong, being in the national spotlight helps players make Pro Bowls.
Last year, Powers was one of the best interior offensive linemen in the NFL. Typically, a player doesn’t get the national recognition until they have two good years in a row. If Powers has a good season this year, he should be in a prime position to get the credit he deserves.
The Broncos’ decade-long streak of not having a Pro Bowl offensive lineman will end in Sean Payton’s first year in Denver.
The Broncos will NOT have a Pro Bowl offensive lineman — Henry
In each of the past two seasons, 23 offensive linemen have been selected to the Pro Bowl. In 2021, 15 teams had a lineman selected. In 2022, 14 teams had a linemen selected.
Those numbers suggest that there’s about a 50-50 chance of a team having a lineman go to the Pro Bowl, but there’s more to it than that. Very little turnover occurs among the Pro Bowl selections for the offensive line from season to season.
Of the 15 teams that had a Pro Bowl lineman in 2021, 11 also had a Pro Bowl lineman in 2022. Only three new teams—Green Bay, Houston and Miami—were added to the list.
The Broncos have a better chance than most teams of making the leap, since they paid big money to Mike McGlinchey and Ben Powers, who could be their best linemen on the roster. But there’s bad news on that front as well: the Broncos still don’t have any Pro Bowl experience among their linemen.
Of the 12 AFC linemen who made the Pro Bowl in 2022, half had also played in the previous year’s game. A couple more played in multiple consecutive Pro Bowls leading into 2021, and played in the 2022 Pro Bowl, but were injured in 2021 and didn’t earn the honor. Other Pro Bowl-caliber linemen, like the Chargers’ Rashawn Slater, were near-locks to make the Pro Bowl in 2022, but injuries ruined their season.
Of the four AFC linemen who made their first Pro Bowl appearance in 2022, three played center. In theory, this should be the easiest place to earn a spot since nobody has a stranglehold, like Terron Armstead, Orlando Brown, Joel Bitonio and Quenton Nelson do at other positions. (All of those players have been to at least four Pro Bowls.) But center is the weakest position on the Broncos’ line, so it seems unlikely they can take advantage.
Denver made huge strides in its upgrades to the offensive line, but a lineman earning a Pro Bowl spot is still unlikely, especially for a team that has only produced one total Pro Bowl appearance in the past two seasons. And that’s before you factor in that Russell Wilson is typically among the league leaders in sacks taken, which skews the odds further out of his linemen’s favor.