The Broncos will get another face-to-face with a player who could be a viable and coveted option for them in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft. According to a league source, the team is scheduled to fly in former Utah left tackle Garett Bolles for a visit this week.
Bolles met with the Broncos at the NFL combine in Indianapolis and is widely regarded as one of the top three tackles in the draft, along with Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk and Alabama’s Cam Robinson, the latter of whom met with the Broncos last Wednesday.
Bolles (6-foot-5, 297 pounds) played two years at Snow College, about 100 miles south of his hometown Saratoga Springs, Utah. It was at Snow that Bolles, a two-time junior college All-American, continued to turn his life around after a difficult childhood that included multiple school suspensions, run-ins with the law and jail time, and drug use.
“Many of you guys know my story,” Bolles said at the combine. “I’m a changed man, and I know exactly what I want and where I’m going. I just got married a year ago. I have a son, so I’ve got to take care of them and show them what I’m going to do.”
Part of his turnaround, he said, was due to a mission trip in Colorado Springs before he went to Snow. Potentially returning to Colorado as a Bronco is an opportunity he said he’d welcome.
“I love Colorado. I have a heart there, because those are the people that I taught on my mission. So if I end up going there, I’d be just fine,” he said. “But I don’t care where I go. Wherever I end up, I’ll be happy.”
Bolles transferred to Utah in 2016 and in his lone year of FBS football was named a first-team All-Pac 12 selection as the Utes’ starting left tackle. Now he figures to be among the most sought-after players in the draft.
Although the class of 2017 is said to be relatively weak in tackle talent, Bolles has stood out for his athleticism and quickness, two things high on the list of Broncos head coach Vance Joseph.
Bolles flashed both at the combine with a 4.95-second 40-yard dash and 115-inch broad jump that ranked second and first, respectively, among participating offensive lineman.
“We have to go into the draft with an open mind as far as taking the best player for our needs,” Joseph said. “It’s a combination of both. It’s not only the best player, but it’s your need. If there is a tackle there that has a first-round grade from us, that’s awesome.”
The Broncos acquired guard Ron Leary and tackle Menelik Watson in free agency to bulk up the line, and then they restructured the contract of tackle Donald Stephenson. Along with Ty Sambrailo and Michael Schofield, the Broncos have four veterans who can play the edges, but no clear starter for either side. Yet.
Denver’s offensive line was its biggest weakness last season, with the tackles causing the most problems, especially in protection. With Russell Okung’s departure, filling the left side has been a priority, but Joseph has made it clear he wants to find a pair of starting tackles equal in ability.
“We need to acquire tackles who can block speed,” he said. “In our division, every team has two (rushers) so it’s a concern for all of us in the division blocking edge rushers. Left or right? Not concerned. I want two guys who can block speed rushers.”
Bolles could be one.