Friend of Mile High Report and film breakdown guru for Inside the Pylon, Brandon Thorn, released his list of the Top 5 offensive linemen in the NFL through half the season.
Ron Leary of the Denver Broncos made his list at the guard position as the 2017 free agent addition has quietly asserted himself as one of the premier offensive linemen in the NFL.
Thorn breaks down what Leary has been doing to achieve this kind of success, noting all of the elite-level traits he possesses that got him there.
Leary picked up where he left off after a stellar 2016 season, demonstrating the same elite level competitive toughness throughout games that often irritates and gets underneath the skin of opponents. Leary is always looking to finish blocks, playing with incredible effort, physicality, and aggressiveness from snap-to-whistle for four quarters.
Furthermore, his ability to align his hips and elbows at the point of attack facilitates elite play strength and power to stun and control defenders, showing the rotational strength to turn, seal, and elevate smaller players off their feet for pancakes. Shows elite explosiveness out of his stance, particularly as a puller to open the play-side hip, get on his track, identify his target, fit, and finish with authority.
His hand placement is also very good; showing the placement, timing, and re-leveraging ability to anchor down against power in pass-protection. Whether inside or outside zone, traditional man-blocking concepts, or pass-protection, Leary has rare physical tools and OL critical factors that are unmistakable on film, and considering the context of being just 7 games into a position switch, he is more than deserving of being recognized as a 1st team All-Pro.
The improvement in offensive line play has been most notable in the run game, where the Broncos rushing attack - even during their rough month of football - has been dominant. In pass protection, the line as a group has held up better than it did in 2016, but the weaknesses there have not come Leary’s side.
When a line is as bad as it was in 2015-16, it takes years to fix and it certainly looks like John Elway has gotten things halfway there. They just need to find a right tackle and another guard to completely shore things up.
2017 Midseason NFL Offensive Line All Pros - Inside The Pylon
Regarding the study of offensive line play, Offensive Line Performance (OLP) founder and owner LeCharles Bentley delivered a message at the inaugural OLP OL Seminar in the summer of 2016 that resonated with me. “Appreciate the craftsmanship.”
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