Rookie minicamp preview: Matt Paradis

May, 15, 2014
5/15/14
5:35
PM ET
The Denver Broncos will bring their draft class into their Dove Valley complex this weekend for a three-day, welcome-to-the-show rookie minicamp.

All of the first-year players will get their indoctrination into the Broncos’ way on all things football starting Friday. So, at step one in their quest to earn a roster spot to go with some playing time in the regular season, it’s a good time to look at the prospects for each of those players in the six-player draft class.

Today: Sixth-round pick Matt Paradis

[+] EnlargeMatt Paradis
AP Photo/Michael ConroyCenter Matt Paradis captured the Broncos' attention with his smarts during a pre-draft meeting.
What does he bring to the table: Paradis, at 6-foot-2 5/8, 306 pounds, is for many scouts the kind of guy who plays better than his measurable. His speed – 5.28 in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine – wasn’t all that great and his measured strength of 23 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press didn’t put him among the top performers in Indy.

But he is a roll-up-the-sleeves center who has earned every inch he has gained in his playing career. Paradis is a small-town guy who played eight-man football in high school in Idaho as he played on a state champion, was the state’s player of the year and won a state title in the discus.

Prospects for playing time: It would likely be a slower go for Paradis to earn significant playing time. Manny Ramirez was the starting center last season in an offense that scored a single-season record 606 points as quarterback Peyton Manning was the least-sacked passer in the league.

The Broncos then dove in during free agency and signed Will Montgomery with the intention he could be the team’s starting center. But Ramirez is set to enter his eighth NFL season while Montgomery is set to enter his 10th, so there is room for a 20-something at the position.

A former defensive tackle when he arrived at Boise State, Paradis has consistently shown the ability to move defenders in the run game and is effective with the initial strike with his hands. He understands where the rushers are coming from out of various defensive fronts and plays with quality balance as well as toughness. The Broncos coaches were impressed with his knowledge of the position during a pre-draft visit.

That all makes him a quality developmental prospect who figures to do what needs to be done to prepare himself to play because of top-tier work ethic. This is a guy who completed a double major in business economics and finance and started his career as a walk-on.

“Once I converted and bought into the tradition and bought into becoming an offensive player which is kind of a different mindset -- it’s been working great for me and I enjoy it tremendously now,’’ Paradis said. “It’s pretty surreal. I came from a really small town as a walk-on and it’s just kind of a situation you never think can happen and it happened. It’s pretty amazing.’’

Biggest hurdle to playing time: He tore an ACL in 2007 when he was still in high school and some scouts believe he’s had a hip injury in the past, so some teams had some durability concerns over the long haul.

But Paradis started 25 games over his last two seasons combined in Boise. His real challenge will be to add strength to handle the bigger, more physical defensive tackles. The Broncos had some concern he wasn’t over 300 pounds during the pre-draft process, so his frame likely already has the weight it can handle.

The bottom line: This is a guy who plays with balance, leverage and smarts who also has a quality work ethic. That gives him a chance if he pays attention and can add some strength to deal with some of the bigger interior linemen he will now face.

“I’m just coming in there and I’m going to compete and do everything I can to help the team,’’ Paradis said. “Whatever role they decide for me, that’s what I’m going to do.’’

Jeff Legwold

ESPN Denver Broncos reporter

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