- Jeff Legwold, ESPN Staff Writer
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Whenever the Denver Broncos' chief decision-maker, John Elway, describes the developmental process, he will routinely offer "we don't draft All Pros, we have to make them."
And over the course of the next week we'll take a glimpse at a few key players who are at various stages of the developmental process. Some have been named to the Pro Bowl, some will be starters for the first time in the coming season.
But what they all have in common is more is expected of them than they could give, for a variety of reasons, in last season's run to the Super Bowl.
Today: Left guard Orlando Franklin
When Franklin was set to enter the 2011 NFL draft, he had started 25 games at left guard for the University of Miami, 13 at left tackle. And while most scouts believed he could be a valuable swing player in most any offense, a guy who could play inside at guard as well as the more power-oriented right tackle in the pro game, many of those evaluators believed he was a far more natural guard prospect over the long term.
The Broncos had guards -- Zane Beadles and Chris Kuper -- when Franklin arrived in the second round of that draft and they put Franklin where the job opening was along the front, at right tackle where Franklin started 47 games over the last three seasons. But with Beadles having left in free agency and the Broncos' desire to beef up on the interior, Franklin has moved to the inside.
And in the recent organized training activities and minicamp, it already looks like the move will have the desired effect. Franklin will be a powerful force in the run game, and on the inside any issues he had in pass protection will lessen on the interior.
A look at game video has consistently shown when Franklin got in trouble in pass protection on the edge. It showed how Franklin was concerned about surrendering the corner to a speed rusher when he would spread his arms out, almost to hook an outside rusher, rather than getting himself in position for the sturdy first contact from a more stable set.
As a result, Franklin was the most penalized player in the Broncos' lineup last season having been flagged 11 times overall, seven of those for holding. Chris Clark, who was filling in for the injured Ryan Clady, was next among the offensive lineman, with seven penalties overall.
And with the Broncos set to, again, run most of their offense out of a three-wide -- they worked out of the three-wide set 73.6 percent of the time overall last season and were close to 90 percent in the postseason -- their tackles are going to have work alone much of the time in pass protection.
Also, a move inside puts Franklin -- a savvy, hard-working player -- where his strengths will help a Broncos' running attack, usually facing lighter nickel and dime formations lined up to slow down the Broncos' offense.
Their run-game numbers on the inside were middle of the road during the regular season -- 18th in the league in runs over left tackle, 7th in runs over left guard (they had just 38 carries behind Beadles last season, however, so sample size a little smaller) and 15th over the center. Those weak-side runs were often against those smaller formations with fronts built for speed. So, the troubling numbers came in the postseason when the Broncos couldn't make any room in the run game against formations built to stop their passing game.
The Broncos averaged fewer than 2.5 yards per carry in three postseason games on runs over either the left tackle or left guard. And while they are not a running team in either word or deed, they will have to be one at times to close out the coming season the way they hope to.
And they believe Franklin's move will help them do it.
6dEric D. Williams