- Jeff Legwold, ESPN Staff Writer
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – ESPN used 85 voters from the network’s many NFL platforms as well as Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus to rank the league’s top 100 players on offense and top 100 players on defense.
Certainly that will put him on the short list of guards listed in what will be a sea of skill position players, but overall that’s too low.
Vasquez is how free agency is supposed to work. Team sees good player on open market in his prime and signs him for what is elite money for his position.
Vasquez signed a four-year deal for $23.5 million before the 2013 season. That was the longest, most lucrative deal the Broncos handed out in free agency that year, and he went on to be the first Broncos guard to be named first-team All-Pro since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. And he's still just 27.
Vasquez, an imposing figure, plays with power, but the striking thing about how he plays is how clean it all looks, even in the scrum that is the line of scrimmage. The Broncos believed, before Vasquez's arrival, too many of the "loopers'' -- inside stunts from the defensive linemen -- were getting to quarterback Peyton Manning, and Vasquez's game video consistently showed his ability to find the most dangerous rusher in traffic and take care of business.
Defensive players continually talk about how when Vasquez gets his hands on them “it’s tough to get away,’’ as Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe has put it. “The guy is huge.’’
Vazquez has been flagged just five times in 70 regular-season games, with four of those penalties having been assessed. Last season he was flagged three times -- two false starts and a holding penalty -- but was not flagged again after Week 7. Before he arrived in Denver, he had been flagged just twice in his tenure with the San Diego Chargers -- a false-start penalty on a field goal attempt on Oct. 24, 2010, against the Patriots, and a holding call in Week 6 of his rookie season that was declined.