Orlando Franklin Has No Problem With Position Switch

When moving from right tackle to left guard, the trick is to not stumble into two left feet.

The Big O of the Broncos is having no such problem.

"It's actually pretty similar footwork," said Orlando Franklin, the very large blocker who is making the blocking positional transition this spring. "I really won't know if I'm a good left guard in this league until in a few weeks, when I get to go against some D-tackles in this league (when organized team activities begin). It's different putting my hand down, but you talk about tracks as offensive linemen and the tracks are all the same."

Between the Broncos' star-power, free-agent haul in mid-March and their solid, if less splashy, draft selections last week, Franklin is the rare offensive lineman who became an offseason conversation topic.

He was a starting left guard and left tackle at the University of Miami, but when the Broncos selected him in the second round of the 2011 draft, they immediately put him at right tackle, were he had started for three consecutive seasons.

For season No. 4 in the NFL, the final year of his contract, Franklin is getting moved inside.

There were a couple of reasons for the switch. One, when the Broncos drafted Franklin, they were using a more balanced offense that in theory would mix a power-running style with 30 to 33 passes per game. Franklin was a 315-pound right tackle whose strength was run blocking.

When Peyton Manning became their quarterback two years ago, the Broncos shifted to a spread-'em-out, fast-breaking, short-passing offense.

They used more stretch-running schemes, and Manning has averaged 39 passes per game. The Big O on the outside was asked to be lighter on his feet.
At left guard, he will go inside and take on more big-bellied, super-strong defensive tackles than the faster, sleeker defensive ends and linebackers he faced at right tackle.

Initially, Franklin wasn't pleased when he was told of the proposed switch. But he is warming up to it.

"I always understood it was a possibility," he said after the Broncos' offseason workout Wednesday. "I knew when I was coming out that 50 percent of teams saw me at right tackle and 50 percent of the teams saw me moving back to guard because I played so many snaps there at Miami. But when I first heard about it, you get disappointed because you're moving positions. But at the end of the day, as long as I'm on the field and as long as I'm one of the best five, I'm happy with that."

Therein lies another reason for the switch: It gives Chris Clark a chance to stay in the starting five. Clark made 17 starts last season, including the playoffs, in place of injured all-pro Ryan Clady. Even though an occasional pass rusher presented matchup problems, Clark played well enough overall to warrant a starting position. With Clady returning to good health and left tackle, Clark is switching to right tackle.

Manny Ramirez remains the starting center and Louis Vasquez stays at right guard.

"I was told nothing is definite," Franklin said.

A position switch going into a contract year can be dicey for a player. A right tackle doesn't make the money that a left tackle makes, but the right side usually pays better than guards.

Then again, right tackles rarely are named Pro Bowlers, let alone honored as all-pro linemen. Left tackles hog those awards; the fourth- or fifth-best blindside blocker can receive mention before the top right tackle.

"I think that if I'm one of the best five players and I'm on the field, I think that benefits me either way, whether I'm playing right tackle or whether I'm playing left guard," Franklin said.

Bookmark and Share
blog comments powered by Disqus