On Tuesday, August, 11th, the Denver Broncos signed veteran RT Demar Dotson to a one year deal. Demar Dotson (34) is a giant human being at 6’9, 315 lbs who had spent his entire ten-year career playing right tackle with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers up until this point.
This news came after the Broncos starting right tackle and $51 million man, Ja’Wuan James, opted out of the 2020 season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Broncos signed James to the richest right tackle contract in NFL history in the offseason of 2019. The Broncos will, unfortunately, have to play the entire 2020 season sans James which will result in James only playing only SIXTY-FOUR SNAPS for Denver halfway into his 4-year deal. Because of this loss, the Broncos had no choice but to make a move at the tackle position which resulted in the signing of Demar Dotson.
Dotson is coming into the Broncos as the most experienced offensive lineman on the team and it isn’t even close. During his decade playing for the Bucs, Dotson started a total of 106 games. The offensive lineman with the next most starts under his belt would be another new addition in Graham Glasgow who has started about half as many games (58) in his 4 years playing guard and center for the Detroit Lions.
As one would expect, playing that many games over so many years in the NFL has clearly taken a toll on Dotson’s body. In the most simplistic way possible, he’s just not the player that he used to be. One thing he does have to his advantage though is his knowledge of the game. He might not be the most physical player out there anymore but he is certainly one of the smartest.
Despite Dotson’s mental advantage, it is still widely presumed that the Broncos will be going forward with the much younger Elijah Wilkinson at RT this upcoming season. In 2019, Wilkinson (25) started 12 games for Denver in Ju’Wuan James’ absence and showed enough promise and competence that he will likely be given another chance in 2020. With Wilkinson starting, the Broncos will be able to develop him further while also continuing to monitor his play. The Broncos currently have zero relevant names at the left tackle position under contract for 2021 and if Wilkinson plays well enough in 2020, he might take over the starting LT spot from the widely disliked Garret Bolles if the Broncos chose to let him hit free agency.
Where Dotson comes in to play will likely be a position of depth. Whether it is due to injury or poor play from either Wilkinson or Bolles, Dotson will probably get his shot in 2020 and when he does, he should fit in quite well.
Looking back at Dotson’s film from 2019 it became quite clear that he is still a solid player. He is no longer a stalwart run blocker as he is slightly below average but he is a more than competent pass blocker, a type of blocking which requires less athleticism and power and more technique and skill. Dotson’s ability to still hold his own in the pass blocking game is huge because the largest concern for the Denver is protecting its QB of the future, Drew Lock.
To wrap things up, below is how I believe the offensive tackle positions will shape up with 1 being the most likely and 3 being less likely.
1. LT Bolles, RT Wilkinson
2. LT Bolles, RT Dotson
3. LT Wilkinson, RT Dotson
UPDATE: A few weeks into training camp, Dotson is yet to take a legitimate amount o snaps with the first-team offense. He has been with the third and second time so far, but I believe this was to be expected. Dotson probably wasn’t fully prepared to get back to playing football as he was a free agent for the majority of the offseason. The Broncos will continue to see what they have in the young guys (Wilkinson, Rodgers, Anderson, etc.) and if they don’t see much improvement, don’t be surprised when Dotson does start taking first-team reps.