Broncos-Seahawks preview: Allbright discusses position battles, Fields epilepsy report

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KXRM) — Tyler Bouldin caught up with KOA News Radio Broncos Insider Benjamin Allbright to chat about the quarterback and right tackle position battles, a recent report about Justin Fields’ epilepsy being a reason the Broncos passed on the Ohio State quarterback, and other talking points leading up to Denver’s second preseason game in Seattle against the Seahawks.

TYLER BOULDIN: “Who do you think, at the end of it all, will put the Broncos in the best position to win at this point?”

BENJAMIN ALLBRIGHT: “I think it’s Drew Lock. I think Drew Lock is ahead in this competition. I think he has the most upside. I think he’s the gonna be the guy, and I think he gives them the best chance to win. Don’t get me wrong, I like Teddy Bridgewater just fine, but he’s been around the league 7-8 years, he has some limitations, and there’s a reason he’s been passed around. Not just injury. It’s a guy with his skill set, his arm, which is not very strong, when you get behind the chains, you’re unable to make that up. If you get a holding penalty, now you’re backed up, it’s 1st and 20, he just doesn’t have the arm strength to make that up. He plays it safe, he plays the dink and dunk game like Alex Smith. If you have a great defense that plays like that that can get you to the playoffs, teams like that tend not to win. We saw that with Kansas City and Alex Smith.”

BOULDIN: “We got a glimpse of that arm strength from Drew Lock to KJ Hamler against the Vikings. Even though it was the Vikings backups, who sat pretty much everybody in that first week, obviously it’s a good sign regardless, but how much stock should we put into that considering it was the Vikings backups?”

ALLBRIGHT: “You can only play against what’s put in front of you. To put this distinctly, everybody’s talking about the Vikings backups. The Vikings sat 30 players. The Broncos sat 26. It wasn’t like there was a giant disparity. Drew went out and executed, and Teddy went and executed what was asked of him. You can only do that against the opponent you’re put up against. I would put stock in him in the sense of, ‘Did he do what was asked of him?’ Yes. Would I put stock in the sense he’s going to start every game 5 of 7 for 150 and two touchdowns, probably not.”

BOULDIN: “A lot of people were disappointed that Justin Fields wasn’t drafted instead of Pat Surtain II. It’s not a new report that we saw from (Yahoo! Sports reporter) Charles Robinson about Fields dealing with epilepsy. Fields told teams before the draft, right? I liked what you said, because of this information and teams not drafting him, that’s not a knock on the guy. What’s your take on this epilepsy thing and being a reason why the Broncos didn’t draft him?”

ALLBRIGHT: “It’s a piece of the puzzle. First of all, I know Charles. He’s a great reporter. I talked to him when he came out to camp a couple weeks ago. I had a good chat with him about stuff. Epilepsy is a piece of the puzzle. Epilepsy is something at this point in your life it doesn’t go away, and it doesn’t get better. It can be treated. It can be managed. There have been players that have managed it. If you’re an NFL team, and a new general manager getting ready to make the first pick of your tenure, a top 10 pick at that, I think you look at that and kind of say, ‘Okay, let me put a pause on here because I’ve got some other players I really like that don’t have these medical concerns.’ What gives me the best odds to be the most successful long-term? When it came down to it, while it factored into the equation along with other things, at the end of the day, it was a football decision. They had Pat Surtain II graded higher. They just went with it. It wasn’t like the Broncos were the only team that passed on Justin Fields. In fact, 12 teams did, including teams like the Giants and Eagles that don’t have quarterback situations settled or the Carolina Panthers, right in front of the Denver Broncos, who only have Sam Darnold out there. The idea that Denver should be a focal point because they passed on Justin Fields, I find to be interesting in the silly sense.”

BOULDIN: “Surtain has the physical aspects (6’2”, 208 lbs.) in his game, but we saw the mental instincts on that interception (against the Vikings). Do you think that’s something that can really separate him from the rest of the cornerbacks in that class?

ALLBRIGHT: “I think so. He was far and away the best corner in that class when I graded him out. Jaycee Horn going in front of him, there was some reach there. Pat Surtain has a lineage — his dad was in the NFL. He’s going to be a great cornerback in the NFL. He’s got size, speed, intelligence. To be honest with you, George Paton said something that people laughed at, and it’s actually true. It’s more difficult to find corners available — great quality corners year to year. There’s always churn and burn with the quarterbacks. We saw Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, and Matt Stafford all change teams, the possibility that Aaron Rodgers was going to, and Deshaun Watson before the legal trouble. There’s a lot of QB churn and burn every year. That’s just the good ones. George Paton, what he was saying, was factually correct. But people laughed at it because the Broncos weren’t sure about the QB situation with Lock and Bridgewater.

BOULDIN: “What are you hoping to see out of the game in Seattle? Vic Fangio mentioned that certain snap numbers for players will depend on how the game goes. Do you think there is a player or players that really need to make a statement?”

ALLBRIGHT: “I think Teddy Bridgewater is one. I think if he wants this job, he’s got to go out and hunt. He’s played it safe a little bit and done the veteran stuff. He’s got to go out and show that he’s got the long ball in his arsenal. If he can’t show that to the offensive coordinator, then what are you doing? You’re already limited to what you can run on the offense. I think if he has to go out there and wants the job, he’s got to go out there and take it. Drew Lock can afford to play safer. He’s padded the resume a little over the weeks. He’s got to play a clean game. I think the most interesting thing to me is the right tackle battle between Bobby Massie and Calvin Anderson. Massie was the presumptive favorite to win the job, but Anderson has played very, very well throughout camp in the preseason. He’s making a name for himself. If he doesn’t win that right tackle job, he’s going to be the backup left and right tackle both. Interesting battle brewing to protect the quarterback on the right side.”

BOULDIN: “I’m looking forward to seeing Mike Purcell. I think he’s a bigger part of the defense than people think. Do you hope they take it slow with him considering the injury he’s coming back from, or what would you like to see?”

ALLBRIGHT: “I’d like to see a couple reps just to see his feet under him. Any time you’ve got a game like this on turf on the road, sometimes you’re hesitant to put guys out there. I know Von’s not going to play because of that. I think with Purcell, he is such a huge part of anchoring the run game at the nose tackle position, and one of the underrated players at that, you want to get him back as quickly as possible, but you also want to be careful. You don’t want to err on the side of bringing him back to quickly, rush things and make it worse. Yeah, I’d like to see a few snaps, but if they don’t get to it, I’m okay with that. Just a few in that Rams game will be fine.”

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