One move the Denver Broncos made in free agency was to add Ben Braden, who knows the new coaching staff well. Nathaniel Hackett, Justin Outten and Butch Barry have a tough job ahead of them to figure out who the top five offensive linemen will be as their starters and their four or five deep plays. The question is, how much is or can Braden play in this conversation?
Braden is 28 years old and was born in Michigan. He stayed in state for college, attending the University of Michigan.
While at Michigan, Braden started for three years from 2014 to 2016. He played a total of 2,433 snaps on offense over the three years. During that span, he allowed 50 total pressures, including 19 in each of his last two seasons.
In his freshman year, he allowed his college high of three sacks before allowing just one, then two over the past two years. Plus, he was quite capable of protecting passes, even though Michigan was a near 50/50 rush/pass team.
Braden was also a proficient run blocker and helped Michigan make successful run plays. He was in the NFL with three solid years under his belt.
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Braden didn’t hear his name called in the NFL Draft, then signed with the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent.
He bounced back to the NFL in his first five NFL seasons after spending the 2017 and 2018 seasons with the Jets and most of 2019, but was released from their practice squad in September 2019.
This led to his first stint with the Green Bay Packers, where he signed on September 12, 2019, and lasted until November 7, when he was released from their practice squad.
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The Jets brought him back for the remainder of the 2019 season and most of the 2020 offseason, but waived him on August 3. This led to him landing with the New England Patriots, where he didn’t last a month.
After that, he got his second chance at Green Bay, signing in October 2020 and throughout the 2021 season. During his time there he got to see the pitch in 2020 and 2021, although he only played only nine shots in attack.
In January 2022, the Packers let him go and he found his way to the Denver Broncos on March 14.
Unless he’s taken a dramatic step in his development, Braden is unlikely to find a starting job, but he does have a shot at playing in the 53-man roster. He could use some help, maybe in the form of a trade, but the coaching staff knows him well and it’s been made clear they want him in Denver.
It will be interesting to see if he can earn a spot as an offensive line depth play as it looks like eight or nine spots for the 53-man roster allocated to the offensive line look filled. That’s why a trade could help his chances.
If he doesn’t make the roster, there’s a good chance he’ll find himself on the practice squad, thanks to eligibility changes over the past couple of years.
The Broncos have several offensive linemen recovering from injuries through OTAs and mini-camp, so Braden needed to make the most of his opportunities there. However, in training camp, those same linemen should be ready to go, which will make things more difficult for Braden.
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