The Denver Broncos never seemed sold on any of their pre-draft left tackle possibilities.
New coach Vance Joseph mentioned backup Donald Stephenson and free-agent pickup Menelik Watson, but both struggled in their previous work on the left side. General manager John Elway cited the possibility of using Ty Sambrailo, who started at left tackle in the first three games of the 2015 season but has dealt with labrum and elbow injuries since then.
None seemed palatable. Garett Bolles, on the other hand, did.
When he was available with the No. 20 pick, the Broncos pounced, making the Utah product the first offensive lineman taken Thursday and marking the latest point in the common-draft era at which the initial offensive lineman was taken.
"He was our target," Elway said.
It was no surprise that it took so long for one to be selected. This year's line class is perhaps the thinnest in quality and depth in recent memory. Only one other offensive lineman was selected in the first round -- Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk to the New Orleans Saints with the No. 32 pick.
Joseph said it was "very close" between Bolles and Ramczyk, but the difference between the two was clear in their estimation.
"The ceiling was much higher on Garett," Elway said. "We really liked that ability and the explosiveness that he has -- and also the mentality that he's going to bring. I think he brings a great mentality to that offensive line that needed a jolt."
Joseph also said he sees Bolles as better in pass protection, which is a higher priority for an overhauled offense that wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders describes as "pass-happy."
"They're both very solid players, but both different," Joseph said. "Bolles is more of a leaner, more athletic tackle. Ramczyk is more of a powerful run blocker first and, in my opinion, a pass protector second."
The last time the Broncos selected an offensive tackle in the first round, they hit on Ryan Clady, who became an All-Pro before injuries caught up to him following eight mostly stellar seasons. They hope they found the same kind of quality tackle in Bolles.
"If Garett turns out to be what we think he is, he solves a big problem for us for a long time -- and that's that left tackle," Elway said. "We really feel like we were fortunate that he was there."
Bolles' addition also completes the massive offseason renovation of the Broncos' offensive line. If he starts at left tackle, the Broncos are expected to have three new starters up front. Watson and fellow free-agent pickup Ronald Leary are expected to work at right tackle and left guard.
"(Bolles) is a perfect fit for what we've done in free agency and what we've brought in," Elway said.