View Full Version : Beadles Prides Himself on Football IQ

07-07-2010, 01:34 PM
By Gabe Hiatt

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Life as a NFL offensive lineman can be an identity crisis.

One play your approach is unfiltered aggression clearing a running lane, while the next snap you're calmly finessing your feet backwards looking to punch a pass rusher out of the pocket. As soon as you get comfortable crouching in a left-handed stance at guard, the team might need your services at right tackle.

It's best to convey confidence in your general skill set and get used to the constant changes. That attitude helped Zane Beadles earn the respect of the Broncos front office enough for them to select him as the 45th overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft.

"He's got a great attitude and we spent a lot of time with him before the draft," Head Coach Josh McDaniels said. "He didn't disappoint us (at rookie minicamp) with what he was able to do."

Beadles started double-digit games at both left guard (12) and left tackle (38) at Utah, earning All-America honors as a senior and All-Mountain-West distinction in his last three seasons. His versatility enhances his football I.Q. and appreciates his value as a lineman in the league.

"I take pride in that," Beadles said. "I try to learn the offense as a whole and I think it makes me a better player when I know what the guy next to me is doing... I try to be able to go back and forth between inside and outside techniques."

Ben Hamilton's departure and an offseason injury to Russ Hochstein opened up a starting spot Beadles could compete for. After dominating the left tackle position in the last three years for the Utes, Beadles stepped back inside to left guard.

Trying to shake off the "tackle mind-set" and study his first NFL playbook from a guard's point of view can sometimes present a challenge for Beadles. He has to drop his personal connotation with the bookend position and think of the tackle as his neighbor.

"Especially in the passing game it's much different between the two," Beadles said. "Being able to switch my mind from one to the other -- going from one position to the other -- is something that I need to get better at and I'll keep working on."

While he's not as likely to change positions, rookie J.D. Walton is a valuable sounding board for Beadles. Casey Wiegmann's defection to the Chiefs opened up the opportunity for Walton to compete for the starting center job.

"Right before a play one of us may screw something up and the other one is on the other guy and let's him know, 'No, no here is what we're doing. 'So it's good to have someone like that," Beadles said. "We can bounce things off each other, help each other out, really grow and learn this offense together."

Like Beadles, Walton earned All-America honors as a senior in college. Walton's learning to play guard, but The Big XII competition at Baylor prepared him to play center in the NFL. Over the course of the college football season the eventual No. 2 and No. 3 overall picks in the draft, Ndamukong Suh from Nebraska and Gerald McCoy from Oklahoma, both clashed with Walton.

McDaniels said he liked the way Walton stood up to both big men and especially enjoys how Walton handles himself around his own teammates.

"He's not afraid to take charge at all," McDaniels said. "We like his confidence. He'll stand up and he'll make sure that we're all set before the ball is snapped and that's a good thing. That has a calming influence on the rest of the guys."

Both Walton and Beadles understand the nature of the NFL. They realize what their starting opportunity means for rookies and how quickly it can go away if they don't perform.

Walton could be the first Broncos center to open his career as a starter, or he could be a back-up at guard. Beadles could earn starting duties on the inside, or he could be a valuable swing tackle should Ryan Clady or Ryan Harris need an emergency replacement.

Starting or not, both linemen approach each practice as a chance to hone their skills, wherever they're needed.

"The chips will fall where they may at the end of the day, and that's not for me to decide," Beadles said. "All I can do is go out there and control the way I work and the way that I play. That's all I can really worry about."