After the Denver Broncos snagged Iowa tight end Noah Fant in the first-round, Missouri quarterback Drew Lock in the second round and some much-needed depth at other positions, most pundits agreed that they had themselves a fantastic draft that could pay dividends in both the present and the future.
But another Broncos second-round pick in the 2019 NFL draft could have the biggest impact both on and off the field.
While he’s probably the least touted prospect of Denver’s first three selections, Kansas State offensive lineman Dalton Risner is a name worth remembering for a litany of reasons.
From a purely football-based angle, Risner should be a Day 1 starter for a Broncos offensive line that needs help. Not only did Denver lose standout center Matt Paradis, but the shuffling of offensive linemen to fill his place leaves holes elsewhere on the line.
Enter Risner, who has the rare versatility to play all five positions on the offensive line.
Just as important, the Broncos play in a division that features defensive line players like Kansas City’s Chris Jones, Los Angeles’ Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, and Oakland’s Clelin Ferrell, who was the fourth overall pick of the draft.
But a football career only lasts so long. It’s Risner’s faith and charity that will resonate far more than the number of defenders he pancakes.
Yes, much like former Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, Risner has made it no secret that his life’s purpose is not about sports.
Before even receiving his first NFL paycheck, the 6-foot-5, 312-pounder set up an incredible foundation called RisnerUp, whose purpose is “spreading God’s word through love and kindness.” The foundation’s website prominently features Peter 4:10 on the front page.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in various forms,” the verse reads.
Risner also has a slew of faith-based tattoos, and his explanation of them to NJ.com in April was brilliant.
“I’m not just going to put a skull on my body or something that doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “I try to get stuff that I want to carry with me throughout my whole life. A lot of it are my favorite scriptures that I carry on my arm. I love that because do you know how many questions I get? Like you just asked and that gives me the chance to share the word of God with somebody out there. Whether it’s someone who comes up to me at a grocery store or a little kid and they want to know who Jesus is or what Psalm 37 means.
“That’s an awesome opportunity to spread the word of God.”
But Risner’s most poignant statements were to 247 Sports.
“What do I plan to be now that I’m all grown up?” he said in an April 2018 interview. “I plan to pursue my football career as far as I can. But what do I plan to be? I’d love to be a football coach someday or a sports broadcaster, but above all, I want to be an inspirational and motivational speaker. We’ll see how far football goes, but my biggest goal in life is that I want to use my faith to impact as many people as I can with the platform that football has given me.”
That’s an awesome sentiment, as is what followed.
“I believe God gave me the platform of football so I can impact people and be a missionary for Him, and impact people not just with faith but with a smile and positivity and encouragement,” Risner said.
This is wisdom and maturity that belie a 23-year-old.
ESPN described Risner as a key offensive line cog who “is simply a no-worry player as a locker-room leader.”
On or off the field, second-round picks don’t get much better than Dalton Risner.
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