Denver Broncos: Overreacting to all the new jersey numbers

Apr 29, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Pat Sutrain Jr. (Alabama) with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by Denver Broncos as the number nine overall pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft at First Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 29, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Pat Sutrain Jr. (Alabama) with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by Denver Broncos as the number nine overall pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft at First Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos have their first rookie minicamp this week but before anyone can take the field, they’ve got to be assigned jersey numbers. That finally happened on Monday as the team announced official jersey number assignments for the rookie class, free agent acquisitions, as well as some big number changes for players who were already on the roster.

There’s nothing quite as fun in the offseason about (over) analyzing player jersey numbers because their number will be tied to their legacy as a member of the Denver Broncos.

For those who maybe do not know at this point, the Denver Broncos have three jersey numbers retired and one number that has been unofficially retired or at least considered untouchable. Those numbers are 7 (John Elway), 18 (Frank Tripucka, who allowed Peyton Manning to wear it), and 44 (Floyd Little). Champ Bailey’s number 24 has been worn once (Adam Jones) since Bailey left Denver, but that number is pretty much off-limits.

All other numbers 1-99 are eligible (college just started allowing players to wear 0 and the NFL should soon follow suit) and a new rule that was passed this year now allows players a lot more freedom with their jersey number choices.

Wide receivers can wear a number in the single digits, or they could decide to wear number 49. Linebackers could be out there wearing numbers in the teens. Tight ends can wear single digits. You get the idea. Other than linemen, players can basically wear any number they want.

With all of that in mind, let’s get to the number assignments and changes (in numerical order).

1 KJ Hamler, WR

Hamler wore number 13 in his rookie season with the Denver Broncos but he gets to change back to his college number 1 in his second NFL season. This is the perfect use of the new number rule and Hamler is going to look amazing in his new uniform. The Denver Broncos made sure we all got a sneak peek.

That is such a clean look and it’s about time the NFL adopted this rule. The jersey number one has typically been reserved for kickers or punters in Denver, which is extremely lame considering it’s a number that should be worn by receivers, running backs, or defensive backs as well.

2 Patrick Surtain II, CB

Like Hamler, Surtain will be staying with his college number. This makes a ton of sense from Surtain’s perspective as he has built somewhat of a “brand” as “PS2”.

The Broncos also posted a picture of what Surtain could look like in his new threads…

Both of these players — Hamler and Surtain — are making good use of the new jersey number rules and will look fantastic on gamedays.

5 Teddy Bridgewater, QB

Bridgewater has always worn number 5, so this comes as no surprise. The Broncos had it available, so this one was a no-brainer from the very start.

9 Kendall Hinton, WR

Hinton used to wear number 2, and his gameday jersey worn last year in his emergency start against the New Orleans Saints is a historic piece of NFL history at this point. Out with the old, in with the new. Hinton will fight for a roster spot at the deepest position group on the team wearing the number most recently worn by backup quarterback Jeff Driskel.

13 Michael Ojemudia, CB

Ojemudia returns to his high school number (he wore 23 last year and 11 in college) and will be one of two players in the defensive backfield (rookie Pat Surtain II) to be taking advantage of the new jersey number rule.

19 Seth Williams, WR

The Denver Broncos picked Williams in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. After wearing number 18 in college, Williams will jump up one number to 19 in the pros. It’s likely we’ll see him stick with this number but he could swap if a single-digit or another number in the teens opens up.

21 Ronald Darby, CB

The number 21 in the Denver Broncos’ font scheme is one of the most pleasing to look at. Aqib Talib is one of the best players in team history to wear it, and now the new highest-paid corner on the team (Ron Darby) will get the chance to create his own legacy in it.

23 Kyle Fuller, CB

Kyle Fuller must have done something nice for Michael Ojemudia to get this number from him, the number he’s worn ever since he’s been in the pros. With the additions of Fuller and Darby, the Denver Broncos will have one of the cleanest-looking starting secondary units in terms of jersey numbers.

26 Mike Boone, RB

Boone is effectively the guy replacing Phillip Lindsay on the roster and he’ll take number 26. This jersey number has not had a great history since Clinton Portis was traded for Champ Bailey. Darian Stewart is the exception to that.

27 Nate Hairston, CB

Hairston signed with the Denver Broncos last year for depth and the team decided to bring him back for another shot at a roster spot in 2021. He gets the number once worn by the late Darrent Williams.

30 Caden Sterns, S

The number 30 obviously has significant meaning in Denver Broncos history as it was worn by Hall of Fame running back Terrell Davis. Most recently, it was worn by Phillip Lindsay who left this offseason as a free agent.

Sterns will get a chance to etch his own legacy in a historic Denver Broncos jersey number.

33 Javonte Williams, RB

The Denver Broncos’ second-round pick gets a number that has not been worn for more than two consecutive years by a player since Jimmy Spencer in the early 2000s.

In that way, this has a chance to really work out great for Williams, who has a chance to really make 33 his own with the Denver Broncos.

35 Kary Vincent Jr., CB

The number 35 is a big, wide number which is not really befitting of the smaller Kary Vincent Jr. Hopefully Vincent will make the final roster and be able to change this number down the line to something in the single digits, teens, or 20s.

41 Jamar Johnson, S

The number 41 does not have a rich history in Denver but it is a phenomenal safety number and is going to be great for Jamar Johnson. The overall aesthetic of the Broncos’ secondary is going to be really awesome with players in the 20s, one in the single digits, one in the teens, some in the 30s, and some in the 40s.

51 Marquiss Spencer, DL

The number 51 is rarely if ever, worn by interior defensive linemen. That’s not just a Denver Broncos thing but an NFL thing. Marquiss Spencer will certainly have a unique look on the interior line with this jersey number.

53 Jonathon Cooper, EDGE

For linebackers and edge players, the jersey number 53 in the Denver Broncos’ font scheme is one of the best-looking jerseys. Unfortunately, no one has really been able to keep this number for a significant amount of time in recent years.

56 Baron Browning, LB

The number 56 is famous in Denver Broncos history for being worn by former first-round pick Al Wilson, one of the best linebackers in team history. It was most recently worn by Corey Nelson on his second stint with the team and Shane Ray before him.

If not for Teddy Bridgewater’s presence on the roster, it would have been awesome to see Browning go with his college number 5 here. The number 15 was (is) also available and that would have been better than 56 in my opinion, but there’s no doubt that 56 is a classic linebacker number and an important one in Broncos history.

57 Natrez Patrick, LB

A former Georgia product, Natrez Patrick will have a chance to crack the Broncos’ roster on special teams and he’ll get a pretty good-looking jersey to do it with.

77 Quinn Meinerz, OL

Of all offensive line number possibilities, few will look better in the Denver Broncos’ font and number scheme than 77. This was Meinerz’s college number and is also a historic number in Broncos history, worn by the likes of Karl Mecklenberg and Lyle Alzado. Nobody has worn this number for more than a year besides Billy Turner in the last two decades.

82 Eric Saubert, TE

Eric Saubert joined the Denver Broncos after the NFL Draft and has a classic tight end number and one that has only been worn twice (Jeff Heuerman, Dan Gronkowski) since 2008.

97 Isaiah Mack, DL

There are few better numbers for defensive linemen than 97 with the Denver Broncos’ jersey and number scheme. The number 97 is also a fun representation of the year the team switched to these particular jerseys.

99 Shamar Stephen, DL

Jurrell Casey wore this number a year ago and many hoped he would still be wearing it. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out, and former Viking defensive lineman Shamar Stephen will look good rocking 99 as a nose tackle next to all of the other 90s on that defensive line.

Every one of the Broncos’ top six defensive linemen (Shelby Harris, Mike Purcell, Dre’Mont Jones, Stephen, McTelvin Agim, DeShawn Williams) has a number in the 90s which just looks good out there.