4. Damarri Mathis, cornerback
When the Denver Broncos drafted Damarri Mathis in the fourth round out of Pittsburgh last year, it felt like they had gotten a steal. As we saw him get opportunities on the field, it became apparent those sentiments were anything but misplaced.
Mathis showed out during the pre-draft process as a workout warrior, but he really emerged in the last couple of seasons at Pitt in his coverage abilities. When he got to the Denver Broncos, it was expected that he might get the chance to play if injuries occurred, and that certainly proved to be the case.
Ronald Darby went down with a torn ACL, and Mathis became the full-time starter opposite Pat Surtain II. Now, it appears as though he will be in that role going forward.
Mathis was outstanding as a rookie despite getting called for a whopping four pass interference penalties in the game early on in the year against the Chargers. He rebounded nicely, and finished the year with 65 total tackles and seven passes broken up.
5. Courtland Sutton, wide receiver
Just like Russell Wilson, Courtland Sutton finished better than he started. We didn’t see any dominant performances from Sutton pretty much all year, but he almost took over the most recent game against the Kansas City Chiefs. You know, if it weren’t for the officiating…
Although Sutton was wrongfully called for offensive pass interference on this play, he finished the year with a surprising and disappointing 64 receptions for 829 yards and two touchdowns. Sutton will be entering his age 28 season in 2023 and the Broncos have expected him to be a true alpha at the position, a WR1 who can take over games.
Seeing him stay healthy the last two seasons has been very nice, but we haven’t seen progression from the guy we all saw in 2019 who made the Pro Bowl and was dominating at the catch point. That clip against Kansas City is something we want to see more of from Sutton, obviosuly without the laundry from the officials.
The Denver Broncos are reportedly interviewing a surprise candidate for their head coaching vacancy on Wednesday with Jim Caldwell getting a look.
Sutton has the ability to be a go-to guy in the passing game but our expectations for him in 2022 versus the reality of what we saw were surprising for the wrong reasons.