3) Jonathon Cooper, edge rusher
Cooper, in his third year with the Broncos, is emerging as a strong secondary pass rusher for Vance Joseph on the opposite side of the line from Baron Browning. Cooper has been a rotational piece the last few years after being a seventh-round draft pick in 2021 out of, you guessed it, Ohio State. Cooper and Browning were teammates for their entire collegiate careers at Ohio State, and are now one of the better pass-rushing duos in the NFL.
Cooper entered the year with 4.5 sacks through two years and has already doubled that output in eight games so far this year. Cooper had started opposite Nik Bonitto so far this year, and then Baron Browning after the Broncos had returned Browning from the PUP list.
Cooper has made his presence known in timely moments. The third-year edge rusher sacked Patrick Mahomes on the Chiefs final drive of the game last week, helping seal the Broncos' first win over the Chiefs in eight years. Overall, Cooper has amassed an incredibly strong year so far this year: three tackles for a loss, eight quarterback hits, two fumble recoveries, both in timely moments, 4.5 sacks, and 39 combined tackles.
Cooper's career high in tackles is 48, but with 38 under his belt in just eight games, he is on pace to set career highs in almost every column. Cooper is under contract through 2024 and should be a part of the Broncos' long-term plans on the outside, opposite of Browning, rotating in and out with Bonitto.