3 Denver Broncos who must step up in 2023 season

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Following a wild 2023 offseason that saw the Denver Broncos acquire Sean Payton via trade, spend $235 million in free agency and put together the most aggressive draft process since the George Paton regime began, the dust has begun to settle on the Broncos roster. While roster cuts loom over the horizon, some positions have their top guys all but set in stone, and with that comes expectations for certain players. 

As Denver prepares to rebound from a disappointing 5-12 season, here are three players that need to step up in 2023.

3 Denver Broncos players that need to step up in 2023

1. Nik Bonitto, EDGE

In what may have come as somewhat of a shock, the Broncos did not target the edge position throughout the free agency and draft processes. While Drew Sanders, who finished second in the SEC with 9.5 sacks, may provide some support on the outside, Sean Payton said he sees Sanders playing an inside linebacker role similar to Demario Davis with the Saints

With no help added along the edge, last year’s second-round pick Nik Bonitto out of Oklahoma will need to make a big jump from his rookie season, in which he tallied just 1.5 sacks in 15 games played. 

Upside is what the Broncos are banking on, as Bonitto was seen as a raw but talented player coming out of college. The Oklahoma product has a twitchy jump off of the edge that pairs well with the agility that lets him maneuver around the line and shoot through gaps like a bolt of lightning, however, his lack of size and strength can allow him to get bullied off the line if he can’t beat his man around the edge. 

It’s clear through the Broncos' offseason approach that the front office has confidence in Bonitto to grow as an edge rusher, and under new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, the second-year pass rusher will need to make a significant leap in terms of production to show that the organization’s confidence was warranted.