The Denver Broncos kicked off the season with high hopes and aspirations, but it's no secret that it hasn't exactly gone as planned. However, amidst the initial struggles and setbacks, there are always glimmers of hope and reasons to stay optimistic.
Young Defensive Talent
Considering the Broncos gave up 181 points in the first five games, it wasn’t crazy to lose all hope on that side of the ball. The defense looked completely lost, uninterested, and uninspired. The next two games were a completely different story, and they held both the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers to under 20 points.
After trading away Randy Gregory, it was clear the focus was being shifted to prioritizing the younger players. So far, it has been a nice aspect of Broncos football. The current sack leader on the team is second-year outside linebacker Nik Bonitto, with 5.5 sacks, who has also added a team-leading nine tackles for losses. Following Bonitto is third-year outside linebacker Jonathon Cooper, who has four sacks.
After week one against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Broncos recorded a total of zero sacks. The lack of pressure being put on Jimmy Garoppolo was concerning, to say the least. Things have now seemingly started to turn around for the entire defense, and it starts with the young players.
Baron Browning also made his return last week against the Packers, giving the Broncos a trio of promising young pass rushers to look out for. Watching these three continue to develop and possibly be long-term pass rushers for the team is a source of great anticipation.
It is widely known around the league that the Broncos are looking to sell some pieces at the deadline. Two of the most sought-after players other teams will be targeting are wide receivers Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. With that aforementioned trade deadline right around the corner, it seems more and more likely that at least one of those players will be moved, and this will open up more opportunities for Marvin Mims.
With limited play time this season, Mims has been electric and a bright spot when given the opportunity. Seemingly every time he touches the ball, something exciting happens, and it should make the front office more inclined to move a receiver who is blocking Mims from getting more playing time.
The Broncos haven’t exactly been known for big time plays in recent years. In 2020, Sutton was a great big playmaker, as he averaged 22 yards per reception. Of course, Mims only has 7 games under his belt this season compared to Sutton's 14 in 2020. Regardless, Mims is averaging 24.6 yards per reception, so why not give him more chances? He could easily become the player that many hoped former Bronco K.J. Hamler was going to be before unfortunate health concerns and injuries derailed his time in Denver.
The NFL Draft
Last year, the NFL draft just didn’t feel the same with the Broncos not having a selection in the first round. This year, the organization will make it’s return to the first round with plenty of options.
While Russell Wilson has looked much better under Sean Payton than he did last season with Nathaniel Hackett, this draft class is loaded with quarterback talent. As it stands, Caleb Williams doesn’t seem to be an option, but the Broncos could have a chance at a player like Drake Maye early on in the draft. Since Wilson will be nearly impossible to trade and difficult to cut due to his contract, why not let a rookie quarterback learn behind him? Wilson has loads of valuable experience that any rookie should love to learn from.
The front office could also pass on an early quarterback and go for offensive line help or take the best available defensive player. If they do that, there is still a chance they could land a talented quarterback, whether it be in the second round or trading back up into the first.
Personally, the idea of selecting the best available offensive lineman or defender and then trading up to select a player like Michael Penix Jr. is a dream scenario. This would give the Broncos immediate help while also allowing the quarterback of the future to learn behind Wilson.
The possibilities in the draft are endless and changing every single week, which is one of the most exciting parts of being a struggling NFL team.