Despite the fact that the 2023 Broncos have been an underwhelming embarrassment, there have been a few bright spots this season. While most of the roster has underperformed expectations, a few players have emerged as bright spots, and possible building blocks for the future of the Broncos. Here are three Broncos who are outperforming 2023 expectations.
1) Nik Bonitto
To this point, and likely for the rest of the season, Nik Bonitto is the number one pass rush option on the Broncos' defense. Bonitto has taken on this role, however, due mostly to his strong play and and finally starting to show why he was the Broncos' first selection in the 2022 draft. Through six games, the former Sooner has 5.5 sacks, nine quarterback hits, nine tackles for a loss, and one forced fumble that resulted in the Broncos' lone defensive touchdown of the year. Pro-rating Bonitto's stats to a full season, the second-year man is on pace for just under 16 sacks. A 16-sack season would tie Bonitto with former Bronco Simon Fletcher for the 3rd most sacks in a single season in Broncos history.
Bonitto's season stands out for a number of reasons, but a large reason is going from a rotational, non-impact player in 2022 to a potential all-time franchise season in 2023 is a stark turnaround that not many saw coming. Bonitto, who is still under contract for two more years, is emerging as a star for the Broncos. On the flip side, he entered 2023 as arguably the Broncos' fifth pass rusher, behind Randy Gregory, Frank Clark, Jonathan Cooper, and Baron Browning. Bonitto, all of that considered, is now on pace for a top-five sack season in franchise history. No other Bronco is outperforming expectations like Nik Bonitto has.