The Denver Broncos were active in free agency and aggressive during the 2023 NFL Draft. After a short rookie training camp, the franchise made various moves to trim down to the 90 allowed players for their roster.
Now that most all major roster-related moves have been made, it’s time to start analyzing the team heading into training camp. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be breaking down each position group and giving my analysis of each.
To kick things off we will start with the Broncos’ group of quarterbacks.
When the Broncos engaged in one of the league’s biggest blockbuster trades of all time, most fans across Broncos Country believed their beloved franchise had finally found a long-term solution at the game’s most prolific position. Who could blame them?
It’s not every day that a 9-time Pro-Bowler and Super Bowl Champion quarterback waltzes into your team’s headquarters and takes the offenses reins. Alas, Wilson and the Broncos struggled mightily last year, with Mr. Unlimited embarking on the worst season of his career. Precisely the exact opposite of what any fan could have envisioned.
And in many ways, it might have darn well been rock bottom for a franchise and it’s fans that have endured mediocrity at best since Peyton Manning retired.
But with Sean Payton in the fold as the team’s newly crowned head coach, I’m optimistic that he can help resurrect Wilson’s career and get him back on track. Payton’s has a great track record of getting competent production from his players, so I’d expect the same here at the start of his tenure with the Broncos.
In reality, there are really no more excuses for Russell Wilson. The Broncos built up the offensive line and added more offensive firepower in free agency in the draft. Maybe I’m wrong, but it’s arguably one of the better groups of players he has ever had around him during his NFL career.
However, if Wilson struggles for a good portion of the season, I think it would be safe to say that the experiment is over and Denver will be looking to move on from him after the 2023 campaign concludes.
Roll back the clocks half a decade ago and a lot of draft gurus believed Jarrett Stidham was on his way to becoming a sure-fire Top 50 selection in the NFL Draft. His 2017 campaign where he threw for 3,158 yards, 18 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions with nearly 67-percent of passes completed put him on every scout’s radar.
He made good decisions, was accurate in the short and intermediate facets of the game, and led Auburn to a victory against staunch rival Alabama. He looked poised, confident, and at times almost cocky maneuvering the pocket. The talent was evident and soon the hype train left the station with talks of him potentially being a first-round prospect.
But that never happened.
In an unfortunate turn of events, chaos hit the Tigers team in a myriad of fashions, and Stidham’s play declined significantly in 2018. He wasn’t a first, second, or third-round pick, but tumbled all the way to the end of the fourth-round where the New England Patriots took with the 133rd pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He spent this past season with the Las Vegas Raiders.
Stidham’s only appeared in 13 NFL games to date, but his two starts last year (especially against the San Francisco 49ers) show he still has developmental promise and upside. Even in the event that Wilson fails and Stidham gets a shot to run the offense, I don’t think a world exists where he secures a long-term starting position.
Vying for Third Spot
Jarrett Guarantano and Ben DiNucci
There isn’t much to write home about regarding either Guarantano or DiNucci, but if I had to place a bet on who I think will secure Denver’s third QB position it would be the latter.
DiNucci was selected in the seventh-round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys and spent time on their main roster and practice squad in his first two years. He was waived by the Cowboys in their final round of roster cuts in 2022, but ended up being drafted by the Seattle Sea Dragons of the XFL.
He was the league’s leading passer this past season and showcased his abilities as a runner as well, just like he did in college at James Madison. It’s highly unlikely to expect any of these guys to develop into quality NFL back-up quarterbacks, but having four arms for training camp to compete and learn the new offensive system is a sound philosophy to have.
Hart’s Position Group Grade: B
At the end of the day, the Broncos’ quarterback room overall has more talent than last season. For me, the biggest question is whether or not Payton’s offense and tutelage will help get Wilson back on track. I think it will work out just fine. I’m of the opinion that Denver’s 2023 playoff aspirations will live or die based on how well Wilson performs. As opposed to being overtly negative, I’ll choose to be positive and believe things are going to get better.