The Denver Broncos selected linebacker Baron Browning in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. At the time, they viewed him as a highly athletic off-the-ball linebacker and he ended up showing some promise at that position during his rookie year. He totaled 58 tackles and looked destined to be the Broncos' long-term answer at inside linebacker. However, Broncos general manager George Paton and former head coach Nathaniel Hackett decided to move Browning to edge rusher in 2022. He had some pass-rushing background during his time at Ohio State and is a highly athletic player with the explosion and natural bend to excel on the edge full-time.
Now, fast forward to last summer and we have Browning looking excellent during training camp and showing out in the preseason. His play elevated him up the depth chart where he was the Broncos' third edge rusher behind Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory. Well, after injuries to Gregory and Chubb being traded, Browning took over the starting job and put together a very good and encouraging first year as an edge rusher.
The expectations for Browning were high heading into this season, but unfortunately, they were derailed before we even hit the summer months. We learned that Baron Browning has undergone arthroscopic knee surgery and will start the season on the PUP list.
Baron Browning | Edge Rusher | Denver Broncos
Height: 6’3” | Weight: 240 pounds
Experience: Third season | Age: 24 years old
Baron Browning’s 2022 regular season stats
Baron Browning appeared in 14 games for the Broncos in 2022 which included 8 starts where he totaled 24 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 interception, and 2 pass deflections.
Baron Browning’s 2023 season outlook
Prior to the announcement of his injury of a partially torn meniscus, I had viewed Browning as a potential breakout candidate for the Broncos this upcoming season. He would be coming off a promising first year at edge rusher and would likely be the starting edge rusher opposite of Randy Gregory. Unfortunately, Browning is looking at a stint on the PUP and will be facing competition for snaps against recently signed veteran Frank Clark.
So, Browning will miss the first four weeks of the regular season if he does indeed start the season on the PUP and will be eligible to return in week five as the Broncos prepare to take on Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets.
With all that said, Browning likely will still be a key member of this Broncos defense when he returns. He is an explosive athlete off the edge who flashed big-time potential last season when given the opportunity. So, he will be featured once again when he is healthy and returns to the field. You also have to look at the injury history of Randy Gregory. He has never played a full season and has only played in more than 12 games once in his career (14 games in 2018). So, he will likely miss a number of games this upcoming season, so you will need your depth which now included Browning to step up when he is sidelined.
The injury to Browning is disappointing because he is a young up-and-coming star for the Broncos who appeared to be on the verge of a breakout season. Depending on the length of his absence, he can still be that breakout player but you never know how a player will return after injuries like this.
As I stated above, the injury history of Randy Gregory all but guarantees that Browning will get some starts this season. How well Frank Clark plays will also factor into this, but hopefully, the veteran pass rusher has a productive season with the Broncos.
At the end of the day, it sucks that Browning will miss the rest of the offseason and potentially the start of the regular season, but he will still have an impact on the defense this year. He is way too talented not to and this will hopefully just be a minor roadblock in what will be a successful season for Browning and the Broncos.