We are almost there Broncos Country! On Friday, the Broncos will take the field for their first training camp practice of the year and officially kick off the 2023 season. During these practices and their three preseason games, the Broncos coaches will evaluate their roster and decide who and who does not make their 53-man roster. They will trim their roster from 90 players to 53 players all in a few days and we usually see a few surprises amongst those moves.
So, here is what I think the Broncos’ 53-man roster will look like as they head into week one of the 2023 NFL season.
Starter: Russell Wilson
Backup: Jarrett Stidham
This position group should lack some drama on who is making the team. Veteran Russell Wilson is your expected starter while Jarrett Stidham, who signed here during free agency will be his backup.
Wilson is looking to have a big bounce-back year this season with Sean Payton now running the offense. Behind him is former Patriots and Raiders quarterback, Jarrett Stidham. Sean Payton has praised Stidham this offseason and Stidham chose the Broncos because of Payton. So, hopefully, Stidham can prove to be a reliable backup for the team if needed and potentially step in to start if it comes to that.
Starters: Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine
Backups: Tony Jones Jr. and Jaleel McLaughlin
Javonte Williams has avoided the PUP and appears to be on track for week one of the regular season. Veteran Samaje Perine will be the 1B running back on this team and have a critical role in Sean Payton’s offense. Those two will be the Broncos' main contributors in the backfield, but everything behind these two is up in the air.
Right now, I have the Broncos keeping Tony Jones Jr. on the roster. He is a big powerful back who can give you some carries in a game in a pinch. He is nothing spectacular, but he has a history with Sean Payton that may help him make the team as the Broncos' third or fourth back. After that, I have impressive UDFA rookie Jaleel McLaughlin making the team. I think he will have a strong preseason and play his way on the team.
I believe we will see an addition replace one or both of these players at some point, but barring that, these are my four.
Starter: Michael Burton
The Broncos signed the Super Bowl-winning fullback this offseason and I expect him to make the team. Sean Payton is going to run the ball a lot this season it seems and he will be their lead blocker for them while also contributing on special teams.
Starters: Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, and Tim Patrick
Backups: Marvin Mims Jr. and Marquez Callaway
I have the Broncos keeping five receivers on the roster. They have some stuff decisions to make and I have two former draft picks not making the team. Jeudy, Sutton, and Patrick are your starters with the rookie Mims Jr being the fourth or fifth receiver.
The final spot or two will be the tough one, but I have the former Saints receiver Marquez Callaway making the team. The last time he played for Sean Payton, he caught six touchdowns for the Saints, so I think Payton will lean toward one of his guys.
It certainly will be interesting to see how this group shakes out. It is one of the tougher positional groups on this roster to predict.
Starters: Adam Trautman and Greg Dulcich
Backups: Chris Manhertz and Albert Okwuegbunam
The two Broncos starters at tight end will be Adam Trautman and Greg Dulcich. Trautman is the better blocker of the two and will likely be the starter because of his in-line skills. However, Dulcich will play a ton in the joker role in Payton’s offense and hopefully, be an effective pass-catching tight end for the team.
Behind these two, I have the Broncos keeping Chris Manhertz and Albert Okwuegbunam. Manhertz is an elite run-blocking specialist who will fill a role on this team. I have them keeping Albert O. sticking on the roster because I cannot see Payton letting a player with that blend of size and speed go. He is a mismatch weapon on offense and Payton is an offensive genius, so I think he will find a role for him.
Starters: Garett Bolles and Mike McGlinchey
Backups: Cam Fleming and Isaiah Prince
Bolles is returning as the Broncos left tackle and Mike McGlinchey is the starting right tackle. We need these two to stay healthy and play at a high-level this upcoming season.
Behind them, I have them keeping Cam Fleming to be their effective swing tackle and Isaiah Prince sticking as the fourth tackle on the roster. Prince was the Bengals starting right tackle during their postseason run and has some experience under his belt. So, I have him sticking over the UDFA’s, but that could certainly change.
Starters: Ben Powers and Quinn Meinerz
Backups: Kyle Fuller
Powers and Meinerz give the Broncos two high-end guards to run the interior of their offensive line. Powers was one of the best guards in the league last season and Meinerz looks like a star in the making.
Behind these two is where things get tricky. It could be a number of players who make the team, but right now, I have the veteran Kyle Fuller. He is not great, but he is an experienced player who offers versatility. I would not be shocked if they added a player here or one of the younger players outplays him, but for now, I have Fuller cracking the 53-man roster.
Starters: Lloyd Cushenberry
Backups: Alex Forsyth
Lloyd Cushenberry will be the Broncos starting center for a fourth consecutive year. He has not played well and missed most of the season last year due to injury, but the team did little to add competition for him this offseason. So, for now, he is the unquestioned starter at center for the Broncos.
The rookie interior offensive lineman Alex Forsyth will make the team and be the Broncos backup center who can also play guard if needed. He was highly regarded by some draft analysts and has a chance to carve out a real role on this team this upcoming season. Like at guard, this spot could go to a number of players, but for now, I have the rookie making the team.
Starters: Zach Allen and Matt Henningsen
Backups: P.J. Mustipher and Jonathan Harris
The defensive end position might be the toughest positional group to predict because a few of the players who may make the roster are not with the team currently. Zach Allen is the Broncos only locked-in starter right now, and everything behind him is up in the air.
Second-year lineman Matt Henningsen seems like the best candidate of this group to be the other starter, but that could change within the next few weeks. Behind them, I have the undrafted rookie P.J. Mustipher and veteran Jonathan Harris making the team. Mustipher has had a good offseason per reports and could be a beneficiary of Eyioma Uwazurike’s suspension. Harris has some starts under his belt and has been a solid depth player for the team in the past and that could continue this season.
The Broncos will most likely add at least one player to their defensive line, but for now, I have these four making the team.
Starter: D.J. Jones
Backup: Mike Purcell
D.J. Jones is entering his second year with the team and is your starting nose tackle. Behind him, I have veteran Mike Purcell. He is currently on the NFI list and has missed the entire offseason, so that could change things, but with the lack of depth on the roster, he likely makes the team.
Purcell’s status will be something to watch and if he is sidelined for long, it could put his roster spot in danger and/or force to team to sign someone else to fill his role. I originally had rookie P.J. Mustipher making the team over him, but the recent suspension of Eyioma Uwazrurike altered my thinking a little bit.
Starters: Randy Gregory and Frank Clark
Backups: Nik Bonitto, Jonathon Cooper, and Thomas Incoom
Veteran edge rushers Randy Gregory and Frank Clark will be your likely week-one starters. Both are above 30 years old and Gregory has a lengthy injury history, so they could be on a bit of a pitch count this season.
Behind them, I have Jonathon Cooper who figures to play a lot this season and second-year pass rusher Nik Bonitto. Both of these players could see significant snaps this season and be key factors in the success on defense. Rounding out the group, I have undrafted rookie Thomas Incoom. The Senior Bowl standout has a non-stop motor and likely will have a strong showing during the preseason. I believe he will play too well to not make the team and show potential on special teams as well.
Starters: Josey Jewell and Alex Singleton
Backups: Drew Sanders and Jonas Griffith
I looked back at Vance Joseph’s time in Arizona, and with them, he routinely keep at least four inside linebackers on the roster. I originally was going to go with just three players, but that changed my mind.
Your starters will be the instinctual Josey Jewell and the tackling machine, Alex Singleton. The pair gives the Broncos two solid starters, but behind them, they have the impressive-looking rookie Drew Sanders. He is big, talented, and athletic and could push for playing time in his rookie season.
Jonas Griffith was viewed as an up-and-coming starter last season, but now, he is on the roster bubble. He is a talented player with good athleticism who could thrive on special teams while also giving the team an experienced backup
Starters: Patrick Surtain II, Damarri Mathis, and K’Waun Williams
Backups: Tremon Smith and Riley Moss
All-Pro corner Patrick Surtain II is the top corner in the league and the star of the Broncos' defense. Opposite of him, I have a second-year cornerback Damarri Mathis being the other starting corner for the defense. After that, I have veteran slot corner K’Waun Williams returning for a second straight year, but he could be a sneaky-cut candidate.
As for the backups, I have rookie Riley Moss and free agent signee Tremon Smith making the team. Moss and Smith will contribute on special teams while also adding depth to their cornerback unit.
I really wanted to make room for Ja’Quan McMillian, but I did not want to cut K’Waun Williams for him, yet at least.
Starters: Justin Simmons and Caden Sterns
Backups: Kareem Jackson, P.J. Locke, and JL Skinner
The Broncos' safety unit might be the deepest and most talented unit on the roster. They have All-Pro safety and likely breakout star Caden Sterns as your starters. Kareem Jackson could start but I think it is time that Sterns takes over that role full-time,
Kareem Jackson will assume a reserve role with the team. There could be a chance he doesn’t make the team, but I doubt it. He gives them a veteran presence and someone who can start in a pinch while also thriving in a reserve role. P.J. Locke returns as the Broncos special teams ace while rookie JL Skinner gives them an intriguing player to develop.
Kicker: Brett Maher
Punter: Riley Dixon
Long Snapper: Mitchell Fraboni
If Brett Maher can avoid having a repeat performance of what he did in the playoffs, he should make the team. He is a more accomplished kicker than Elliott Fry but we shall see. There is no guarantee that either of these kickers make the final roster.
Punter Riley Dixon was signed this past offseason and looks to be the starting punter for this upcoming season. This will be his second stint with the team after they drafted him
As for the long snapper Mitchell Fraboni, he is the only long snapper on the roster so I think that bodes well for him moving forward.