With the start of Denver Broncos training camp just a few weeks away, it is time for us to start looking at what players could stand out during these practices. Every year we see a few breakout stars on each side of the ball who stand out and some pleasant surprises among those standouts. So, I am giving you five candidates who could be breakout stars for the Broncos during training camp.
Tight end Greg Dulcich
The Broncos' 2022 third-round pick was a candidate for this last season, but a nagging hamstring injury cost him most of his summer and part of the regular season. Dulcich ended up starting the season on the PUP but when he returned to the field, he was a productive player for them. Now, Dulcich who is healthy and having his first full offseason in the NFL, could be on the verge of a breakout year for the Broncos, especially with Sean Payton running this offense.
Payton has already stated that they are going to use Dulcich in a “Joker” role in his offense. This means they will line him all over the offense to get him in the best possible matchup and is something Payton has done in the past.
The ‘Joker’ player for us is not a receiver. It’s either a running back or a tight end with exceptional ball skills and then you can work matchups. We’ve had that at the running back position. Reggie Bush was the ‘Joker,’ Darren Sproles and Alvin Kamara. Those were all unique players, not just in the running game, but they had passing game skill sets that allowed you to do multiple things, and I think Greg does to.”
So, if this is indeed the case, we could hear about Dulcich making plays early and often in camp. Especially when you think about his elite athleticism and size which already makes him a tough matchup for defenses.
Dulcich developing into one of the better and more productive tight ends in the league would be a huge boost for the Broncos' offense. I believe he has the skill set to do just that and I think Payton is the right coach to get the most out of him.
Wide receiver Marvin Mims Jr.
The Broncos traded up into the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft to select former Oklahoma receiver Marvin Mims Jr. The speedster and deep threat specialist has the potential to flourish with Payton and we could see that happen as soon as this upcoming training camp.
I do not think Payton and the Broncos would trade up for a receiver like Mims if they did not have plans for him. So, I expect him to get work early and often during camp and should dominate against the second and third defenses early in camp. I would not be surprised to see Mims get some first-team reps as we progress through camp.
A lot of love from Sean Payton for WR Marvin Mims— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) May 10, 2023
Called him a top-two punt returner in the class and how his speed at WR made it seem like he was "driving on Saturday and Sunday" instead of working in traffic
Even a "we got our guy" mention pic.twitter.com/G6IL7U6VUJ
I am hopeful that we hear about Mims catching deep bombs from the Broncos' quarterbacks throughout camp. He did appear to suffer a minor injury during OTA’s, so we may see him eased in early in camp, but I still have high hopes for the Broncos' rookie receiver.
Safety Caden Sterns
Last year, Caden Sterns appeared to be on the verge of a breakout season for the Broncos. He was building off an impressive rookie year and looked to push veteran Kareem Jackson for his starting job. However, an injury cost him his season just after four games and derailed any breakout season for the talented safety. Now, he enters his third year in the league healthy and ready to have that breakout year for the Broncos.
The Broncos did re-sign veteran safety Kareem Jackson, but they did not guarantee that he will be the starter for them. So, this leaves the door open for Sterns to earn that starting job opposite of Justin Simmons in the Broncos secondary.
#Broncos safety Caden Sterns was on the verge of a breakout season in 2022 before a hip injury ended his season. Now healthy, I think we will see that continue this upcoming season. https://t.co/SEpDAnLeyX— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) June 15, 2023
I think we will see Sterns start camp as the starter at safety and not look back. When healthy, he has proven he can be an above-average player who also has some ball-hawking skills as well. This will allow veteran Kareem Jackson to move into a more reserve role but still have a key role for the Broncos moving forward. I have high hopes for Sterns and I think he can be a very good player for the Broncos this upcoming season.
Linebacker Drew Sanders
In the third round of the 2023 draft, the Broncos got themselves an absolute steal when linebacker Drew Sanders fell into their laps. Now, the versatile and highly athletic linebacker has a chance to really break out for them during training camp.
While reporters were not allowed to say much about what they saw during OTA’s and minicamp, they hinted that Sanders looked impressive. This should not be a surprise considering his skill set and how many analysts had a first-round grade on Sanders heading into the draft. I think he will be someone we hear about a lot during camp, especially with him lining up against second and third-team offenses throughout the early portions of camp.
Sander’s athleticism will be on display throughout camp and he could make plays in run defense, in coverage, or as a pass rusher. He did it all at Arkansas and is still learning the position since he just played one season of off-the-ball linebacker. So, he will continue to grow and likely be a standout during training camp.
EDGE Nik Bonitto
I am being an optimist here, but I am hopeful that we see flashes from Bonitto during training camp this season. The Broncos spent a second round pick on him last season, but he is coming off a disappointing rookie season, but has an opportunity to impress this summer.
Baron Browning will miss all of camp due to injury and veterans Randy Gregory and Frank Clark likely will not get a ton of reps during camp. So, we could see Bonitto get plenty of snaps with the second and first-team defenses this summer.
Bonitto has an explosive first step and bend to get after the passer, we just did not see him do that very often last season. We need to see him do it more often this summer and continue it during the season. He did not offer much in the form of run defense, so it will be interesting to see if he improves there, or is simply a situational pass rusher for the Broncos.
Again, I am being hopeful here because Bonitto has the talent to be a productive pass rusher in the NFL. We just need to see his game improve and hopefully, we see signs of that during training camp. If so, that would be a huge boost to the Broncos' pass-rushing unit.