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Denver Broncos 53-man roster prediction at halfway point

We are in the final practices of training camp and have a preseason game in the books, so let us take a shot at predicting the Broncos 53-man roster.

Denver Broncos v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Before the start of training camp, I took a shot at predicting the Denver Broncos 53-man roster. That prediction did not age well because of multiple factors, but now, we are at it again. We are at the halfway point of training camp/preseason, so it is a good time to take a shot at predicting the 53 players who will be on the Broncos roster come week one.

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

Nothing changed here. Russ is obviously the starter, and despite a poor showing in the preseason opener, Jarrett Stidham is still the backup. The Broncos signed him to a two-year, $10 million dollar deal in the offseason and he was a priority for head coach Sean Payton, so he is not going anywhere.

Ben DiNucci played well and is getting your yearly third-string quarterback hype, but I believe he still is a practice squad candidate lock for them.

Running Back(4)

Starters: Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine

Backup: Tyler Badie and Jaleel McLaughlin

Javonte Williams has continued to beat the odds and is way ahead of schedule when it comes to his knee injury. He is expected to play in week two of the preseason, so we shall see how that goes. However, he appears locked in to go for week one and will be your starter. Veteran Samaje Perine will be their 1B in the backfield and gives the Broncos two powerful runners to lean on throughout the year.

After those two, I have Tyler Badie and undrafted rookie Jaleel McLaughlin making the team. Both are undersized backs but look to be the best candidates to make the team from this position right now. Badie has been your third back all of camp and was the second back off the bench in the preseason opener, so he seems to have a good shot at making the team. Speedster Jaleel McLaughlin has been a star of camp and looked impressive in the preseason opener and seems to be trending towards making the roster. He would give the Broncos a speed element off their bench to go with their powerful one-two punch in Javonte and Perine.


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.

Wide Receiver(5)

Starters: Jerry Jeudy, Cortland Sutton, and Brandon Johnson

Backups: Marvin Mims Jr. and Marquez Callaway

The one major change here is Tim Patrick is no longer an option and is out for the year because of an achilles injury. In his place, I have second-year wide receiver Brandon Johnson serving as the starter. Before suffering a minor ankle injury, he was running with the first-team offense in place of Tim Patrick. For now, I am penciling him in as the Broncos third starting wide receiver, but we shall see if things change.

As for the backups, I have rookie Marvin Mims Jr. who could push Johnson for that starting job, especially if he continues to be sidelined. After that, veteran Marquez Callaway who started alongside Jeudy and Sutton in the preseason opener seems to have a good shot at making the team.

Tight Ends(4)

Starters: Adam Trautman and Greg Dulcich

Backups: Chris Manhertz and Nate Adkins

Adam Trautman is listed as your starter in the initial depth chart and I believe that will be the case come week one. He is a more well-rounded tight end who can block well while also contributing as a receiver. I have Dulcich listed as a starter as well because he will see plenty of playing time as the main receiving threat at the position.

Veteran tight end Chris Manhertz sticks as your blocking specialist at the position but joining him is undrafted rookie Nate Adkins. He is listed fourth on the current depth chart and gives them a player who can also play fullback while also contributing on special teams.


Starters: Garett Bolles and Mike McGlinchey

Backups: Cam Fleming and Isaiah Prince

I still have the same four tackles making the roster this time around. Garett Bolles will be your left tackle while Mike McGlinchey will start at right tackle. These are your two starters heading into week one.

Behind them, we have veteran swing tackle Cam Fleming and reserve tackle Isaiah Prince making the team. Fleming was one of the Broncos better linemen last year and Isaiah Prince has had a strong camp so far. So, at least on paper, the team has solid tackle depth currently.


Starters: Ben Powers and Quinn Meinerz

Backup: Quinn Bailey

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.

The backup position is up for grabs. In the first version, I had Kyle Fuller making the team, but in this version, I have Quinn Bailey. The interior offensive line depth is inexperienced and young, so it could go a number of ways.


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.

Defensive End(5)

Starters: Zach Allen and Jonathan Harris

Backups: Matt Henningsen, Elijah Garcia, and Jordan Jackson

This position has become more clear since the start of camp. Zach Allen is your starter but opposite of him, Jonathan Harris has elevated himself into that other starting role and looks like the favorite for the job come week one.

Behind him, I have second-year players Matt Henningsen, Elijah Garcia, and Jordan Jackson making the team. Henningsen is likely the main backup here and has proven to be a solid depth piece for this defense. After him, I have Elijah Garcia and Jordan Jackson. Both players impressed me during the preseason opener and add some pass-rushing ability to this unit.

Nose Tackle(2)

Starter: D.J. Jones

Backup: Tyler Lancaster

D.J. Jones is your unquestioned starter. He is a solid run-stuffing defensive lineman who can anchor the middle of the defense. Behind him, I have veteran Tyler Lancaster. He replaced Jones in the preseason opener after he went down with a concussion and appears to be the backup nose tackle. He is listed as that in the initial depth chart and was used that way in the opener, so I am giving him the edge here.

I think rookie P.J. Mustipher could push for that job, but for now, he looks to be a practice squad candidate. As for veteran Mike Purcell, it appears that he will start the season on the NFI list since he has missed the entire offseason thus far.

EDGE Rushers(4)

Starters: Randy Gregory and Frank Clark

Backups: Jonathon Cooper and Nik Bonitto

Veterans Randy Gregory and Frank Clark will be your starters, but both are 30 years old and will likely be rotated in and out to stay fresh. That is where the backups, Jonathon Cooper and Nik Bonitto come in. They figure to rotate in early and often and play a significant amount of snaps throughout the year.

All four of these edge rushers have had good camps and flashed during the preseason opener, so hopefully, the Broncos' pass rush is a strength this year. Baron Browning likely starts the season on the PUP but when he returns, the pass-rushing group will be even deeper.

Inside Linebackers(4)

Starters: Josey Jewell and Alex Singleton

Backups: Drew Sanders and Justin Strnad

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.

With Jonas Griffith out for the year, it opens up a roster spot for Justin Strnad. He will fill a special teams role which will help him make the 53-man roster.


Starters: Patrick Surtain II, Damarri Mathis, and K’Waun Williams

Backups: Ja’Quan McMillian 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 corner K’Waun Williams returning for a second straight year and he will man the slot position for the Broncos defense.

As for the fourth corner, I have second-year corner Ja’Quan McMillian making the team. He has had a strong offseason and is listed as the backup for Surtain on the depth chart, so I think he has a good shot at making the team. Moss is currently sidelined with an injury, but unless he starts the year on the PUP, he will be your fifth corner on the roster.


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.

Special Teams(3)

Kicker: ???

Punter: Riley Dixon

Long Snapper: Mitchell Fraboni

I have a question mark at the kicker position because it is simply impossible to predict right now. Brett Maher appeared to be the favorite for the job but he went 0 for 2 in the preseason opener and it appears that his struggles are continuing. Elliott Fry went 1 for 2 on field goal attempts, but I do not feel confident calling him the starter as of yet. So, it could be either of these two kickers or potentially someone not currently on the roster right now.

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.