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Which Broncos players will be the breakout stars on offense and defense this upcoming season?

I asked the Mile High Report staff to give me their breakout stars on offense and defense for the Broncos this upcoming season.

Denver Broncos vs Los Angeles during their final preseason game of the 2023 NFL season. Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Each year, a player or two on each side of the ball usually has a breakout year and solidifies themselves as a vital member of the roster moving forward. Last year, we saw rookie tight end Greg Dulcich prove himself as a pass-catching threat while rookie cornerback Damarri Mathis proved himself as a starting cornerback opposite of All-Pro corner Patrick Surtain II. So, which two players (or more) have a chance to do that this year for the Denver Broncos?

I asked the Mile High Report staff that exact question and they named a few impressive-looking rookies and we even saw a few second-year players make the list. Here are their answers and let us know if you agree or disagree with their thoughts and opinions.

Tim Lynch

Offense: Jaleel McLaughlin. Let this kid loose! I’m present for it.

Defense: Drew Sanders on Travis Kelce. Make it happen and make it actually work out this time!


Offense: WR Marvin Mims Jr.

The rookie wide receiver was Sean Payton’s first selection as a member of the Broncos and Payton has a history of having success with rookie WRs. He’s a deep threat who should catch multiple deep balls from QB Russell Wilson

Defense: EDGE Nik Bonitto

The second-year edge rusher looks like a completely different player this year and is coming off a strong camp and preseason. I don’t think it’s out of the question that we see him lead the Broncos in sacks and hit double digits in sacks

Nick Burch

Offense - Dulcich

Defense - Sterns

Rachel Strand

Offense: Jaleel McLaughlin. I second Tim here...let the kid loose! Let him carry his momentum from his impressive preseason in the regular season. Side note, if the Broncos running backs stay healthy, they could EASILY become one of the best running back rooms in the NFL in 2023.

Defense: Drew Sanders. I want the hard-hitting rookie to see significant time on the field in 2023. Will our linebacker group finally be able to cover tight ends...hopefully?

Adam Malnati

Offense - I’ve put my eggs in the Greg Dulcich basket for fantasy football this season. I expect him to become Russell Wilson’s go to in the middle of the field, and a nice red zone target.

Defense - Nik Bonnito is a good candidate here. The secondary is good, and that means time to get to the QB, and that means EDGE. There will be a good rotation of players getting their chances, but I think the game slows down in year two and he takes advantage.

Ian St. Clair

Defense — I’m going with Damarri Mathis. The second-year cornerback has had a great training camp and preseason, and he’ll carry that over to the regular season. Mathis will turn out to be a great complement to Pat Surtain II and make this already great secondary even better.

Offense — Mims. The deep-threat ability, athleticism and speed will be on full display. It’s another weapon for Wilson/Payton to use and we’ll finally see Wilson’s deep-threat ability shine in Denver.

Mike DeCicco

Offense: Brandon Johnson

Defense: Drew Sanders

Christopher Hart

On offense, I think Marvin Mims has a chance to make a major impact as a rookie in 2023. Despite his size, he is tremendous on contested catches and can play inside and out. I thought he was one of the better talents in this past year’s draft. In my eyes, he might be the most important receiver the Broncos have this season. I think he will really surprise people.

On defense, I’ll say Drew Sanders. He might not end up being the sum of all his parts, but I think he is going to flash in a big way during Denver’s 2023 campaign. He has the potential to be a star in the NFL and I believe we will witness that in patches throughout the season.


Offense: Greg Dulcich is going do stupid things on offense with the injuries at WR early.

Defense: Jonathan Cooper is going to take a key step forward for his career this season. Denver needs a consistent healthy edge and Cooper is going to get his shot to make noise on 3rd and long.