The Denver Broncos will kick off their season on September 10 while playing host to the Las Vegas Raiders. Plenty of excitement is in the air for Denver as they attempt to rebound from a 5-12 showing in 2022.
Relying on core players will help the team make a playoff push. Every year, some players come out of nowhere and surprise. Heavy on Broncos will dive into the four players expected to be breakout candidates for the 2023 campaign.
TE Greg Dulcich
Dulcich has media members believing in his potential ahead of his second season in the NFL. One believer is NFL.com writer Kevin Patra who listed Dulcich as a possible first-time Pro Bowler.
“It’s pure projection to predict Dulcich will make a massive leap after catching 33 passes for 411 yards and two TDs in his rookie season,” Patra wrote on August 31. “But the talent is there. The TE owns dynamic run-after-catch and vertical ability to become a force in Sean Payton’s offense. With depth questions at receiver, Dulcich could earn more targets early in the season on his way to a breakout sophomore campaign.”
The vertical ability was evident from the UCLA product’s first game as he scored a 39-yard touchdown against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Dulcich recorded three catches over 30 yards and averaged 12.5 yards per reception in 2022, according to ESPN. Broncos fans can only imagine what the second-year tight end can do with Payton at the helm.
RB Javonte Williams
Williams is coming off a torn ACL he suffered in a Week 4 loss to the Raiders on October 2, 2022. The third-year back “needs to be eased in” as reported by ESPN’s Dan Graziano on August 31. He played sparingly in the preseason, having three carries for 12 yards and four receptions for 18 more.
In his career, Williams has rushed for 1,107 yards and four touchdowns in 21 games. The North Carolina product is expected to split carries with free agent addition Samaje Perine while he returns from injury. Pretty soon, he’ll be barrelling over defenders weekly.
CB Damarri Mathis
Mathis put together a solid rookie campaign in the Mile High City. The Pittsburgh product is listed as the second cornerback on Denver’s depth chart ahead of his sophomore campaign.
Mathis appeared in 16 games last season, starting 11. Despite failing to record an interception in his first year, Mathis recorded 65 total tackles and had seven passes defended, according to Pro Football Reference.
With Patrick Surtain II patrolling one side of the field, opposing signal callers will do anything to avoid the All-Pro. This means that Mathis will likely receive additional opportunities for creating turnovers with more quarterbacks throwing in his direction. That elusive first career interception is coming for Mathis in 2023.
WR Jerry Jeudy
Against the Chiefs, Jeudy snagged three touchdown receptions as Denver nearly overcame an early 27-0 hole. The showing was Jeudy’s first career three-touchdown game and the first such performance by a Broncos receiver since Demaryius Thomas against the Miami Dolphins in November 2014.
Jeudy has been in Denver since being selected 15th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. In that span, the Broncos haven’t had dominant quarterback play while starting the likes of Drew Lock, Teddy Bridgewater and Russell Wilson. Due to the QB carousel, the fourth-year pro has yet to record a 1,000-yard campaign.
With Wilson under center in 2022, Jeudy recorded career highs in receiving yards (972), receptions (67) and touchdowns (6). Despite going down with a hamstring injury on August 24, Jeudy wasn’t placed on short-term injured reserve to begin the year.
That’s excellent news for the Broncos since that designation would’ve forced the playmaker to miss at least four games before returning to the active roster.