The Denver Broncos are heading into the 2023 season hoping to have a complete turnaround from their abysmal 2022 campaign. While the Broncos went 1-2 in the preseason, they still got some positive glimpses of what could be on the horizon for the upcoming season.
Following the completion of the third preseason game, Denver's coaching staff will be tasked with cutting the 90-man roster all the way down to 53. Will there be some veterans who will shockingly lose their spot on the roster?
Justin Strnad – Linebacker
The Broncos drafted Justin Strnad in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Strnad is entering the final year of his rookie contract, but he has spent very little time on the field as a member of the defense. Strnad has spent significant time on Denver's special teams unit, but he has yet to make an impression on defense.
Heading into the 2023 season, the Broncos' starting linebackers will likely be Alex Singleton and Josey Jewell. Denver also drafted Drew Sanders in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Sanders has been turning many heads in practice already, and the rookie is reportedly outperforming the veteran Strnad.
With Strnad on the outside looking in, the best chance he has at making the final roster is in a special teams role. But there is also the chance the Broncos cut ties with him entirely due to his lack of overall production.
Montrell Washington – Wide Receiver
Montrell Washington was drafted by Denver in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft with the idea that he'd provide an instant spark to the team's lackluster punt and kick return game. Unfortunately, that spark never really showed.
Washington averaged 8.5 yards per punt return with a long of 30 yards, as well as averaged 18.9 yards per kickoff with a long of 29 yards. This resulted in the Broncos having the lowest kickoff return average and the 12th-lowest punt return average in the league.
Denver used the offseason to address the need in the return game and drafted speedy WR Marvin Mims Jr. With multiple players getting their shot at the punt and kick returns during the preseason, no one, including Washington, really stood out or locked down the position. It will certainly be interesting to see who Sean Payton designates as the starting return man. But don't be surprised if Washington ends up finding himself as one of the Broncos' roster cuts. However, there is a chance he makes a return to the practice squad.
Albert Okwuegbunam – Tight End
Albert Okwuegbunam came bursting back onto the scene in the final week of training camp and in the preseason game against the Rams. But while the showing has been impressive, is it too little, too late?
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) August 27, 2023
Okwuegbunam had a pretty miserable 2022 campaign, as he was essentially given up on by former head coach Nathaniel Hackett. The big-bodied tight end only had 95 receiving yards and one touchdown in 2022. Even worse, he started the 2023 offseason as the fifth-string tight end behind recently signed Adam Trautman and Chris Manhertz, as well as undrafted rookie free agent Nate Adkins.
Okwuegbunam is freakishly large and athletic, and he could easily become a huge threat on offense. There is the possibility Denver gives Okwuegbunam one more chance and lets Payton work his magic with him. But there is also the possibility the Broncos have already made up their mind and are ready to move on.