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Denver Broncos March Scouting Report
Charles Rives

No Super Bowl-winning coach has changed franchises and won another title with his new team. Payton wants to be the first and has chosen the Broncos for his first try. Make no mistake: the Broncos are going to be run by Payton. GM George Paton’s will be to draft better at the back end of the draft and keep the salary cap from becoming a nightmare (as it did when Payton was in New Orleans). Denver wanted a coach with proven offensive prowess, attention to detail and a no-nonsense approach. Payton searches maniacally for details to sharpen on the field, the training room and the weight room.

Payton brings with him Super Bowl experience and a way to get things done. He spends more time looking at his team than looking at his opponents as he builds his matchup-oriented offense. Everything matters from how they travel, how they celebrate in the locker room and everyone hearing the celebrating, especially, on the road. Payton connects with his players and expects as much from them as he expects from himself.

Payton knows what it takes to win, and it's ALL about winning. He know what to look for and what to craft with his new team. He's going to change things. His style of coaching isn't for everyone, but he's the coach and so the players are going to have to adapt to what he does. it's hard to figure out Sean Payton but, he tries to be one or two plays ahead of the opponents defense.

Payton, has a knack for generating a dynamic, quick passing game, as well as the ability to create high-quality offensive line play. He also places his offensive weapons in a position to succeed. QB Russell Wilson will need to overcome his long-standing issue of holding onto the football to extend the play by delivering the ball with timing and accuracy. Mixing the quick game with a power running game opens the play-action shots down the field which is Wilson's strength. WR Courtland Sutton, is very similar to Saint’s WR Michael Thomas, in frame and body type, athletic profile in terms of short-area quickness and explosiveness, big-bodied possession receiver aspect of his game, and his ability to stretch the field vertically and to high-point the football. Using Sutton in the Thomas role is the best way to use him and get the most out of WRs Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and KJ Hamler. Payton could also use Jeudy in a Michael Thomas-style slot role. Payton doesn’t believe in sitting all his players during the three preseason games because he hasn’t seen the any data that tells him resting in preseason prevents injuries. Payton will have a plan so the players will get reps before the regular season.

The Broncos have playoff expectations for 2023, but they made their big swing with Payton, so it’s now time for a practical approach to the off season. They shouldn’t be limited this offseason in their pursuit of free agents because the new owners have the cash resources to get around the cap, but the cap is still an equalizer in the NFL. The Broncos need both cap flexibility and draft capital in 2024 if things don't work out with Wilson. Payton will need to find players who will fit his offense but he needs to be smart about how he uses his resources. With a good cap situation and draft capital, they will have maximum flexibility to improve the team in 2024. To achieve this, they should: 1) renegotiate (not restructure) salaries, converting money into incentives so they have the flexibility flexibility to cut players in 2024. 2) Consider trading a player for value (not just any offer), particularly if the player doesn’t have a future with the team. 3) Trade down in the 2023 draft unless there is a player you just can't pass up. 4) Sign the ideal backup quarterback (1 year) unless Payton believes Brett Rypien (RFA) can be that player. 5) Draft a long-term backup quarterback in the later rounds after a trading down.

Building a winning culture is not easy. It requires daily/and monthly work because it can slide or slip quickly. Payton’s attention to detail will help craft his culture because he’s only going to coach the Broncos one way; his way, means with passion, dedication, and creating the culture through daily habits. With the right people. With the details. With less social media hype and less visibility from Broncos. "Team Russ" is over. Payton’s staff, his players and that’ll be it. The Broncos are going to get to work and that’s how they will do it from the get go. Payton believes the little things matter because they’re indicators of something bigger (wearing orange). Payton’s vision: upward and forward, based on getting the little things right.

Coaches Watch

Beau Lowery-VP player health and performance.

Logan Kilgor quality control coach "with the passing game"

Zach Strief-offensive line

Declan Doyle-TEs

Ben Kotwica-Special Teams Coordinator

Mike Westhoff-Assistant Head Coach/Special teams

Dan Dalrymple-Strength and Conditioning

Vance Joseph-Defensive Coordinator

Marcus Dixon-defensive line

Christian Parker-defensive backs

Greg Manusky -ILBs

Michael Wilhoite OLBs

Joe Lombardi -Coordinator type role (Offense)

Keary Colbert-WRs

Davis Webb-QBs

Chris Banjo-Assistant Special Teams

John Morton-passing game coordinator

Kory Jones-assistant strength and conditioning

Paul Kelly-assistant to head coach

Lou Ayeni-running backs

Free Agent Watch

Teams can place the franchise or transition tag on players whose contracts are set to expire through March 7. Teams that use a tender have until mid-July to work out a multi-year contract and if there is no an extension the player will play under the tag during 2023.

Denver priority needs: interior defender, right tackle, center, running back.

Free agents of interest: Jermaine Eluemunor, RT; Connor McGovern, C; Ben Powers, LG; Greg Gaines, DL; Armon Watts, DL; Khalen Saunders, DL; Taven Bryan, DL; Shy Tuttle, DL; David Montgomery, RB; Kareem Hunt, RB; Damien Harris, RB; Jeff Wilson Jr., RB; Jamaal Williams, RB; Alexander Mattison, RB; D’Onta Foreman, RB; Michael Thomas, WR; Robert Woods, WR; Marvin Jones, WR; Julio Jones, WR; Jarvis Landry, WR; Jamison Crowder, WR.

The Broncos should: Cut OL Graham Glasgow DL Mike Purcell CB Ronald Darby RB Chase Edmonds. Keep OLB Jacob Martin. Tender All Exclusive Rights Free Agents. Re-Sign RFAs Essang Bassey, P.J. Locke & Jacob Bobenmoyer to a one-year deal with no guaranteed money. Re-sign DL Dre’Mont Jones (5 years $16.5M-$17.5M/year, $50M guaranteed) or tag and trade him.

Draft Watch

The Broncos currently have five draft picks, and the second-lowest draft pick value (Mia) in 2023. There doesn’t seem to be much offensive skill players in the draft and IMO, they shouldn’t trade proven talent on their roster for draft picks. The draft appears to have good depth at offensive tackle, edge rushers and a strong tight end class.

Pick 67 Darnell Wright, OT/Ten.

Pick 68 Tyrique Stevenson, CB/Miami (Fla.)

Pick 106 Jaxson Kirkland, G/Washington

Pick 139 Kei’Trel Clark, CB/ Louisville

Pick 193 Byron Young, DL/Ala.

Orangeman’s Take

Payton is the right choice because he apparently believes he can fix Russell Wilson (there is skepticism about Wilson bending to Payton's will) with his creative offensive mind and culture building. Payton has a shot at quickly turning around the Broncos with a roster that has good talent.

Everything the Broncos do this offseason should be to insure they have the best players available to them in the trenches and a running back. RB Javonte Williams (23) tore his ACL and lateral ligament and damaged the posterolateral corner (ligaments and tendons) which helps stabilize the knee. Payton is set on putting together a good run game, emphasizing a "diverse" backfield skill set, to make things easier on Russell Wilson and the rest of the offense. He will use the "tush push" quarterback sneak if the NFL doesn’t outlaw it.

But, Denver needs its 2022 rookies to make a second year leap, especially Nik Bonitto, Greg Dulcich, Damarri Mathis and Montrell Washington. For Payton, Intelligence, communication, football makeup, discipline, toughness, and character will be important traits for whoever becomes a Denver Bronco.

DC Vance Joseph runs an attacking 3-4 defense, which matches the Broncos' personnel and Payton’s preferred defensive style.

The NFLPA report card shows that Sean Payton isn’t the only with a lot of work to do: Treatment of families: D+, T-24; Food service/nutrition: D, T-22; Weight room: B+, T-13; Strength coaches (replaced): A-, T-17; Training room: C+, T17; Training staff: B, T-28; Locker room: D+, T-22; Team travel: B+, T-12. Fortunately for Greg Penner, the Broncos players believe he will take the necessary steps to upgrade the team’s facilities and services.

Denver Broncos 2023 Opponents Home: Kansas City Chiefs Los Angeles Chargers Las Vegas Raiders New York Jets New England Patriots Green Bay Packers Minnesota Vikings Cleveland Browns Washington Commanders. Away: Kansas City Chiefs Los Angeles Chargers Las Vegas Raiders Miami Dolphins Buffalo Bills Chicago Bears Detroit Lions Houston Texans. Denver will face the NFL’s 12th-hardest strength of schedule in 2023 (.517), based on their opponents’ records in 2022.

Fantasy Outlook

QB Russell Wilson should throw the ball on early downs (more than league-average), throw more and increase his touchdowns. Payton likes high production in the passing game from running backs. Keep an eye on all Bronco running backs in case Williams is slow to recover from his ACL+ injury. Williams may not be much of a fantasy factor this year. The wide receiver and tight end rooms are not set in stone. To change the culture, you have to change the people. It has started with the new ownership group and Sean Payton and his new coaching staff. The players are next with free agency followed in April with the NFL Draft. Stay tuned-"the times, they are a changing"!



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