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'I think you're going to see a lot of growth': HC Sean Payton excited for Marvin Mims Jr.'s potential in Year 2

INDIANAPOLIS — As the Broncos look to evaluate the next crop of draft-eligible players, Head Coach Sean Payton spoke to the step the Broncos' top pick in 2023 could take in Year 2.

"I think you're going to see a lot of growth with this player," Payton said Tuesday of Marvin Mims Jr. "He's tough, he can run and we're certainly excited that we have him."

Payton said the Broncos saw Mims "flourish as a returner" in his first season, as the Oklahoma product was named a Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro as a return specialist.

Mims, who was also selected to the Pro Football Writers of America's All-AFC and All-Rookie teams, averaged the most yards per kick return among any AFC player with at least 15 attempts across the season.

After a 113-yard performance against the Commanders in his second career game, though, Mims posted more than 60 receiving yards in just two games of his final 14 games. He also had four games in which he did not record a catch.

"I really think the only thing that really stopped his progress as a receiver was us and trying to find roles," Payton said. "He's playing the same position as Jerry [Jeudy]."

As the Broncos move toward Mims' second season, Payton believes the coaching staff can find more ways to position him to succeed.

"I think the key is for us — and I say us as coaches in game-planning — is evolving," Payton said. "Every time we've kind of put his name on a certain play, he hasn't disappointed. That doesn't mean the ball always went to him, but the point I'm making is I think his progress was hampered a little bit more with the depth in the room, in what we were able to do and sometimes trying to balance that out. I think we'll see that expand."


The Broncos recently named former University of Wisconsin defensive coordinator and interim head coach Jim Leonhard as Defensive Pass Game Coordinator/Defensive Backs, and Payton said his recruitment of Leonhard dated back to 2023.

Though a hip replacement surgery prevented Leonhard from joining the Broncos' staff in 2023, he now brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the Broncos' coaching staff.

"I think that he's extremely bright, and he was as a player," Payton said. "He solved all the problems as a player. He was in Buffalo, with the Jets, Baltimore and Denver. He played for 10 years, and I think he's got one of these high ceilings that we see with some young coaches. I say young, but it's kind of all relative. I think a lot of him, and we spent a lot of time on that process."

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