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What roles will the Broncos' draft picks play in Denver?

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos now know who belongs to their 2023 draft class.

Denver made five picks in last week's draft, adding wide receiver Marvin Mims Jr., inside linebacker Drew Sanders, cornerback Riley Moss, safety JL Skinner and center Alex Forsyth.

The focus, now, moves from whom the Broncos will take to how they'll contribute to the team.

As Head Coach Sean Payton and General Manager George Paton explained, there is a clear vision for each player — both in Year 1 and in the future.

Below, you'll find a look at how each addition could make an impact in Denver.


Mims joins a crowded position group that includes Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick, but the Broncos believe he can play at a variety of spots on offense.

"He's someone that can play at [the] Z [receiver spot]," Payton said. "He can play at [the] X [receiver spot]. He brings an element of speed you can feel on tape."

That versatility could prove valuable for Mims, as Payton previously said at the NFL Annual Meeting that the team would not pigeonhole its receivers into playing just one position.

"Look, we're not a team that's going to be, 'This is the X, this is the Z, and then this is our sub-slot receiver,'" Payton said. "That's just not going to be us. If you've ever followed what we did in New Orleans, that was never us."

The Broncos also expect Mims to contribute on special teams, as he showed the ability to return punts at Oklahoma.

"He was a captain and face of the program," Payton said. "His makeup was fantastic. He's extremely intelligent, and you feel the top-end speed."


During the pre-draft process, several evaluators suggested Sanders could play either inside or outside linebacker. With Denver, the Broncos expect him to primarily play at the former position.

"Interestingly enough, when he was at Alabama, he's had experience at both inside and out," Payton said after Day 2 of the draft. "It's up to us to start doing some things. We have a tag called pressure player, and to check it, you've got to be unique in regard to rushing the passer. Sometimes, linebackers are pressure players. In New Orleans, Demario Davis — we felt he was a pressure player because when we blitzed him, a percentage of the time, he could affect the quarterback.

"We've had a lot of linebackers that were really good players that weren't pressure players. That's not their first job description. I think this guy fits into that position where he's a pressure player. His production on the quarterback this year would suggest that. We see the 3-4 fit. We see the 3-4 [fit] inside. … I don't know, but I wouldn't have been surprised if a team who plays an under defense might have projected him as the same. We have him inside relative to our vision."

At inside linebacker, Sanders joins a group that includes Josey Jewell, Alex Singleton, Jonas Griffith and Justin Strnad.

Denver also expects him to serve as a core special teams player.


Immediately after Moss was selected, there were questions about whether the Iowa product would move to safety at the next level.

Denver quickly squashed those questions, as Payton said the Broncos' "clear vision" was for Moss to play cornerback.

He'll join a group that includes 2022 starters Pat Surtain II and Damarri Mathis, nickel corner K'Waun Williams and free-agent addition Tremon Smith, among others.

"I don't know how much film we watched, but we picked and tugged and hosed down and looked at every tape," Payton said. "He was in [for a Top-30 visit]. All the numbers, prototype — we loved the makeup."

Many outside evaluators viewed cornerback as a need for the Broncos heading into the draft, which means Moss could compete for playing time as a rookie.


The Broncos were perhaps fortunate to draft Skinner where they did, as a pectoral injury likely caused the Boise State product to fall down the board.

Denver selected Skinner in the sixth round, and he joins a group that could feature a new starter in 2023. Justin Simmons returns for his eighth season in Denver, while Skinner joins Caden Sterns, P.J. Locke and Delarrin Turner-Yell among the current options to fill the void left by Kareem Jackson. Paton did indicate the team's conversations with Jackson remain ongoing, and he did not rule out a return for the veteran player. Paton added that the team's decision to draft Skinner was unrelated to Jackson's status.

Skinner, when healthy, has the athleticism to potentially compete for playing time in Year 1.

"We liked him throughout the process," Paton said. "The first thing you see is the size. He's almost 6[-foot-]4. Then, the athletic ability for that size. We thought was unique. The short-area quickness, the range and you see the ball skills on tape. The thing that really sticks out is his physicality and playing downhill in the run game. You see that all over the tape. He's a fun watch. Sean and I have watched a lot of tape on him, and he's a fun watch. I think the injury did impact where he was drafted. We felt very fortunate to get him where we did."

Skinner also figures to be a special teams contributor.


Denver's final pick should provide more competition along the offensive line.

Forsyth, a three-year collegiate starter, will work primarily at center with the ability to flex to other positions, according to Paton.

"[He is] just tough and smart," Paton said. "[We just] love the way he plays the game, and he's going to compete like everyone else."

After playing guard and tackle earlier in his career at Oregon, Forsyth said he believes the transition to the middle of the offensive line highlights his best qualities.

"The last three years playing just center, it plays into my strengths, because I think I'm a real cerebral player," Forsyth said. "Just understanding the offense and the schemes — all that, for me, is really important. I think I have good leadership qualities, so I think that's kind of played into my strengths."

Forsyth could compete with incumbent starter Lloyd Cushenberry III and free-agent addition Kyle Fuller — among others — for a role in Denver.

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