Can the Denver Broncos compete in the AFC West in 2023?

The Broncos made some interesting moves offseason, including a high profile hire of new head coach, Sean Payton. Let's take a dive and see if we think they can actually be competitive this coming season.
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The Denver Broncos have been the perpetual laughingstock of the AFC West throughout the Patrick Mahomes era. No other AFC West team has fared worse. This offseason, it seems like the Broncos may have made some moves that might make them at least mildly competitive. Will they win the AFC West? Of course not. That crown belongs to the Chiefs until some other team takes it. Can they at least make waves? I think so.

The most problematic area for the Broncos in recent years has been the horrible lack of protection for their carousel of quarterbacks. The Broncos addressed that this offseason by signing both Mike McGlinchey and Ben Powers.

We all know Broncos linemen have resembled revolving doors against defensive lines, so allowing Russell Wilson to have protection, especially since we all agree that Wilson is getting older, might just allow him to have enough time to hit his receivers. The Broncos receiving core is pretty good, so their offense, with proper protection (and assuming Russell Wilson "rides"), looks better in 2023.

In addition to the signings along the offensive line, the Broncos also spent money on their defensive line. The Broncos allowed Dre'Mont Jones to walk (and Seattle signed him to a big contract). To replace Jones, the Broncos stole Zach Allen from Arizona. Allen costs less money and generally ranked higher than Jones in PFF WAR.

What strikes me with both the offensive line and the defensive line moves by the Broncos is that they are focusing on the trenches. I think we all agree that the Broncos certainly had offensive pieces and a good secondary, but that doesn't matter if you can't control the line. That seems to be changing in Mile High.

first-roundTurning to the Broncos draft, let's not forget that the Broncos had no first round pick thanks to their decision to trade for Russell Wilson. That certainly doesn't look like a good move right now, but maybe a second year will help.

The Broncos' five picks included the following: wide receiver Marvin Mims, linebacker Drew Sanders, cornerback Riley Moss, safety JL Skinner, and center Alex Forsyth. These are not stunning drafts, but they fill needs. It shores up the secondary, makes wide receivers more competitive, and could contain their center of the future. All things considered and given their little draft capital, the Broncos seemed to address needs.

So what is left? Well, three things: first, is Sean Payton going to work his magic? He is a fantastic coach but at the end of the day, he has to get his players to produce. If he can't get the most out of his players in a division like the AFC West, they will see themselves at the bottom again.

Second, will Russell Wilson produce? Let's be honest, Wilson was terrible last year but seemed to do better as the season was winding down. Does that trend continue? Will he thrive in a new offense under a new coach? Can he give up his office?

Finally, the last question is running back. Javonte Williams is still working back from his knee injury, but coming from someone who has had a knee injury in the past, it is hard to come back in just one year. While the Broncos picked up Samaje Perine in the offseason, they probably need at least one more in the backfield to make it through the difficult season.

So what is my conclusion for the Broncos? They had a good offseason. They made long-term moves that will benefit them in the future. They are probably setting themselves up for success down the road, but it will take more than one offseason for the Broncos to become truly competitive in the AFC West.