The Denver Broncos are just under a month away from reporting for the start of training camp, which means NFL football is inching closer and closer to returning. In this latest installment of our Broncos Mailbag at Mile High Sports, Broncos fans sent in their questions via email to [email protected] or through Twitter @CodyRoarkNFL.

Please send in your Broncos-related questions, which’ll be featured in our next column.

If Drew Sanders plays extremely well, would there be a chance of trying to trade Josey Jewell or Jonas Griffith? If so, what would be reasonable compensation for either of those players? – Larry V.

Great question here, Larry. I believe Sanders has all of the fast-twitch athletic tools and football IQ to make an impact immediately. However, the Denver Broncos linebacker room right now might be the best they’ve had in a while in terms of depth. Sanders looked great during rookie minicamp but didn’t participate much in organized team activities or minicamp due to an undisclosed injury.

Sean Payton told us that he and Marvin Mims are healing fast and are mentally sharp, suggesting the mental reps they received were valuable enough. Everybody’s hope is that he’ll be fully ready to go for the start of training camp, where the real evaluation begins once the pads come on. To your question, though, if Sanders played extremely well in the preseason, I don’t think the Broncos would look to trade either Jewell or Griffith, and here’s why.

Linebacker is one of the most physically demanding positions to play, and it’s usually not a question surrounding if but when an injury may pop up at the position. Jewell missed a few games last year with a knee sprain but returned and continued to play at a high level. He’s in the final year of his deal with the Broncos. If Sanders plays well, it provides Payton and the Broncos with a vision that he could step into a potential starting role next year alongside Alex Singleton.

Right now, Jewell is far too valuable for the team to move on from, and he could also play himself into a new contract extension. Denver has all of the creative flexibility to utilize Sanders in various personnel packages. Griffith is somebody that the Broncos view highly internally and also has the potential to start at some point. With Singleton’s promotion to a full-time starter, it seems unlikely that the Broncos leading tackler from last year will play as much on special teams — which opens the door for Sanders and Griffith to establish themselves there this season.

Which Denver Broncos rookie will have the opportunity to have the biggest impact in year one? – Matt U.

Thanks for the question, Matt! It feels like Marvin Mims is in the best position to have the biggest impact considering the speed dynamic that he provides. Not only is he projected to play a role inside of Sean Payton’s offense, but there’s also a belief that he’ll emerge as the team’s top return option on special teams as well.

The optics on this year’s class and what type of impact they may have right away are interesting, considering that Denver’s overall depth on paper looks very solid at the positions some of these rookies play. Sanders has all of the talents in his arsenal to make an impact right away and could, but it’s hard to imagine what that looks like with Josey Jewell and Alex Singleton leading as starters.

Mims is also part of a deep room featuring Tim Patrick, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and KJ Hamler as the top four options for the position.  At cornerback, Riley Moss is expected to play a lot of special teams this upcoming season but is projected to be the key backup behind Patrick Surtain and Damarri Mathis.

For this rookie class, in particular, the circumstances are unique due to the starting depth ahead of them. 2023 may be a year where Broncos fans see this year’s rookie class start off in role-player-type roles, and that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. With the high volume of snaps and reps, each rookie will be in a position to step up and play if an injury happens.

Damarri Mathis is a great example of that after he stepped into the starting cornerback job after Ronald Darby suffered a torn ACL. Player development and patience are important, but any of these rookies could make a strong case to have an impact immediately.

How might training camp be different under Sean Payton compared to Nathaniel Hackett? – John C.

The vibe for Denver Broncos Training Camp last year was exciting initially under former head coach Nathaniel Hackett. Unfortunately, his personality and coaching style wasn’t enough to put the Broncos in a position to succeed. While practice was upbeat under Hackett, that vibe still remains in place under Sean Payton, at least from what we observed during OTAs.

The main difference in what we saw from Payton’s practices is that each day has a specific theme, and the tempo is constant. There’s a rhyme and reason to everything Payton and his coaching staff do; they go from period to period efficiently, and players look completely bought in.

NFL teams are limited in OTAs and even training camp on how long they can do things, and Payton maximizes every second he can to put his team in a position to succeed. I haven’t come away from a single practice where it felt like the team wasted time doing a certain drill or period under Payton. Under Hackett, there were several days like that last season.

At the end of the day, Payton is 100% business; his job is to get the Broncos back into their previous winning ways. That’s what he’s focused on with every practice and meeting he has throughout the day, and it seems like he has complete and total control of the operation, which is needed for the team.

Is there any particular training camp position battle that you’re focused on? – Daniel W.

Thanks for your question, Daniel. I feel like this year’s training camp doesn’t have as many ‘in your face type of training camp position battles as we’ve seen throughout the last few seasons.

There will be competition across the board for various positions and players, but I have my eye on the wide receiver position. With Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, and KJ Hamler returning, rookie Marvin Mims will be primed for a role inside of Payton’s offense, but there will likely be an extensive focus on the sixth wide receiver spot.

A lot of Broncos fans have questioned whether or not Hamler will have to compete for a roster spot, but Mike Klis recently reported that the Broncos restructured his contract in a way that suggests he’ll make the team.

Aside from the contract adjustment, Hamler has a strong supporting cast of Russell Wilson, Tim Patrick, Courtland Sutton, and others. He’s viewed as an important piece to the offense.

Marquez Callaway, Kendall Hinton, Jalen Virgil, Brandon Johnson, Taylor Grimes, and Lil’Jordan Humphrey will likely compete for that sixth spot at the position. Callaway enters camp as the perceived favorite considering his history and production inside of Payton’s New Orleans Saints offense in 2020 and 2021.

Hinton has proven to be a reliable role player for Denver over the past couple of seasons. Virgil made the 53-man roster last year as an undrafted rookie free agent, while Johnson emerged from the practice squad.

Grimes is an undrafted rookie free agent this year. Humphrey has previous familiarity with Payton. It all boils down to contributions in practice and the impact shown in the preseason, which makes the depth evaluation at the wide receiver position more interesting.

What’s next?
Denver Broncos training camp kicks off later this month on Friday, July 28.