The Denver Broncos have solid depth at the inside linebacker position heading into the start of training camp. What will the dynamic of Josey Jewell and Alex Singleton bring to the table this year on defense, and who are the players expected to contribute behind them?

Denver Broncos top linebacker duo returns

The Denver Broncos have a dynamic duo at the inside linebacker position, with Josey Jewell and Alex Singleton headlining as the projected starters for this upcoming season. Both players solidified their starting status at the midway point of last season.

In 2022, both Singleton (163) and Jewell (128) led the team in tackles, respectively, according to Pro Football Reference. With Vance Joseph returning to the Broncos to call the defensive plays this season, both players are projected to return as the starters at the inside backer position.

Jewell is entering the final year of his deal with the Broncos but has easily emerged as one of the team’s biggest impact players on the defensive side of the ball. If he can continue to maintain his level of play, he’ll be in line to earn a possible contract extension this season. With how the Broncos are built under general manager George Paton, it wouldn’t be a shock if Jewell received an in-season extension if his impact is felt early on.

Continuity is also a key for Paton, as he and Sean Payton agreed on keeping Alex Singleton around this offseason with a three-year extension. Singleton was one of the Broncos’ biggest surprises last season — surpassing any expectation had of him after he initially signed a one-year deal in free agency to come to Denver.

In particular, Singleton is always aggressive in his pursuit of the football, playing with a high motor which led to him having a 21-tackle game and a 20-tackle game last season. His level of play stood out to Payton and Joseph, and he’ll more than likely stay in a solidified role on defense, which could impact whether or not he plays as many snaps on special teams.

How does the Denver Broncos linebacker depth shake out? Are there any position battles?
With a brand new coaching staff taking over the Broncos this season, depth options and role players are in a position to prove themselves once again. Behind Jewell and Singleton, the Broncos have Justin Strnad and Jonas Griffith as the only two players returning from last season.

New additions to the position include new linebacker coach Greg Manusky, rookie linebacker Drew Sanders, and undrafted rookie free agent Seth Benson. After selecting Sanders in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft, it’s easy to tell why the Broncos are high on the rookie from Arkansas.

Sanders shined during the Broncos rookie minicamp and easily looked like one of the best players on the field. His height, athleticism, and football IQ were on display consistently. Unfortunately, Sanders dealt with an injury during Broncos OTAs and mandatory minicamp, but the hope is that he’ll be fully ready to go come training camp.

How he fits into the scheme of things will be interesting, considering Jewell and Singleton are the projected starters. Sanders could be mixed into some of Joseph’s different personnel packages, but the initial expectation is that he’ll be a defensive role player and primarily contribute on special teams.

Justin Strnad enters the final year of his rookie deal with the Broncos. He’s become one of Denver’s core-four special teams players and has established himself as one of their top players on the special teams side of the ball. With Singleton more than likely transitioning into a main role on defense, Strnad, Sanders, and Jonas Griffith will have to immerse themselves as impact players on special teams under new coordinator Ben Kotwica.

Griffith returns to the Broncos for 2023 after signing his exclusive-rights free-agent tender. Griffith was the projected starter last season alongside Jewell, but a foot injury caused him to miss the remainder of the season last year.

He’s too talented of a player to let go and has demonstrated the growth pattern of being a potential starter. Considering how physical the linebacker position is, injuries are a high possibility for the position itself. The Broncos must ensure their depth can step in and play at a high level.

Right now, on paper, with Sanders projected vision from Payton and Griffith’s prior experience as a starter — Denver is in a good position right now as they head into training camp. Strnad also has the ability to develop into a starter and has grown consistently year over year despite missing his rookie season due to injury.

It wouldn’t come as a shock if the Broncos did, in fact, carry five linebackers on their active roster this upcoming season. Where does that leave undrafted rookie free agent Seth Benson?

Benson is the definition of an Iowa Hawkeye. He makes up for what he lacks in speed or size with relentless effort and good instincts. He’ll play quite a bit during the NFL preseason, but it seems like a longshot for him to make the active roster considering the players ahead of him — but if he doesn’t make the roster, he is the top player in this author’s opinion who will be signed back to the team’s practice squad if another team does snag him.

During rookie minicamp and organized team activities, Benson stood out like a sore thumb by just being around the football and embracing every role he’s been given during the team’s special teams period.

Denver Broncos linebacker position overview
Josey Jewell, Alex Singleton, Drew Sanders, Justin Strnad, Jonas Griffith, and Seth Benson make up the entirety of the linebacker room.

Storylines to watch at LB

  • How do Jewell and Singleton mesh inside Vance Joseph’s defense?
  • What type of role will Drew Sanders play this upcoming season on defense?
  • Could Denver emerge into a Top 10 special teams unit with Sanders, Strnad, and Griffith serving as core-four contributors?

What’s next?
Denver Broncos training camp officially kicks off on July 28 at the Centura Health Training Center.