The 2023 season for the Denver Broncos was a rollercoaster of ups and downs, twists and turns, excitement and heartbreak. As we look back on the season, our Mile High Sports staff shared their votes on various categories surrounding the Broncos to reflect on the season.

Denver Broncos defensive player of the year

Which players did the MHS staff vote on for Broncos defensive player of the year? Even though Denver’s offense sputtered often at times this season, there are various players worth recognizing.

Cody Roark:
This could be defensive back bias from me, but I truly believe the easy answer here would be Justin Simmons or Patrick Surtain II. I’m going to go against the grain and pivot from somebody, not Surtain or Simmons and choose Ja’Quan McMillian. McMillian was one of the biggest personnel changes that Vance Joseph made following Denver’s 50-point debacle against the Miami Dolphins in Week 3. Watching McMillian in training camp, it wasn’t a surprise to me how he played this season. Justin Simmons called McMillian the team’s defensive MVP from this season, and I agree. Appearing in 16 games for the Broncos this season, McMillian had 51 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, which is impressive for a defensive back, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries with five passes defensed and two sacks. He’s one of the most technically refined young cornerbacks in the NFL, and he is a gem that Denver has the chance to do right by going forward.

Doug Ottewill:
The obvious choices are Patrick Surtain II and Justin Simmons, which would be justified given their Pro Bowl status. Alex Singleton obviously had a statistically unprecedented season. But among those choices, I guess I’d lean toward Singleton, although I think a lot of his statistics are a byproduct of poor tackling in front of him. Singleton doesn’t necessarily change games, but his motor is something special. He’s incredibly reliable and clearly played his tail off all season.

Rich Kurtzman:
Alex Singleton. He was all over the field in basically every game and set a new NFL record with 13 games of 10-plus tackles. He’s a beast in the middle of the defense.

Shawn Drotar:
Justin Simmons. Throw out the stats. When Simmons was on the field, the Broncos’ defense was good to occasionally excellent. When he wasn’t, calling Denver’s otherwise abysmal defense “porous” would’ve been a compliment. Simmons’ supercomputer football brain and pitch-perfect technique make him one of the NFL’s elite safeties, and while he’s not the “rah-rah” type, his multiple NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year nominations illustrate his ability to lead, both on and off the field. Now 30, Simmons is the Broncos’ best player – period – and he deserves infinitely better than the seventh consecutive losing season he’s just endured. He never complains, is always willing to give a thoughtful answer to almost any question, and represents the city of Denver with grace while playing some of the best football at the position in Broncos history. Expect more of the same for as long as the Broncos are lucky to have him.

Lindsay Bebout:
I am giving Ja’Quan McMillian the Broncos’ defensive player of the year designation. In a season that was mainly disappointing, he turned out to be a wonderful surprise that no one saw coming. He started the year with limited playing time, which continued to increase as other players performed poorly. The Broncos midseason win streak was largely due to their defense creating turnovers, which McMillian became known for. In 2023, he had two sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. He had such a direct impact on the success achieved by the defense that was missing before he took over as a starter. With an entire offseason and training camp preparing to be a starter on his horizon, I think McMillian will be even more impressive next season.