Broncos in the NFL: Former Broncos featured in the 2023 NFL season

Photo of Albertsons Stadium featuring Boise State logo and NFL logo. Graphic by Kelsey Mason

The Broncos are fresh off winning the Mountain West Championship and signing their highest ranked recruit in history, Malachi Nelson, for the 2024 season. Despite the great current condition the program is in, it does not go without mentioning the legendary Bronco Football Alumni who have led the Broncos in previous years and continue to make strides in the NFL. 

The Broncos have had incredibly successful alumni in recent years, including All-Pro Doug Martin and Super Bowl winner Jay Ajayi. However, this current class of former Broncos is one of the best in recent history.


For many fans, they remember watching these players tear it up on the Blue week in and week out. The Broncos were able to produce three rookies that made their way to the league for the 2023 season.


The most impressive of the three is undoubtedly defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Charges, Scott Matlock. 

The 200th overall pick in the 6th round was able to make a name for himself right away despite his late round draft pick and making the active 53 man roster. He was able to appear in 12 of the Chargers 17 games this season and notched 15 tackles in his rookie season. 

During the stretch of the last six straight games of the Chargers season he recorded his best games. This bodes well for him going into next season when he looks to carve out an even bigger role for himself.


The 183rd overall pick in the 6th round was a fan favorite at Boise. Anyone who watched their games almost certainly remembers his electric play style that had him flying all over the field. Unfortunately, shortly before the NFL draft he would suffer a torn pectoral that would make him miss the combine, slide in the draft and even cause him to miss a large majority of the season. 

Despite appearing in two games this season, he unfortunately didn’t record any stats in those games. Now fully healthy, he will have the opportunity to bounce back this following season and light the NFL on fire just like he did the Mountain West for years.


While Tyreque Jones didn’t have the special draft day moment he was hoping for, he was quickly signed by the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent. 

Unfortunately for Jones this season has been one of lows for him. 

While he had a good showing in the preseason for the Titans he was unable to make the 53 man roster. He was then quickly picked up by the New York Jets and stayed a member of the Jets for the rest of the season. He did not end up re-signing with the team and signed the Las Vegas Raiders instead on Jan. 16. 

While he wasn’t able to see the field in 2023, his career in the NFL is far from over. He was able to survive his rookie season and now has a team giving him a chance for the 2024 season. 


While many have gone on to the NFL from Boise State, being able to make it on this stage can be tough for every player. But for those who manage to go from dominating college ball to dominating the big league get their names known on a global scale. 


The second-year wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills holds a place in the hearts of Bronco Nation. After a phenomenal stint at Boise State, Shakir was taken in the 2022 NFL draft by the Bills with the 148th pick in the 5th round. 

Despite a slow rookie season where Shakir only had 10 catches for 161 yards, he burst onto the scene in the 2023 NFL season and solidified himself a bonafide starter in a high-power offense. 

Despite having to compete for targets with top pass catchers like Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis and Dalton Kincaid, he still had two 100 yard games and led the team in receiving on three occasions. He finished his 2023 campaign with 39 catches for 611 yards and two touchdowns and even managed to add two more touchdowns in his two playoff games. 

His state even went  toe-to-toe with All-Pro wide receiver Stefon Diggs . While Diggs was dominant early in the year, Shakir outshined him as the season progressed. Most notably in the last 10 games of the season Diggs doubled Shakir in targets having 80 to his 37, but was actually outgained only having 422 yards to Shakir’s 462. He will certainly look to add even more to those numbers next year after a heart breaking playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round of the playoffs.  


Ezra Clevland is one of the higher draft picks in recent history for the Broncos, selected 58th overall in the 2nd round of the 2020 NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings.

Cleveland has been a starter since day one for the Vikings. He was a part of their starting offensive line for the past year and played in the teams first six games until he was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars where he started five of nine games he played in. 

Despite being a rotational player, Cleveland found his role quickly in the offense, only giving up one penalty and two sacks during his nine games played as a Jaguar. Despite being shipped from Minnesota midseason, Cleveland was able to gather his footing as the season progressed in this Jacksonville offense.


This was supposed to be the year of Alexander Mattison. 

The Minnesota Vikings had moved on from four-time Pro Bowler Dalvin Cook in favor of the fifth-year man out of Boise State. After resigning and being named the starter for the 2023 season expectations were at an all time high for Mattison. However, despite the high hopes the season started off shaky. 

After a few rough performances the Vikings traded for Rams running back Cam Akers to split the backfield with Mattison. During the 2023 season he started 13 of 16 games, yet failed to rush for 100 yards a single time and ended the season with the 32nd most rushing yards in the NFL, with 700 rushing yards. While it was his best year of his career his future in Minnesota is now surrounded by question marks. 


Despite having a hot start to the year racking up 30 tackles in the first six games, the Cowboys former 19th overall pick even managed to record his first career touchdown. Unfortunately his season abruptly ended after a neck injury. While this is not his first neck injury, as he had one in 2019 and one in 2016 during his Boise State days, this one seems to be even worse. 

After his 2019 injury he was diagnosed with cervical spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column in the neck. He had surgery on it in 2020 and has been closely monitored since. However with this reaggregation his career is in jeopardy and we may have seen the last of this Bronco in the NFL.


While the tenth year defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys started all 17 games this season, age is starting to slow down his productivity. 

Lawrence had just four sacks and 50 tackles on the year, however he is still as useful as ever. The veteran not only led his team to the second seed in the NFC this season, he is still one of the elite edge rushers, notching 10 tackles for loss on the season. Despite an early playoff exit, Lawrence is still looking for the glory of the Super Bowl with the team that took a chance on him. 


While the tenth year offensive tackle hasn’t had the most glorious career during his tenures in Chicago and Washington, he has become one of the most consistent players in the league. 

Leno has started every game in the season for seven of the last eight NFL seasons, even making a Pro Bowl in that time. He is a staple offensive lineman for the Commanders and has still shown his toughness at age 32. 

Leno has also become more versatile in recent years. Before he has solely played left tackle but has been able to adapt his game in order to play on the right side as well. This flexibility led him to playing 98% of the team’s offensive snaps this season and only allowing three sacks.


While these players might not be lighting up the league on a weekly basis, they are still a part of the top 1% of college football players that make it to the league. Despite not being the big names, you can be sure these guys give it everything they have and contribute every way they can for their teams. 


The 5th year wide receiver drafted by the Dallas Cowboys quietly had one of his best seasons in his second year as a Miami Dolphin, hauling 22 catches for 296 yards and three touchdowns. Despite competing for targets with great receivers such as Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, Wilson was still able to carve out the number three role on this electrice offense, helping quarterback Tua Tagovailoa lead the NFL in passing yards. 

Despite a rough end to the season that included a first playoff exit, Wilson had the second best season of his still young career.


While the 4th year man found himself a new team in 2023, he started the year buried on the depth chart and not on the active 53 man roster for the Los Angeles Rams. However due to injuries to others Rypien found his way into two games at  quarterback and even started one of them. Throwing for 172 yards, he is still pushing for his breakthrough.


Despite having limited usage in the passing game, the third year backup tight end for the Washington Commanders, John Bates, only hauled in 19 catches for 151 yards. He has continued to earn himself playing time due to his involvement in the run game blocking for their running backs alongside former Bronco Charles Leno Jr.


The third year return specialist for the Atlanta Falcons has had a solid start to his career being a solid kick and punt returner. Unfortunately for Williams he tore his ACL before the season and missed the entire year due to the injury. 

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