Are we overrating the Denver Broncos’ talent? PFF thinks so

Josey Jewell. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports.
Josey Jewell. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports.

The widely held belief in the Rocky Mountain region is that the Denver Broncos have had one of the league’s most talent-rich rosters for several seasons.

That it was just their lack of a quarterback and quality head coach that was holding them back, and now, with those problems solved, the Broncos are ready to compete for a Super Bowl.

However, the eggheads over at Pro Football Focus disagree. They view the Broncos as the NFL’s 14th-most talented roster, which would make them a bottom-of-the-barrel playoff team — from a talent perspective.

PFF’s Ben Linsey, who authored the rankings, lists the linebacker position as the top concern after the Broncos failed to adequately address the void this offseason.

“That leaves Josey Jewell and either Jonas Griffith or Alex Singleton as the projected starting tandem with little in the way of depth behind them, particularly with Baron Browning expecting to transition to an on-ball outside linebacker role,” Linsey wrote. “Teams could look to exploit Singleton in coverage over the middle of the field after he earned just a 39.3 coverage grade with the Eagles in 2021.”

The Singleton point is a valid one, but with the much more athletic Griffith seemingly leading that competition, that concern should be eased some. Nonetheless, the position group remains shallow and questionable.

Linsey also highlights the edge-rushing group as a potential area of concern, despite the amount of talent in the room. There’s just a lot of uncertainty, whether that be with the health of Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory, or the NFL baptism Nik Bonitto will soon face, and how he’ll perform.

“Offseason additions such as Randy Gregory and Nik Bonitto should provide a spark to the Broncos’ pass rush, but they would like to also see more out of a healthy Chubb this season,” Linsey wrote.

It’s not all doom and gloom for the Broncos though. Linsey views Denver’s secondary as one of the very best in all of football.

“It’s not quite the ‘No Fly Zone,’ but Denver has put together a nice collection of talent in its secondary,” Linsey wrote. “Pat Surtain II looked like a veteran in his first season out of Alabama last year, as he gave up virtually nothing downfield in 2021 with just one reception allowed into his coverage on 14 targets of 20 or more yards. He and Justin Simmons head the unit entering 2022, but there aren’t many weak points to attack with veterans Ronald Darby, K’Waun Williams and Kareem Jackson rounding out the starting group.”

Not only that, but it’s reasonable to think the starting secondary group might be even better than the one Linsey outlines here. Caden Sterns is a freak athlete with a high football IQ who performed marvelously last year and is just a couple of years removed from being heralded as a top-10 pick.

Switch out an aging Jackson for Sterns, and move Jackson into the dime-defender role Sterns found himself in last season, and this secondary could be truly special.

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