To cap off their season-preview content, Pro Football Focus has ranked all 32 rosters in their entirety. Surprisingly, following four consecutive losing seasons, the Denver Broncos find themselves ranked in the top 10.
The Broncos overall ranking might surprise, but PFF viewing their biggest strength as the secondary won’t.
“Denver might just have the best secondary in the NFL,” PFF analyst Ben Linsey wrote. “Last year, third-round rookie Michael Ojemudia, an injured A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan — who typically plays in the slot — were the team’s top three outside cornerbacks. Denver now has the luxury of deciding which of Kyle Fuller, Ronald Darby or top-10 pick Pat Surtain II will start the season on the bench due to Callahan likely moving back inside. And at safety, Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson rank second and sixth, respectively, in PFF’s wins above replacement metric since the start of the 2019 season.”
The safety room has been the best in football over the past two seasons and the cornerback room — though unproven on the field — looks exemplary on paper. They deserve to be viewed as football’s top defensive backfield until proven otherwise.
Much like the team’s greatest strength, the team’s greatest weakness is also incredibly apparent.
“For as much talk as there has been about bolstering the quarterback position this offseason, Denver didn’t improve in any meaningful way,” Linsey wrote. “Teddy Bridgewater is a slight upgrade over the 2020 version of Drew Lock. He brings a little less volatility. But Bridgewater is still coming off a season in which his 66.0 PFF grade ranked 26th out of 32 qualifying quarterbacks. This is a roster talented enough to contend in the AFC from top to bottom. It’s just hard to see that happening with Lock or Bridgewater at QB.”
The talent all over the rest of Denver’s roster provides the team with a fairly high floor, but ultimately they’ll only go as far as the quarterback will take them, and there isn’t much reason for optimism there.
Lock is hoping to be the exception to the rule of quarterback development over the past decade, while Bridgewater has no upside to speak of whatsoever.
Linsey’s most intriguing observation is what the return of future-Hall-of-Fame edge-rusher, Von Miller, could provide the team with, as long as he’s anywhere near full strength.
“The best edge defender of the past decade, Von Miller, returning to the lineup this season is a significant addition,” Linsey wrote. “Miller put up elite 90-plus PFF grades each year from when he entered the league in 2011 through the 2018 season. 2019 was the first year to break that trend, as Miller recorded an overall grade of “only” 79.3. A lost season in 2020 due to injury now means that Miller is two years removed from his peak. A healthy return to dominance this year would be massive for a defensive front that also features Bradley Chubb, Shelby Harris and Dre’Mont Jones.”
With the all-star lineup Miller has surrounding him, 2021 is setting up perfectly for him to have one last elite season.