The AP All-Pro teams were officially released on Friday, January 14, and Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons was named a second-team All-Pro.
This is the second time Simmons has been a second-team All-Pro selection; he was previously selected in 2019.
Simmons is now one of only five Broncos with at least two All-Pro selections in the last ten years (Peyton Manning, Von Miller, Demaryius Thomas, and Chris Harris Jr.).
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All-Pro voting recap
Kevin Byard of the Tennessee Titans and Jordan Poyer of the Buffalo Bills were the first-team All-Pro safeties. Byard led the way with 41 votes, while Poyer received 12 votes.
Simmons, Budda Baker of the Arizona Cardinals, and Micah Hyde of the Buffalo Bills were all tied with ten votes each. As a result, all three safeties made the second team.
Only one other Bronco received an All-Pro vote; punter Sam Martin received a single vote.
Overall, five players were unanimous first-team All-Pro selections: Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams, Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor, Pittsburgh Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt, and Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
Justin Simmons had a strong first-team case
Although it is an honor to be selected to the second team, Simmons had a strong case to make the first team.
Simmons had five interceptions this season, which was tied for the league-lead among safeties.
His statistics stacked up pretty well against first-team selection Byard. In coverage, Simmons allowed two touchdowns this season, while Byard allowed five touchdowns.
Simmons also gave up a lower passer rating in coverage than Byard, and he had fewer penalties than Byard.
Inexplicably, Simmons was snubbed from the Pro Bowl this season. Byard, Derwin James, Tyrann Mathieu were the safeties selected to the Pro Bowl. James received five All-Pro votes, and Mathieu received one All-Pro vote.
Former head coach Vic Fangio expressed his disappointment with Simmons not making the Pro Bowl:
“I think he’s one of the best safeties in the league. I think he was snubbed not being selected to the Pro Bowl.”
Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell called Simmons “the catalyst” of the Broncos’ defense:
“I speak for Justin. Justin is the type of guy—he doesn’t want to talk about Pro Bowls. He wants to talk about what he can do to help this team get back to the Super Bowl. All his energy is to that kind of thing. That’s how he works. As far as the deep part of the field—middle safety—his abilities are unmatched, and he has [the] production to verify that. He’s the catalyst of this defense.”
Curiously, Simmons has made the Pro Bowl only once, which was in 2020, and Simmons was not an All-Pro that season.
The organization will have to tackle many tough questions this season, as they search for a new head coach and possibly a new starting quarterback. Luckily, they already have an elite defensive playmaker in Simmons.