The Denver Broncos have one of the most complete rosters in the NFL.
Last season, their defense performed at a high level, as they gave up the third-fewest points per game in the NFL. Led by Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon III, their run game was excellent, as well. Williams and Gordon were the second duo in franchise history to rush for 900 yards each in an individual season.
However, one need stood out last season: quarterback. Led by Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock, the Broncos were tied for 25th in the NFL in passing touchdowns (20). Well, the Broncos made a massive upgrade at the position by trading for nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson.
The Broncos should be firmly positioned as contenders. Surprisingly, some experts are skeptical.
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ESPN: Broncos Have 14th-Best Roster in the NFL
On June 29, ESPN’s Ben Linsey published an article ranking all 32 NFL teams.
Linsey’s methods should be noted. He evaluated the rosters based on PFF grades.
“We looked at both the PFF grades from the 2021 season — a number included for every projected starter — and a more comprehensive assessment of each player’s career using both PFF grades and statistics,” Linsey wrote.
The NFL is loaded with legitimate contenders this year, so it is understandable if an analyst chooses to not rank them in the top five. However, placing the Dolphins, Saints, and Eagles over the Broncos seems like a stretch.
The Dolphins had a 7-9 record last season, and they still have major questions at quarterback and on the offensive line. The addition of Wilson did not seem to have any impact on the Broncos’ placement on this list.
Linsey did praise the Broncos’ secondary.
“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.”
During an exclusive interview with Heavy, safety Justin Simmons said the Broncos could have the best secondary in the league.
“Obviously, my expectations are going to be the highest out of anybody. I think we can be the best secondary in the NFL,” Simmons said.
Linsey: LB is Broncos’ “Biggest Weakness”
Linsey cited linebacker as the Broncos’ “biggest weakness”.
“Linebacker was one of the more common connections for the Broncos in the 2022 NFL draft, but they didn’t end up prioritizing the position,” Linsey wrote. “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. 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.”
Inside linebacker is the team’s weakest position. Josey Jewell is a solid starter, but there is uncertainty regarding the other starting spot. As Linsey mentioned, Alex Singleton has struggled in pass coverage. Jonas Griffith, Justin Strnad, and Kana’i Mauga are young players with upside.
Nevertheless, inside linebacker is not a premium position in today’s game. Uncertainty at that spot should not hamper the team’s title aspirations.