Breaking Down ESPN’s Ranking of Broncos’ Position Groups vs NFL

Getty Denver Broncos Russell Wilson passes the ball to Javonte Williams.

The Denver Broncos have one of the most comprehensive rosters in the NFL.

Last season, his defense performed at a high level, as he allowed the third-fewest points per game in the NFL. Led by Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon III, their ground game was also excellent. Williams and Gordon were the second duo in franchise history to run 900 yards each in an individual season.

However, one need was highlighted last season: the quarterback. Led by Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock, the Broncos were tied for 25th in the NFL in touchdown passes (20). Well, the Broncos made a massive improvement 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 the 14th best roster in the NFL

Breaking Down ESPN's Ranking of Broncos' Position Groups vs. NFL

On June 29, ESPN’s Ben Linsey published an article ranking the 32 NFL teams.

Linsey’s methods should be noted. He evaluated the lists based on PFF ratings.

“We looked at the PFF ratings of the 2021 season, a number included for each projected starter, and a more complete assessment of each player’s career using PFF ratings and statistics,” Linsey wrote.

Linsey ranked the Broncos’ list as the 14th best in the league. Some notable teams ahead of the Broncos were the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, and Philadelphia Eagles.

The NFL is full of legitimate contenders this year, so it’s understandable that an analyst would decide not to rank them in the top five. However, placing the Dolphins, Saints, and Eagles over the Broncos seems like an exaggeration.

The Dolphins had a 7-9 record last season, and still have important questions as a quarterback and on the offensive line. Wilson’s addition didn’t seem to have any impact on the Broncos’ placement on this list.

Linsey praised the Broncos’ high school.

“It’s not exactly the ‘No-Fly Zone,’ but Denver has assembled a good collection of talent in its high school,” Linsey wrote. “Pat Surtain II looked like a veteran in his first season out of Alabama last year, as he allowed virtually nothing on the field in 2021 with only one reception allowed in his coverage on 14 targets of 20 or more yards. He and Justin Simmons lead the unit before 2022, but there aren’t many weak points to tackle with veterans Ronald Darby, K’Waun Williams, and Kareem Jackson completing the initial group.

During an exclusive interview with Heavy, deep Justin Simmons said the Broncos could have the best secondary in the league.

“Obviously, my expectations are going to be the highest of them all. I think we can be the best secondaries in the NFL,” Simmons said.

Linsey: LB is the Broncos’ “biggest weakness”

Linsey cited the linebacker as the Broncos’ “biggest weakness.”

“The linebacker was one of the most 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 Jonas Griffith or Alex Singleton as the initial tandem projected with little depth behind them, particularly with Baron Browning hoping to transition to an outside linebacker role with the ball. Teams could look to exploit Singleton in coverage in the middle of the field after he earned just a 39.3 degree of coverage with the Eagles in 2021.

The internal linebacker is the weakest position on the team. Josey Jewell is a solid starter, but there is uncertainty regarding the other starting position. As Linsey mentioned, Alex Singleton has struggled with pass coverage. Jonas Griffith, Justin Strnad, and Kaua’i Mauga are young players with potential.

However, the inside linebacker is not a privileged position in today’s game. The uncertainty in that location should not hamper the team’s title aspirations.

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