Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus released their annual top 101 players from the past year earlier today. Topping the list reigning Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady and Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
From 1 to 101, these are PFF's Top 101 players of the 2016 NFL seasonhttps://t.co/KWu7G3Jdxy— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) February 9, 2017
All four of the Broncos named made the top 30 of the list which is pretty impressive. However, they have no one in the 30 to 101 range which is a bit disappointing. Another thing that will likely upset Broncos Country is Oakland Raiders linebacker/edge rusher Khalil Mack in the top 5 and 10 spots ahead of Broncos star pass rusher Von Miller.
So let's take a look at which Broncos made the list.
14th: Linebacker/Edge Rusher Von Miller
The Broncos star pass rusher cracked the top 15 this past season but dropped a few spots from his 2015 ranking where he came in 7th, one spot behind Mack. Now he dropped seven spots while Mack went two spots higher than his 2015 ranking.
Here's what PFF had to say about Miller's ranking.
Any concerns that Von Miller’s play would cool down in 2016 after getting a monster contract from the Broncos following his Super Bowl year were wide of the mark. Miller was once again a beast this year and recorded multiple game-changing performances. He ended the season with 24 combined sacks and hits, with 55 additional hurries also to his name. It’s his run defense, though, that may be the most under-appreciated aspect of his game. Miller led all edge defenders this year with 53 defensive stops, nine more than any other player. He may not be the biggest player in any defensive front, but Miller will impact the run game in exactly the same way as he does the passing game: with quickness and agility.
Best performance: Week 12 vs. Chiefs, 93.0 grade
Key stat: Miller recorded 79 total QB pressures over the season, as well as 53 defensive stops (the most defensive stops among all edge defenders).
Miller was coming off an impressive 2015 season that saw him dominate the postseason and win the Super Bowl MVP for Super Bowl 50. He also signed a mega contract with the Broncos that offseason, so a lot of pressure was on the Broncos star coming into the season and he didn't disappoint.
He finished the season with 78 tackles, 13.5 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. He proved to be once again a force in the pass rush department as well as being a solid run stopper for the Broncos.
18th: Cornerback Aqib Talib
After an offseason incident that left Talib with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his leg, many wanted the Broncos to trade or just simply release Talib. That never happened and Talib answered his critics by having a career year and ranking as the top cornerback in the league this past season according to PFF.
Aqib Talib has always had the potential to be the game’s best cornerback, but in the past, we have only ever seen it in flashes, or for brief stretches before he lapsed and we saw him surrender big plays. 2016 was the first year he put it all together, and went the entire year without surrendering a touchdown. Talib allowed just 53.0 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught, for a passer rating of only 49.5, and for much of the year, quarterbacks were statistically better off just throwing the ball away than they were testing Talib in coverage.
Best performance: Week 4 vs. Buccaneers, 92.6 grade
Key stat: Talib didn’t surrender a catch longer than 26 yards all season.
The ball-hawking cornerback finished the season with 43 tackles, 3 interceptions,1 pick-six, and 12 pass deflections. He also did not allow a catch longer than 26 yards all season for the Broncos. He was dominant and a reason why the Broncos finished in first against the pass.
Talib has some off the field issues but has turned into one of the top cornerbacks in the league during his time with the Broncos.
19th: Cornerback Chris Harris Jr.
Probably one of the most disrespected players in the entire NFL is Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. He is routinely looked over when "experts" talk about the best corners in the league, but PFF continues to notice and praise Harris for his outstanding play on the field.
Pro Football Focus ranked Harris as the 19th best player in the NFL this past season and the second-best cornerback in the league. The only corner ranked higher than Harris is fellow teammate Aqib Talib who came in one spot higher than Harris.
These two elite cornerbacks make up for a big part of the Denver Broncos No Fly Zone.
It’s hard to believe that Chris Harris Jr. was once an undrafted free agent, because he has put together strong seasons every year of his NFL career since, earning himself a starting spot by the end of his rookie campaign and never looking back. Harris allowed an average of only 8.9 yards per reception in 2016, and 126 total yards after the catch, despite being targeted 84 times. Harris has the versatility to play inside and outside within the Broncos’ defensive scheme, and has consistently been one of the game’s best defensive backs, making PFF’s All-Pro team this year in the newly designated "defensive back" position.
Best performance: Week 13 vs. Jaguars, 92.8 grade
Key stat: Harris notched 28 defensive stops on the season, two more than any other cornerback.
The former undrafted cornerback by the Broncos Harris finished the 2016 season with 63 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, and 11 pass deflections. He once again proved doubters wrong and is one of, if not the best cornerbacks in the league.
28th: Center Matt Paradis
The Broncos offensive this past year was a mess. Th quarterback play was below average, they couldn't run the ball, and the offensive line struggled. However, one player stood out amongst the rest and was named the 28th best player in the NFL in 2016, and that player is center Matt Paradis.
Despite playing through a serious hip injury, Paradis started and played all 16 games and every snap for the Broncos this past season. He is turning into one of the toughest players in the league and the Broncos iron man type player.
The development of Matt Paradis is another of the stories of the 2016 season. He had been solid a year ago, but there was no sign of what was to come this year: his emergence as one of the best centers in the game. Paradis was a run-blocking monster for the Broncos, but his pass blocking was far from weak, as he allowed just three sacks or QB hits all season, with 14 additional hurries to his name and only four penalties.
Best performance: Week 1 vs. Panthers, 89.6 grade
Key stat: Paradis recorded seven perfect games of pass protection this season.
After a solid first-year starting in 2015, Paradis had an even better 2016 season and has become one of the better centers in the entire National Football League. He did this all while playing through a serious hip injury as well, so a healthy Paradis could be even better for the Broncos in 2017.