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Broncos at the Bye: Who has been the biggest surprise?

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What Bronco has come out of nowhere to surprise you in 2019?

With the Broncos on a bye week and two months to go, it’s a natural time to take stock of where things are. So it only made sense to ask the writers of Mile High Report:

Who has been the biggest surprise so far?

Taylor Kothe: Davontae Harris.
The former fifth-round pick for the Bengals is killing it, and his play is a big reason the Broncos’ depleted cornerback group has continued to be a strength rather than a significant liability. It’s entirely fair to say the Broncos would have lost to the Browns if Harris hadn’t risen to the challenge, and that’s only the latest impressive performance for the young corner.

Kyle Berry: Alexander Johnson.
The Broncos have been reluctant to give him credit, and his size is clearly an advantage in the teeth of Denver’s defense. Josey Jewell’s hype has died down, and AJ’s has picked up right where it left off. Tight ends are no longer tearing a hole in the middle of the field, and it seems we have a new edge with AJ around. He has surprised me, no doubt.

Scotty Payne:
There are a few. Linebacker Alexander Johnson, Davontae Harris, Duke Dawson, Mike Purcell, Malik Reed. Fangio’s ability to develop players and have them become successful in his scheme has been evident.

Joe Mahoney:
I gotta go with Malik Reed as my biggest surprise. He’s filling the hole left by Bradley Chubb’s injury despite being 50 pounds lighter than Chubb and he is NOT a liability in run support like Share Ray was when he tried to play OLB at ~230 lbs.

Laurie Volkmann:
There have been a lot of surprises this season. Kareem Jackson is better than we expected; DeVante Bausby before he got hurt was a fantastic surprise; Alexander Johnson just keeps getting us excited about a legit MIKE linebacker; and Devontae Harris is looking really good out there with the “other” Harris.

But since all those have been named, I’m going to add Dalton Risner. He may not be a huge surprise, but it is nice confirmation that our rookie is looking like a future All-Pro offensive lineman just like we hoped. Also, if not for him, Phillip Lindsay wouldn’t be nearly as successful as he’s been this season.

Ian St. Clair:
As others have noted, there are lot of great choices, and you can’t go wrong. I have to go with Johnson just because of how long the Broncos have looked for a dominant middle linebacker. As Cecil Lammey told Adam Malnati and me on our state of the Broncos podcast, Johnson has been an absolute beast for Denver’s defense and also ends the search for that unicorn ... or “dino” in regards to the Broncos. What makes it more exciting is Johnson has only scratched the surface, especially as he gets more accustomed to the defense and Vic Fangio gets more work with him.

Adam Malnati:
Not to add a pointless take, but I have to agree about Alexander Johnson. Not having a solid ILB for years probably helps shine a spotlight on a guy who has made an immediate impact, but the spotlight is well deserved.

Joe Rowles: Davontae Harris has my vote and it isn’t really close.

To remind you of where things were when he first came into the starting lineup:

Yiadom’s playing time tells quite the tale about the Broncos’ secondary in 2019.

Isaac Yiadom had floundered so badly on the boundary that he got bounced off the defense. Then Bausby got hurt and Yiadom took over only to prove himself still incapable. Harris stepped in because there was literally no alternative. When he came in, I fully expected the secondary to turn into a complete mess right as the run defense was figuring things out.

Instead it’s blossomed into one of the best in the league, and while I’ve noticed some hiccups in his game that he hasn’t paid for just yet, he’s performing. It’s going to be very interesting to see if he can keep this up against the Vikings’ elite duo next week. If there were a game for him to crash back to earth, it will be that one. Fingers crossed he passes the test with flying colors.

Poll

Who has most surprised you this year?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    Alexander Johnson
    (936 votes)
  • 14%
    Davontae Harris
    (200 votes)
  • 3%
    Dalton Risner
    (47 votes)
  • 2%
    Malik Reed
    (29 votes)
  • 4%
    Mike Purcell
    (64 votes)
  • 3%
    Vic Fangio
    (52 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (Comment)
    (12 votes)
1340 votes total Vote Now