The crew at First and 10 @ 10 today posted an interesting poll on Twitter to discuss on the air, and it seems a worthwhile discussion here:
Which Broncos defenders have the most pressure to have a standout season?
The only choices were Chris Harris Jr., Justin Simmons, Bradley Chubb and Todd Davis.
Before answering the poll to see the winner according to the Twitter audience, let’s consider these four options a little more closely:
Chris Harris Jr.
Obviously he has a lot of pressure in many ways because he’s on a one-year prove-it deal to get the big contract he know he deserves. While he has been proving year after year that he is the best cornerback in the NFL - and PFF has often agreed with him - there is still a lot of onus on Harris Jr. to live up to it again while teams watch to see if he shows any drop-off whatsoever, given that he’ll be knocking on 31 when that next contract deal gets done. Sadly, the likelihood it is in Denver is low, but CHJ will get paid big bucks from someone, so he needs to have a great year to get the best deal he can.
Simmons is entering the final season on his rookie deal, and while the safety showed a ton of promise his first year, he hasn’t quite lived up to expectations for improvement the last two seasons. Scheme and coaching have had a lot to do with that, so this season under Vic Fangio should be more telling of his potential going forward, making this year crucial for him as well as the team.
Simmons does a good job reacting to yet another smoke screen by Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs here. pic.twitter.com/ngXjnyX61b— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) June 24, 2019
By all accounts, Chubb had a spectacular rookie campaign at edge rusher after finding his groove opposite Von Miller. There is certainly pressure to live up to big expectations as he and Miller strive to be the most dominating edge rushing duo in the league, but all the pieces seem to be falling into place for him to do that.
As the top starting linebacker for the Broncos - and a key position in Fangio’s defensive scheme - Davis certainly has a lot of pressure to perform at a high level and propel this defense back to the top.
And since John Elway essentially passed up drafting one of the many standout linebackers, the trust in Davis to hit those performance expectations is high.
Plus, cutting Davis after this season would save a big chunk of cash to the Broncos’ cap ($5 million), so the inside linebacker is really going to have to build on his strong 2018 showing to stick around for another contract.
Can the new coaching staff help build on Todd Davis' career-best 2018? pic.twitter.com/ji2KGZSxcP— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) February 11, 2019
Who else, Broncos Country?
Andrew Mason offered up the entire defensive line as having some pressure to perform given that all starters are ending contract years this season - so being the guy who stays with a good contract, or the guy who gets a good one elsewhere is definitely on the list.
Dare I add Von Miller? The guy is a stud, but he hasn’t had an MVP-like season since the Super Bowl. There are plenty of good reasons to explain that - but the coaching staff has indicated a desire to make sure he plays at an MVP-level all 16 games, so there is some pressure for him to prove he is still the preeminent edge rusher in the league.
But my real answer to the poll was Todd Davis...who is your player that has the most riding on his 2019 season?