As I mentioned last week, I’m an avid Madden player. I tend to spend 10 of my first 11 picks every fantasy draft on defense, knowing full well that I’ll be able to “coach” up a young offense so that it over-performs. Most years I go heavy after corners and pass rushers, filling in the rest of the back 7 with as much speed as I can find.
One thing this, and consistently following the draft, has led to is a rooting interest in a lot of players spread out across the entire league. So what follows is a team of some of my favorite NFL players who would look dapper in orange and blue.
Remember, the idea behind each choice is that they’re added to Denver’s 2019 roster. This mattered a good bit, as I built this team to fit the Vic Fangio defense. To avoid saying “the 2018 Bears,” I limited myself to one Chicago player, but yes, Khalil Mack, Eddie Goldman, Akiem Hicks, Danny Trevathan, and Roquan Smith would fit beautifully with this Broncos team.
Edge Dee Ford - San Francisco 49ers
With both Bradley Chubb and Von Miller on the current roster, grabbing edge rushers is a bit superfluous. However, since I’m not concerned with contracts, Ford makes a ton of sense. According to PFF, he was the most dangerous third down pass rusher in the league last year (strangely enough, the same site does not rank him in their top 50). According to Sports Info Solutions, he finished third in total pass pressures in 2018. Let me just say I’m so, so glad the Kansas City Chiefs dumped him for Frank Clark.
Pass Rush of the Day: Speed Chop Spin by Dee Ford #DLIsBringingTheEnergy pic.twitter.com/IwNOkfGfVs— Willie Cashmore (@WillieCashmore) June 16, 2019
DL Aaron Donald - Los Angeles Rams
If you look beyond positions, he’s the best player in football. ‘Nuff said.
My 10 favorite Aaron Donald pass-rush clips from 2018 pic.twitter.com/2gYdibIoGI— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) June 26, 2019
NT Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison - Detroit Lions
Nose tackle is probably the one position up front that could most benefit from a star addition. Word out of Minicamp was that Shelby Harris was running as the Broncos’ nose, and while he was an elite defender last year, I believe his best fit in the Vic Fangio defense is as an interior pass rusher in the nickel personnel. Harris would add beef to the base D at 6’3”, 353 lbs, and he’s been a monster for years.
Since DT Damon "Snacks" Harrison joined the #Lions in week 8 of 2018, DET held 5 opponents to under 65 rushing yards -- no #NFL defense had more games of <65 rush yds allowed in that span.— Logan Lamorandier (@LLamorandier) June 25, 2019
The Lions best rush defense game was 89 yds allowed before he arrived.@snacks #OnePride pic.twitter.com/KjRyNyvA7k
DL J.J. Watt - Houston Texans
During his apex, J.J. Watt was one of those rare defensive players who had a legitimate argument for Most Valuable Player in the league. While sacks have only been officially recognized since 1982, it remains notable that Watt is the only player in NFL history to notch two different 20+ sack campaigns. Remember, he plays in a 3-4 defense where ends don’t typically boast that kind of production. After two seasons lost to injuries, he came back dominant once more last year. According to Sports Info Solutions, the 29-year old Watt finished 2018 with 41.5 pressures.
Watt is a preference thing as much as any, but with how loaded the defensive line positions are in the league at the moment, I’d take 1) Fletcher Cox, 2) Cameron Jordan, 3) Chris Jones, or 4) Calais Campbell as well.
Hey @wojespn what does the market look like for a guy who can contribute 6 hard fouls and 4 missed free throws per game? Asking for a friend.— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) July 1, 2019
Edge Matthew Judon - Baltimore Ravens
Haven’t heard of Judon? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. He’s the little-know, edge rusher who’s going to step into the void left by Za’darius Smith’s departure to the Packers. He finished 2018 with almost 30 individual pass pressures and would look dang good complimenting Denver’s star duo.
Most sacks amongst players drafted in 2016:— Field Yates (@FieldYates) June 10, 2019
1. Yannick Ngakoue: 29.5
2. Joey Bosa: 28.5
3. Chris Jones: 24.0
4. DeForest Buckner: 21.0
5. Matt Judon: 19.0 https://t.co/fzNmT1lw3I
Linebacker Devin Bush - Pittsburgh Steelers
Linebacker Devin White - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This one may be a bit of a stretch if you’ve watched Luke Kuechly and Bobby Wagner rip up the league for the past few years, but it’s my list, I’ll say what I want to. I had the Devin’s as my 2A & B Broncos prospects in the 2019 Draft. As much as I loved the move down to collect picks and wind up with Noah Fant, it’ll be interesting to see if Bush can transform a Steelers D that badly needs speed at the second level.
The 2018-19 Male Athlete of the Year is … Devin Bush of @UMichFootball !!— Michigan Athletics (@UMichAthletics) June 20, 2019
▪️ Consensus All-American
▪️ Big Ten Woodson-Nagurski Defensive POY
▪️ Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year
▪️ AP Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year#GoBlue 〽️ pic.twitter.com/keYdzVo6w6
Slot Corner Desmond King - Los Angeles Chargers
If there’s one position in the secondary the 2019 Broncos that doesn’t need help, it’s nickel corner. Chris Harris and Bryce Callahan should have those duties covered. Still, gun to my head, I’d take King.
Cornerback Jalen Ramsey - Jacksonville Jaguars
If you knew nothing about football, I’d explain the Jacksonville Jaguars like this: they overpaid backup QB Nick Foles and may not be able to keep Ramsey, the best NFL cover man under the age of 25.
Almost as ridiculous as this:
.@PFF ranks Jalen Ramsey as the... fourth best defensive back on the #Jaguars?— Big Cat Country (@BigCatCountry) June 29, 2019
Cornerback Marlon Humphrey - Baltimore Ravens
If you expected Stephen Gilmore or Patrick Peterson here, sorry to disappoint. I’ll admit if I’d made this list last year, both would be heavily considered, as they’re clean fits into the Joseph/Wade defense Denver’s run in recent years. However, with Vic Fangio’s system, opportunistic corners who tackle are better fits. According to USA Today’s Doug Farrar, Humphrey allowed fewer than half the passes thrown to him to be completed in his two NFL seasons, and his opponent passer rating of 65.0 in combined seasons is among the NFL’s best. Combine that with his easy adjustment to arguably the most complicated coverage scheme in the league and he’d be a great younger addition to the new Fly Zone.
Also, I could care less if he wears 44.
He’s wearing that number that you give slow safeties who convert to linebacker https://t.co/mmng6SO4wl— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) June 28, 2019
Safety Eddie Jackson - Chicago Bears
Safety Adrian Amos - Green Bay Packers
This may be cheating, as Amos played for Fangio when both were Bears. In the end, I couldn’t ignore how insane this duo looked last season, and Amos was my number one free agent target back in March.
S/o to the Bears for letting Adrian Amos walk— IKE Packers (@IKE_Packers) June 22, 2019
90-yard INT return for a TD
Thanks Chicago pic.twitter.com/gznocUJnpY
Your Broncos Links
2019 Denver Broncos roster review: Safety Justin Simmons - Mile High Report
No Broncos’ defender will benefit more from the switch to Fangio’s Defense than safety Justin Simmons.
2019 Denver Broncos roster review: Offensive guard Ron Leary - Mile High Report
The Denver Broncos have a solid right guard in Ron Leary, but can he stay healthy for a full season?
2019 Denver Broncos roster review: Kicker Brandon McManus - Mile High Report
The Denver Broncos don’t have to worry about field goal kicking. Unlike a couple of other teams out there.
Andy Janovich will likely see bigger role in Rich Scangarello’s offense - Mile High Report
That could mean the legend of Andy Janovich will grow even larger for the Broncos in the 2019 season.
Denver Broncos Roster Review 2019: Fullback Andy Janovich - Mile High Report
Every year since the fullback joined the Broncos it seems the team has promised to bring back the relevance of the position. This season it might actually happen.
Yet, Vance Joseph was trying to reign in his snap anticipation. ♂️ https://t.co/SymiqCBD33— Jeffrey Essary (@JeffreyEssary) June 28, 2019
Von Miller highlights: Top 5 pass rush plays - Mile High Report
Von Miller shows off some incredible athleticism in these top pass rush plays of 2018 for the Denver Broncos.
IMO, Manning was the NFL’s best QB in 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2012 and 2013.— Ryan Michael (@theryanmichael) June 29, 2019
Strong arguments for 1999, 2008 and 2009 too. https://t.co/gkDL7UQfCP
How do you view the Denver Broncos’ contention window? - Mile High Report
The four options:
-Closed and staying closed
-Open, but closing
-Closed, but re-opening
-Open and staying open
Denver Broncos | Top 100
The Broncos Top 100 Team, which features 47 offensive players, 46 defensive players and seven special-teams players
Courtland Sutton among young receivers set to break out in 2019 - NFL.com
Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos Sutton put together a strong rookie campaign for the Case Keenum-led Broncos. His steady production continued even after Demaryius Thomas (traded to Houston) and Emmanuel Sanders (injury) exited the picture in 2018. Sutton finished the season with 42 receptions for 704 yards (16.8 yards per catch) and four touchdowns. Now, Keenum’s out and Joe Flacco’s in. This is a definite upgrade, and I expect the move to pay off. His production should increase, especially in the red zone, now that he has a traditional pocket passer and former Super Bowl MVP tossing him the rock.
Yea I do lol I lined up on both https://t.co/VV7FKohxO9— Chris Harris (@ChrisHarrisJr) June 30, 2019
Cowboys, Saints among NFL teams in a closing window of opportunity | SI.com
The Chargers deserve credit for not spending ridiculous amounts of money to accentuate their roster, especially given the price tag at their biggest positions of need. That being said, Philip Rivers turns 38 in the last month of the season. Joey Bosa slides into his fifth-year option season in 2020, surely en route to a market-resetting deal. The cornerstones on their offensive line are turning 30 and 31 respectively this football season, Melvin Gordon’s contract expires after this season and Melvin Ingram, now 30, has one more year of significant dead cap space before his future will potentially be evaluated. On paper, one of the best defenses in football is quickly nearing a breakup.
#Chargers S Derwin James — Zone coverage. Read the QB & drive on the ball. Watch the finish here... @NFLMatchup pic.twitter.com/4ST6OD9FDq— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) June 30, 2019
The Case for the Zero Blitz | Football Outsiders
Hopefully this analysis shines a light on just how effective blitzing—the Zero Blitz in particular—can be at disrupting an opponent’s passing game. Unsurprisingly, creating pressure on the quarterback is a major factor in this, and the Zero Blitz has shown to be the best at doing so, since it allows for an extra pass rusher. The fascinating aspect is that this aggressive blitz isn’t as risky as it is assumed to be, allowing a similar big-play percentage as its more conservative counterparts. If defenses want to start dictating play to the offense, the evidence points to further utilization of the Zero Blitz.
Ravens, Saints among teams that might not return to playoffs | SI.com
By my count, 70 percent of players in NFL camps right now have three years or fewer of experience (ie: rookie contract players.)— the heavyweight champ is mexican (@JuMosq) June 30, 2019
Year 1-4: 70 percent
Year 5-8: 22 percent
Year 9-12: 6 percent
Crazy how young the league is. QB/specialists/OL/TE stick around much longer than avg.
Best NFL throwback uniforms that should come back | SI.com
They just don’t make ‘em like they used to. Here are the best NFL retro uniforms our staff would like to see on Sundays.
Shaq Lawson to pay for 11-year-old shooting victim’s funeral | SI.com
Lawson says he will pay for the funeral of an 11-year-old South Carolina girl who died after someone fired over 35 shots at her home.
Jay Glazer’s MVP: Where former soldiers and NFL players heal | SI.com
How Jay Glazer’s MVP program helps ex-soldiers and NFL players alike reconnect with mainstream life. Plus, notes from around the league.
When the run has been established pic.twitter.com/slfTURpzyt— Steven Ruiz (@theStevenRuiz) June 28, 2019
Jaire Alexander among defensive backs ready to break out in ‘19 - NFL.com
Will Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander reach new heights in the fall? Gil Brandt identifies nine young defensive backs ready to break out in the 2019 NFL season.
Robert Griffin: Ravens’ offense to ‘shock some people’ - NFL.com
”I’ve got to make sure I understand the offense, forward and backward,” Griffin said, via the team’s official site. “The offense will look different. I think we’ll shock some people with what we’re going to do. If we need to run it 60 times, we can do it. But if we need to throw it 30 to 40 times, we can also do it. I think that’s what we’re working on, to make sure we have those capabilities.”
Just spitballing here, but spinning your safety away from the fastest guy in the NFL and leaving your rookie conerback iso'd on him seems like a Bad Idea. pic.twitter.com/6dnWsjZa2D— Doug Farrar (@NFL_DougFarrar) June 28, 2019
Cobb: Packers an ‘ex-girlfriend that broke up with you’ - NFL.com
”It’s like the ex-girlfriend that broke up with you,” Cobb said. “When you see her five years later, you hope you’re in a better situation than you were before -- married, with kids, and you’re able to say, ‘Yeah, I did better without you.’”
MIA Guest: The NFL in a Small Town – ProFootballTalk
A fun look at the NFL in Richfield, Idaho, from the view of Hugh Royal and set at the Little Wood Saloon with an eclectic cast of characters
Influence trap out of the gun with fly motion >>— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) June 30, 2019
Motion gets LBs to flow outside.
Drew up and ran the same play when I coached HS pic.twitter.com/j4q51dukNg
Eight 2020 seniors get first-round grades from NFS – ProFootballTalk
The eyes are immediately drawn to quarterback Justin Herbert of Oregon, the only passer among that group. The other seven include Washington offensive tackle Trey Adams, Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown, Alabama defensive lineman Raekwon Davis, LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton, South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, Notre Dame defensive end Julian Okwara, and Vanderbilt tight end Jared Pinkney.
I love Jerry Jeudy’s game and I think he’s plenty fast, but I think many are overestimating his speed. He’s not a 4.3’s guy. Not close.— Justen Gammel (@gamscout) June 28, 2019
Six Super Bowl wins, five White House visits for the Patriots – ProFootballTalk
Mike Reiss of ESPN.com points out that June has come and gone with no apparent plan for the Patriots to stop by 1600 Pennsylvania for a photo op, and maybe a hamberder or two.
Report: Washington State’s Jalen Thompson enters supplemental draft – ProFootballTalk
Another player has entered the 2019 NFL supplemental draft, and he’s a talented safety who has a good chance of being selected. Jalen Thompson just learned yesterday that he has lost his NCAA eligibility and will be in the supplemental draft, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Wow — rough blow for Leach— Thor Nystrom (@thorku) June 29, 2019
Thompson was going to be in the top-10 of my 2020 NFL Draft safety column coming next month.
I’ll have a full report on Thompson in advance of the supplemental draft. He’s gonna get drafted if background/health check out. https://t.co/4GvisZQJ8L
PFT 2019 storyline No. 25: How long will Cam Newton stick with his new throwing motion? – ProFootballTalk
The Panthers’ promising 2018 season imploded, with the most noticeable sign being a Thursday night thrashing in Pittsburgh (which sparked a campaign-killing string of losses) and the more subtle evidence coming from the chronic inability of quarterback Cam Newton to throw the ball down the field...
PFT 2019 story line No. 24: Will the Cowboys finally take the training wheels off their offense? – ProFootballTalk
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has survived in Dallas for more than eight years despite an offense that relies far less on creativity and innovation than it does on physicality and skill of its players.
How defensive players on the sideline be listening in to the offenses adjustments when they are not being productive at all— Will Blackmon (@WillBlackmon) June 29, 2019
Building The Summer Big Board 2.0 - June Winners | The Draft Network
The last time I provided an update on the construction of my 2020 NFL Draft summer big board, I had only watched a handful of teams.
free josh gordon https://t.co/M2g3isnTZn— charles mcdonald (#1 uzi's extendo verse fan) (@FourVerts) June 28, 2019