Good morning, Broncos Country!
Pro Football Focus grades can be controversial unless your team’s player is the one being rewarded, but you can ask quarterbacks and wide receivers across the AFC West if they agree Justin Simmons deserves a high grade, and you won’t get much argument.
At least not a legit one.
Because with four interceptions this season - including against Patrick Mahomes and Philip Rivers - it would be hard to argue otherwise.
And that’s why PFF named Simmons its top-rated safety in the entire league and a member of its “All Pro 2019” team, calling No. 31 a “stellar performer in all areas.”
“Simmons wasn’t in primary coverage for any touchdowns given up in coverage but had four interceptions and 11 pass breakups. He also ranked 11th in terms of defensive stops among all safeties, showing his ability to make plays all over the field.”
Simmons, who becomes a free agent this offseason, is likely to get franchise tagged before a long-term deal is worked out, but the bottom line is clear - the Broncos know what kind of star they have in Simmons and want to keep him.
Coach Vic Fangio said the free safety is at a point where he’s playing at a high level but has even more he can improve just by getting more familiar with the system.
“[Simmons] is a really good football player, a really good person and a really good teammate,” Fangio said. “He’s everything we want in a player.”
But Simmons was not the only Bronco to make an All-Pro PFF team.
Risner on the rise
Rookie guard Dalton Risner was named to PFF’s All Rookie team for 2019. Having played tackle most of his college career at Kansas State, Risner was still among the best rookie offensive linemen this season despite playing a relatively new spot on the line:
“Risner’s college career at Kansas State was exquisite. He played four years of 600 or more snaps, and his lowest overall grade came as a freshman at 87.9. That production was primarily at tackle, though, ...and it remained to be seen how he would play when kicked inside to guard. We haven’t seen the same elite-level play that we saw from him in college, but Risner’s play at guard was solid as a rookie this season. His 63.5 overall grade at left guard ranked 19th among 39 qualifiers at the position.”
Rookie edge rushers make top 50
Finally, rookie edge rushers Dre’Mont Jones and Malik Reed were among PFF’s top 50 rookies through Week 17.
“Jones played limited snaps in 2019 but managed to finish the season with the highest pass-rush grade of any rookie player at his position. Jones’ 12.9 percent pass-rush win rate was over 2.5 percentage points more than any other rookie at his position, and he was the only first-year interior defensive lineman to generate a double-digit pressure rate.”
“Undrafted free agent Malik Reed had a tall order ahead of him once Bradley Chubb went down for the season with a torn ACL. He was given that starting role in Week 5 and impressed early on by being the 17th-highest graded player at his position over his first four starts.”
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