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Broncos roster review: Safety Justin Simmons

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Justin Simmons is one of the Denver Broncos’ defensive stars and he’ll play on his franchise tag in 2020.

Los Angeles Chargers v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

If this Denver Bronco defense didn’t have Von Miller, they would be led by Justin Simmons. Safeties don’t get all the cred in today’s NFL fan landscape, but when you want to talk about what separates a good defense from a great defense, I can almost always point to safety play as one of the top reasons a defense is successful in today’s NFL game.

We’ve written a ton about Simmons (and rightly so) here at In case you are new or have missed out, I dug up a couple of gems from the past to give more info on Simmons:

My thoughts on the current contract situation

Joe’s Film Study on why he’s good

#31 Justin Simmons
Age: 26 Height: 6’2” Weight: 202
College: Boston College

The Good

What makes any safety good is his ability to read and react. Great safeties are able to figure out very quickly what possible pass routes are being ran in their areas of responsibility and get themselves in advantageous position in order to break up or disrupt the play. Simmons has displayed that ability his whole career with the exception of the 2018 season where Joseph spent the year using Justin to plug any and every hole he had on defense by changing what position he played from week to week.

But we’re in the Vic Fangio era now and when you have a guy coordinating the defense that understands how the actual game of football works, you get Justin Simmons put in a position to not only achieve, but overachieve.

Simmons is able to read and react because his role in the defense is very clear cut. He has a ton of reps playing free safety for us and that helps give him the edge in figuring out where to go.

Now add to that that Justin Simmons has super athletic ability and you get All Pro level play from your safety. He’s the complete package with speed, length, quickness, and tackling ability (both in pass defense and against the run).

He’s that good...there is absolutely sound reason for him wanting to get paid and for the Denver Broncos using their franchise tag on him.

The Bad

The fact that he’s not locked up long term is the only thing I can honestly think of. Simmons isn’t a guy that has a hole in his game. He can do anything a defensive coach asks of him at a high level. He’s not a problem off the field. He’s a superb leader. If you came here looking for negatives from Mr. No Bull himself, I honestly don’t have any.

Final Word

Justin is going to absolutely start for this defense barring something weird or unforeseen. He’s locked up this year with our franchise tag and the Broncos can easily afford to the same thing next year. Hopefully by then the future of the financial situation will be clearer and John Elway does the right thing and locks up this star player for a long time coming.