The Denver Broncos have sent a player to the Pro Bowl every single season since 1980, the longest streak in the NFL. There is a very real possibility the streak could be in jeopardy this year. With Pro Bowl voting officially underway, it’s time to take a look at who may earn such an honor this season. It currently looks as if there are just four members of the Broncos who deserve serious consideration.
Signature stats: 37 catches for 523 receiving yards and four touchdowns. 152 straight targets without a drop. 157.1 passer rating when targeted vs man coverage (1st among WRs) 8th in DYAR (2nd in AFC), 5th in DVOA (1st in AFC). 28 of 37 receptions have moved the sticks.
You know Patrick’s having a good year when a notable segment of Broncos Country seems to believe he is the team’s true WR1. He’s leading the Broncos in touchdown receptions and he played an instrumental role in the upset victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Patrick’s been monstrous as far as the efficiency metrics go this season, but to make his first Pro Bowl, Patrick will probably need some big box score games in the AFC West matchups to come. The good news is with opponents focused on Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy, he’s received at least three targets in every game this season.
Signature stats: 43 catches for 617 receiving yards and two touchdowns this season. 14th in DYAR (4th in AFC), 17th in DVOA (5h in AFC). 28 of 43 receptions have generated a first down.
Through the first seven games of the year, it looked like the fourth year receiver was on pace to push for his second Pro Bowl berth, but he’s been relatively quiet the last three games. He remains the team’s leading receiver and typically draws the opponent’s top corner in coverage, which could help him in the minds of other players and coaches.
Bridgewater with a 21-yard checkdown to Courtland Sutton pic.twitter.com/lLCVzKCvvW— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) November 14, 2021
Signature stats: Only three players have more interceptions than his four this season. He is allowing 44.4% of passes thrown in his direction to be completed with no touchdowns given up. He’s pitched in seven pass breakups.
The best player on the Broncos is quietly having yet another strong season with his individual assignments in coverage, and adds to that the range and physicality to factor into the run defense. To make the Pro Bowl, he’ll need to keep coming down with interceptions to help cover up the fact the Denver defense is having a really down season around him.
Justin Simmons comes up to secure the Broncos stop on 4th down! pic.twitter.com/1IBgHiSVMY— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 31, 2021
Signature stats: Allowing the 3rd lowest completion % among NFL players who have faced 50+ targets in coverage. Among the NFL players to face 50+ targets, he’s allowed the fewest yards per reception. 10 passes breakups (tied for 6th in NFL, 5th in AFC)
The ninth pick of the 2021 draft has quickly established himself as the Broncos best cornerback and almost came down with the second interception of his young career in Denver’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. To make his first Pro Bowl, I suspect he’ll need to keep the clamps on players like Keenan Allen and Tyreek Hill while finding a way to snag a pick or two across the Broncos’ last seven games.
Patrick Surtain II with his first NFL interception pic.twitter.com/9hoWtlGTVr— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 19, 2021
Best of the rest
Due to a litany of injuries and the Von Miller trade, it doesn’t look like any other member of the Broncos has a strong case for the Pro Bowl. With that said, there’s always players who skip out on the trip because of injuries or apathy, and there are two other Broncos who could surprise with an All Star appearance if they surge down the back half of the year.
The fact Derrick Henry’s out until January may open the door for Javonte Williams, and from there it’s a matter of receiving opportunities. If Pookie emerges from the bye week as the bell cow back after Melvin Gordon’s fumble in the Eagles game, seven games and the backfield situations around the AFC could give him a shot. He’s clearly the future of the Broncos’ backfield. The rookie runs angry and combines elite contact balance with the kind of explosiveness to haunt a defender’s dreams. He’s also a well-rounded back who has the trust of his coaches, which means he sees the field on passing downs when Gordon sits.
Perhaps no player better encapsulates fans frustrations with a 5-5 campaign better than their 2019 first round pick. Noah Fant’s currently fifth in the AFC in receiving for tight ends and ranks second on the Broncos in targets despite missing a game because he landed on the Covid 19 list. He may never a standout blocker, but Fant’s a reliable target Teddy Bridgewater trusts. With Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews ahead of him, he could stand to benefit if the Kansas City Chiefs or Baltimore Ravens make it to the Super bowl. If Fant can turn a few receptions into big plays as the months get colder, his resume could catch the eyes of voters.