Broncos Regular Season Awards

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Defensive Player of the Year: CB Chris Harris Jr. (Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware)

Nov 9, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris (25) reacts after making a defensive stop against the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier in the season I gave this award to Miller and Ware, but no more shall Harris be snubbed from an award he deserves. Besides, the level of play Chris Harris sustained for the whole season is hard to come by.

Harris was graded out as the top corner back in PFF’s system, by a 6.6 margin over Vontae Davis. If you just look at the coverage category of their grades, that margin jumps to 10.7 over Davis. More from PFF: Harris was 10th in the league among corners in percentage of passes allowed into his coverage at 51.7% – to add to this, he was thrown at 89 times, more than any other player in this top 10. He allowed the second least yards among corners who were thrown at at least 60 times behind Corey Graham. He gave up a lot of receptions (47, 66th in the league), but he led the league in yards per catch, meaning the receptions he did give up didn’t go for many yards. He was tied for fifth in pass deflections with 10. He was third in QB passer rating when passes came his way with 47.8. Harris had three picks and gave up no touchdowns.

For whatever reason, Harris is still an underrated corner this year, failing to make the All-Pro First Team and for a lot of the year not even being able to crack the top-10 in Pro Bowl voting. Coming off an ACL injury sustained late in the playoffs last year, Harris’s year was special and if he continues this level of play, he won’t have any trouble being recognized as one of the best in the league.

Honorable Mention: OLB Von Miller (Chris Harris Jr.)

Another player coming off an ACL injury was Von Miller. After a sack-less season opener, Von was able to put together a six-week stretch of at least one sack, collecting a total of nine during that period. On the year, he finished with 14, the second most of his career behind his 2012 total of 18.5.

Miller was able to return to his Pro Bowl self, reeking havoc on NFL quarterbacks. He was able to get a sack in 10 of his games, grabbing multiple in four of those contests. But it wasn’t just against the pass where Miller made his bones; he was solid in the run game too. And with a slew of injuries to the linebacking corps, that was huge.

Miller graded out as PFF’s second best outside linebacker (54.0) in any scheme (4-3 and 3-4), behind rookie Khalil Mack. He was second in the pass rushing category with a 33.6 grade, behind only sack-leader Justin Houston. In the run category he was second, again to Mack, with a grade of 22.0.

Von is really coming into his own as an all around linebacker. By no means should he drop into coverage though. It’s clear what Miller was made to do, and that’s to keep contain on run plays and, most importantly, disrupt the opposing quarterback.