PFF Top 101: Four Broncos on the list

Denver Broncos CB Bryce Callahan. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos CB Bryce Callahan. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

On February 8th, PFF released their yearly list of the top 101 players in the NFL.  Even though the Broncos had another underwhelming season, they still had four players appear on the list.

Not only that, seeing the four Broncos on the top 101 list makes sense, as these four men had stellar seasons, and deserve their recognition.

Garett Bolles, 19th.

Yep, that Garett Bolles. From Garett Holds to Garett All-Pro Bolles, the left tackle took a gigantic leap in year four, earning himself a massive $68 million contract extension.

If not for Josh Allen, there is an argument to be had that Bolles was easily the most improved player in the league this year. Cementing his status as one of the worst tackles in football, Bolles came into 2020 having his fifth-year option declined.

Not only that, many of us were calling for his benching and eventual replacement. I was very guilty of that, as I was hoping we would take a left tackle in the 2020 draft.

Boy, was I glad to be wrong.

Statistically, Bolles allowed precisely zero sacks all season, committed 10 fewer penalties than 2019, and only allowed 13 pressures in 15 games. Simply put, Bolles was magnificent in 2020, and I think it was largely due to offensive line coach and guru, Mike Munchak.

If Munchak was never hired, there is a chance Bolles is no longer on the team, but, either way, the Broncos have an elite left tackle.

Bryce Callahan, 61st.

Bryce Callahan was really good this year. Callahan, who signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Broncos before the 2019 season, failed to appear in a game last year due to a nagging foot injury.

In 2020, Callahan only appeared in 10 games but made all of them count.  He only allowed a 46.8 passer rating when thrown his way, and never allowed a completion over 19 yards. He also added 42 total tackles and two interceptions.

Callahan has solidified himself as one of the best slot corners in football, filling in admirably for recently departed Chris Harris, Jr.  It remains to be seen if Callahan can put together a full season, free of injury, but his stock is trending upward for 2021.

Kareem Jackson, 87th.

K-Jack continues to ball, even into his 30’s.  In his two years in Denver, Jackson is as reliable a player as they come.  Appearing in all 16 games for the Broncos, Jackson managed 89 total tackles, a career-high, logged one interception, only allowed one touchdown on the season, and allowed a passer rating of 89.1.

Jackson still has another year left on his deal, and I hope he returns for year three in Denver.  Jackson and Justin Simmons make for the best safety duo in the NFL, and it would be nice to see them continue their secondary dominance.

With new general manager George Paton in town, all options are on the table, and if Paton wants to reduce Jackson’s cap hit for 2021, he may offer the longtime defensive back an extension at a smaller price.

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Justin Simmons, 99th.

I think this ranking is offensively low, but that’s beside the point. Simmons yet again has proven to the NFL that he is the best safety in the league, bar none.  Simmons logged a career-high five interceptions and accounted for 96 total tackles.

Simmons is a rangy free safety who can play almost anywhere in the defense. He doesn’t have game-breaking speed, but he has a knack for the ball and always seems to come up clutch when the team needs it most.

Simmons should be the highest-paid safety in the NFL, and the Broncos should pay whatever that figure may be.

The Broncos had four players on PFF’s top 101 player list in 2020, but I think there is an argument to include more.

Tight end Noah Fant, who was top seven in the league this year statistically, should have been on the list. Bradley Chubb, who made his first Pro Bowl, is one of the best young pass rushers in the league and should also be on the list.

Either way, the four Broncos who did appear on the list had great seasons and hopefully, all remain with the team in 2021.