Do the Denver Broncos have a top five secondary in the NFL?

Arizona Cardinals v Denver Broncos
Arizona Cardinals v Denver Broncos / Justin Edmonds/GettyImages

PFF unveiled their secondary rankings ahead of the 2023 season, and the Denver Broncos came in at 4th in the NFL. Is this a fair ranking for the squad? I was honestly a bit shocked to see the Broncos' unit ranked this high. To me, they have two huge questions in the secondary heading into the 2023 season.

The first question is the starting CB opposite Patrick Surtain II. Damarri Mathis looked encouraging as a rookie, but can he make a year two leap? Right now, Until Mathis proves he is a competent starting CB in the NFL, he'll be picked on early in year two.

The second question is the other safety starter next to Justin Simmons. The Broncos mistakenly re-signed Kareem Jackson this offseason. Jackson was atrocious in coverage last year and largely looked like a liability on the field. Caden Sterns should be viewed as the starting safety for 2023, in my opinion.

Here's what PFF had to say about the Broncos' secondary, which they ranked 4th in the NFL and 3rd in the AFC:

"Surtain was the second-highest-graded cornerback in football last year and looks primed to contend for the top spot in 2023. Simmons hasn’t graded below 73.0 in coverage in four straight seasons, and the Denver secondary as a whole ranked second league-wide in coverage grade (89.9) in 2022."

John Kosko

I do think they mistakenly project Jackson as a starter. At this point, I think Jackson was re-signed to be more of a player/coach type. He's got loads of experience and likely has a ton of leadership and wisdom to pass down to some of the younger players in the secondary like Sterns and rookie draft pick JL Skinner.

In other related news, PFF ranked the Kansas City Chiefs' secondary 7th in the NFL, which seems a bit high. They definitely are a unit that plays better than what their defensive roster says, as their DC, Steve Spagnuolo, is quite effective.

The Los Angeles Chargers got an average ranking from PFF, coming in at 14th in the NFL. They did lose JC Jackson to an injury in 2022, and Derwin James cannot stay on the field. This unit would rank much higher if they were able to stay healthy.

The Las Vegas Raiders, according to PFF, field the third-worst secondary in the NFL, as they got a 30th ranking, which is absolutely hilarious. Between the roster on paper and their play on the field, the Denver Broncos most definitely have the best secondary in the AFC West, and surely have one of the best secondaries in football.

Was 4th too high of a ranking, though?

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