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Mile High Morning: Broncos have one of league's most improved secondaries, PFF says


The Lead

There's probably no argument as to which unit was the Broncos' most battered in 2020.

Eight different cornerbacks started at least one game last year, and five corners each logged at least 250 defensive snaps. Of those five, two were rookies. While Denver did have reliable play from safeties Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson, that fragile balance in the secondary was not a recipe for success for the Broncos. Head Coach Vic Fangio and his defense performed admirably given those difficulties, but those conditions were something the team would aim to avoid going forward.

In doing so, the Broncos reshaped their secondary, though they kept the starting safety tandem intact. Denver added talented veteran cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby in free agency and then drafted cornerbacks Pat Surtain II and Kary Vincent Jr. and safeties Caden Sterns and Jamar Johnson.

All of that adds up to make one of the most-improved secondaries, Ben Linsey writes for Pro Football Focus. And while the Broncos placed second on his list, there's not much difference between them and the Browns, who ranked first.

"This is more of a 1A and 1B situation at the top of this list given how much talent Denver has added in the secondary," Linsey wrote.

In discussing the two free-agent signings, Fuller is described as "one of the NFL's most productive cornerbacks in single coverage over the past five seasons," while Darby is "coming off a bounceback season in Washington."

Linsey is also fairly high on Surtain, too: "Surtain has a strong case for being the highest-floor cornerback in this class thanks to his consistent technique, experience at Alabama, good size and strong athletic testing."

All that makes for a deep, talented unit that can withstand injuries or any other obstacles.

"Even if Darby or Callahan miss time due to injury — as they have been liable to do throughout their careers — Denver has enough depth to not miss a beat defensively," Linsey wrote.

Below the Fold

If the path to contention for division titles is built on good drafts, the Broncos may be back in business. writer Dan Parr says Denver had the second-best draft in the AFC West, just a shade behind the Chargers. "Few teams did a better job of identifying and adding value than the Broncos," Parr wrote.

The Unclassifieds

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