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Mile High Morning: Champ Bailey ranked as 87th-best NFL player by The Athletic

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The Lead

As we near the 2021 season, The Athletic is counting down the 100 best NFL players ever.

Coming in at No. 87 on Thursday is the greatest cornerback in Broncos history, Champ Bailey, who made the Pro Bowl 12 times (eight with Denver) and was selected three times as a first-team All-Pro.

The accolades speak loudly enough, but to get added perspective, The Athletic's Lindsay Jones spoke with former Broncos teammates Jake Plummer, Domonique Foxworth and Nick Ferguson, as well as former head coach Mike Shanahan.

"He's a smart player and a very talented guy who's able to not only cover his guy, but see the play that's coming and make a big-time play," Shanahan told Jones.

And for Bailey's teammates, who played alongside him and can understand just how rare a talent he was at his position, the way he dominated was the most impressive part of his game.

"[T]hey'd throw the ball to Champ's side twice a game," Foxworth told Jones. "Might get a 5-yard gain one time. Incomplete another time. And if they tried again, it might be a pick. That type of consistency is not a fluke. To do that over a course of an entire season is unthinkable."

Bailey is the first longtime Bronco to make the list, but certainly won't be the last so stay tuned.

Below the Fold

While Noah Fant didn't make ESPN's ranking of the top 10 tight ends, he did earn an honorable mention from the panel. "One of the most explosive players on this list. I think we will be having a far different conversation about him a year from now; [he'll be] high on this list," an AFC scout told Jeremy Fowler.

The Unclassifieds

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