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Mile High Morning: ESPN picks Justin Simmons as Broncos' 2021 non-QB team MVP

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The Lead

Safety Justin Simmons earned the nod for Denver, after a performance through 15 games that many feel should have been rewarded with a Pro Bowl selection. Instead, he earned a first-alternate slot at safety for the AFC roster. 

"[Head Coach] Vic Fangio believes Simmons is an All-Pro, not just a Pro Bowler, and the Broncos coach was baffled by Simmons' Pro Bowl snub last week," ESPN's Jeff Legwold wrote.

It's easy to see why Fangio feels that way — Simmons has had an impressive 2021 campaign in Denver. He has recorded five interceptions, tied for first among all NFL safeties this season, and 12 passes defensed, the second-most among all safeties.

"He is second on the team in tackles, leads in interceptions and is tied for the most passes defensed overall," Legwold wrote. 

Simmons has been one of the biggest playmakers for Denver this season, and a key piece of its top-ranked scoring defense.

"Despite trading Von Miller last month, Bradley Chubb missing eight games and the team using eight different inside linebackers due to injury, the Broncos are tied for No. 1 in scoring defense," Legwold wrote. "And Simmons is a big part of that, often working the deep parts of the field while being asked to fill in run support and work in coverage against a variety of players."

Below the Fold

Another week, another Javonte Williams highlight. 

Despite recording his lowest rushing total of the season with only 12 yards vs. the Raiders in Week 16, the rookie running back still broke off an impressive one-yard touchdown to end the second half, rolling nearly untouched into the end zone.

Williams earned his third consecutive week on Pro Football Focus' list of top-graded rookies following his performance vs. Las Vegas, landing at No. 11 with a 77.4 overall PFF grade for the season.

The Week 16 matchup was an outlier statistically for Williams, who has been impressive across the board for Denver this season, contributing to both the run and pass games. He has also been one of the toughest backs to tackle, and he leads the league in forced missed tackles and forced missed tackle rate.

"It was tough sledding on Sunday for the rookie," PFF's Michael Renner wrote."Williams still leads all running backs with 58 broken tackles on the season, though."

The Unclassifieds

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