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Mile High Morning: ESPN projects Russell Wilson, Justin Simmons, Pat Surtain II to be among NFL's best players in 2022

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The Lead

Three Broncos are expected to be among the league's best 100 players in 2022, according to a panel of ESPN experts.

In the forward-facing ranking, Russell Wilson earned the highest placement of any Broncos player at No. 13 overall. He ranks fifth among all quarterbacks and was higher than Tom Brady, Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford, who have each led their teams to the Super Bowl over the last two seasons.

"Both Wilson and the Broncos see the offseason blockbuster move as a set-up for a long-term affair, and Wilson's arrival puts the Broncos back in the playoff conversation," ESPN's Jeff Legwold wrote. "Denver has built a playbook that should fit Wilson, and he has playmakers at wide receiver and running back, so expectations are plenty high for his first year in Denver."

Justin Simmons was named No. 57 overall, and he is the third-ranked safety in the rankings.

"Simmons is always in the lineup — he's played at least 1,000 snaps in each of the last four seasons having missed three snaps over that span," Legwold wrote. "He has led or tied for the team lead in each of the last four seasons. He's a leader in the locker room and community, is reliable in run defense and a rare player in coverage. He's a cornerstone of the current defense and, in his seventh season, he has had one of his best training camps."

Pat Surtain II was the final Bronco to make the list, earning a ranking of No. 65 overall. He earned the fourth-highest ranking among second-year players, and Legwold noted that Surtain's placement may not be high enough.

"There are plenty of personnel executives who would say this ranking, while Surtain's first appearance on the list, is too low," Legwold wrote. "He has length, speed, flexibility in his hips and rare footwork in coverage. Even in 2021, his rookie season, veteran quarterbacks didn't challenge him often because with all of his physical skills, his best attribute may be his composure in coverage. He lets the Broncos do more things in coverage because defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero knows if needs to move help elsewhere, Surtain can match up with the league's best."

Below the Fold

Broncos Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion China Jude was featured in Sports Illustrated and Empower Onyx's series, Elle-evate: 100 Influential Black Women in Sports.

"I truly believe that when we're working in any industry, DEI should be incorporated in every aspect of a company or organization," Jude told Sports Illustrated’s Nyala Pendergrass. "[This position] combines my love for football and my passion for diversity, equity and inclusion together. It's just a true blessing."

The Unclassifieds

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