It's easy to praise star players who score snazzy touchdowns and sack the top quarterbacks, but there are many guys who fly under the radar despite consistently performing at a high level.
PFF’s Sam Monson aimed to give these players their due credit by selecting a "secret superstar" from each NFL team. They may not make the flashiest plays, but these guys are important to their team's success.
Monson's pick for the Broncos was Josey Jewell, a fifth-year inside linebacker out of Iowa.
"Jewell played just 82 snaps last season before injury struck, but he has been a consistently strong performer for the Broncos since the team drafted him in 2018," Monson wrote. "Jewell may not have the most impressive physical gifts in the league, but he reads the game quickly and is particularly adept at coming downhill and making plays in the run game. He tallied 42 defensive stops in his last full season (2020), and that was also the year in which he earned at least above-average grades in every facet of play PFF measures."
Jewell has appeared in 49 games in his career, totaling 217 tackles (133 solo), 3.5 sacks (21 yds.), eight passes defensed, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and 13 special teams stops.
While Jewell may not get much national attention, the Broncos' front office views him as a key piece of the defense — so much so that they signed him to a two-year extension in March.
"[Josey] was the glue that kept our defense together," General Manager George Paton said in March. "He's so smart and he's so instinctive. He fits in any defense, I believe. When we lost Josey, it really hurt our defense as you can see. The coaches are really high on him, and I'm obviously high on him. The more you're around him, the more you love him. He's a great leader, a great worker, and a really good player. He's definitely going to help us."
Below the Fold
Jewell is not the only underrated player on the Broncos' defense. Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory may be the stars of the outside linebacker unit, but rookie Nik Bonitto talked about the leadership he's seen from some other guys in the group who don't get as much attention.
"A lot of people just talk about [Chubb and Gregory], but people don't realize Malik Reed's a great leader, Jonathon Cooper's got it," Bonitto said after Day 1 of training camp. "All those guys are really just coming in [and] trying to help me. Learning everything from them, learning how to be a pro, has been really big for me."