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Mile High Morning: Justin Simmons picked as NFL's top safety in 2022 by ESPN panel of executives, coaches and players


The Lead

Ahead of the 2022 NFL season, ESPN has polled a panel of more than 50 executives, coaches, scouts and players to create top-10 rankings of players at each position.

On Saturday, the spotlight turned to the safety position, and Justin Simmons was placed atop the leaderboard.

"Simmons secured the top ranking this time around thanks to another season of consistent production and scheme versatility," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler wrote. "Coaches and execs say Simmons can do it all."

This is the first time Simmons has been No. 1 since ESPN started conducting these surveys in 2020. He was No. 7 that year and No. 2 in 2021.

"He can play deep in coverage, helps with the run and he can cover in man coverage on a tight end or a running back," an AFC scout told ESPN. "He's got the ideal range and size to handle everything."

Fowler notes that over the last three seasons, Simmons has a unique statistic in his favor: His 53.5 total disruptive dropbacks — a figure that includes interceptions, passes defensed and sacks — is the most in the league among safeties.

"If you're judging safety play by who's the most complete and checks the most boxes, he's that guy for me," a defensive coach told ESPN.

Below the Fold

Much has been made of the AFC West's collection of quarterback talent, but what about at wide receiver? CBS Sports’ Jared Dubin writes that the division has the league's best wideouts, too.

"Sure, the AFC West lost Tyreek Hill," Dubin writes. "But it added [Raiders WR Davante] Adams, [Chiefs WRs JuJu] Smith-Schuster, [Marquez] Valdes-Scantling, and [Skyy] Moore, while retaining the [Chargers WRs Keenan] Allen-[Mike] Williams duo, [Raiders WR Hunter] Renfrow, and a Broncos wide receiver trio that is only beginning to scratch the surface of its potential and should reach a new level with Russell Wilson in town."

The Unclassifieds

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