In 2020, the Broncos' secondary never quite found its groove.
Denver's starting cornerback tandem started just six games together due to injuries, and ultimately eight different corners logged at least one start. The Broncos made do and still finished 16th in the league in passing yards allowed, but they lacked game-changing ability; Only four teams had fewer interceptions than Denver's 10 last season.
In 2021, however, the Broncos' secondary could be their strongest asset. The team retained its safety tandem with new contracts for Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson, and it signed cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby in free agency. Then, with the ninth-overall pick, they selected perhaps the best defensive player in the draft in Pat Surtain II.
Combined, that gives the Broncos a secondary that Pro Football Focus ranks as the league's best entering the 2021 season.
"No team improved its secondary more than the Broncos this offseason," PFF's Ben Linsey wrote. "Last year, third-round rookie Michael Ojemudia, an injured A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan — who played out of his natural slot position — were the team's top three outside cornerbacks. Denver now has the luxury of deciding which of Kyle Fuller, Ronald Darby or top-10 pick Patrick Surtain II will start the season on the bench due to Callahan likely moving back inside."
While Denver's talented cornerback group is something of a projection at this point, the Broncos' safeties are a proven commodity after two seasons together.
"The Broncos also have a case for fielding the league's best safety tandem," Linsey added. "Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson rank second and sixth, respectively, in PFF's Wins Above Replacement metric since the start of the 2019 season."
Below the Fold
CBS Sports' Pete Prisco has made a ranking of the NFL's top 100 players, and just two Broncos made the cut. Simmons was placed at No. 79, while tackle Garett Bolles came in at No. 74. "After a disappointing start to his career, [Bolles] flourished last season for the Broncos," Prisco wrote. "His impressive play earned him a big contract extension." Three Broncos — Von Miller, Shelby Harris and Bradley Chubb — were listed under the "Just Missed" category.