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Mile High Morning: Pro Football Focus' top-graded Broncos at midseason

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The Lead

Midway through the season, the Broncos obviously are in a spot they hoped to avoid.

However, I want highlight the play of five offensive players and five defensive players who have been among the best for the Broncos through the first eight games, as rated by Pro Football Focus (at least 200 snaps played).

Offense

5. TE Noah Fant

Though his overall PFF grade doesn't look great (68.4 overall), it's worth noting that Fant has been battling through an ankle injury in recent weeks and has still been one of the more reliable players for Denver's offense. He's tallied 349 yards and two touchdowns while catching almost 70 percent of the balls thrown his way. PFF also says Broncos QBs have a passer rating of 99.2 when Fant is targeted.

4. G Graham Glasgow

One of the Broncos' biggest free-agent signings from this spring, Glasgow (70.1 overall) has been a key addition on the offensive line. He's allowed just one sack, according to PFF. He's missed the last two games after being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, but Head Coach Vic Fangio said Monday that Glasgow could return soon.

3. WR Tim Patrick

In the wake of a season-ending injury to Courtland Sutton, Patrick (71.6 overall) has become a reliable replacement for an offense needing a big target downfield. Though he missed the Broncos' Week 8 game against the Chargers, Patrick still leads the team in receiving touchdowns.

2. T Demar Dotson

Literally the biggest addition to the team this year, the 6-foot-8 veteran right tackle has been impressive in filling in after Ja'Wuan James opted out of the season and Elijah Wilkinson went on injured reserve. According to PFF, Dotson (74.6 overall) has yet to allow a sack.

1. T Garett Bolles

Bolles (89.6) has been far and away the Broncos' best-graded player on offense by PFF. The analysis site also says Bolles has allowed barely more than one pressure a game (nine total) and zero sacks.

Defense

5. S Kareem Jackson

The Broncos' safety tandem has been one of the finest in the NFL, and while Justin Simmons has provided the roaming coverage that has resulted in interceptions, Jackson (72.0 overall) has been the punishing tackler that every defense needs. His run defense has been a strong point, as he earned an 84.0 grade in that department from PFF.

4. OLB Bradley Chubb

Chubb (74.1 overall) appears to be back to normal after recovering from the ACL injury that ended his 2019 season. His 5.5 sacks are tied for 12th in the NFL, and prior to the game in Atlanta, he had a four-game sack streak going. PFF says he's totaled 28 pressures, which leads the team.

3. S Justin Simmons

The most reliable part of Denver's defense since 2018 has been Simmons (81.1 overall), who has yet to miss a defensive snap since the start of that season. He's doing the same in 2020, and he's on pace to set career highs in interceptions and tackles with three picks and 49 total tackles through eight games.

2. DE Shelby Harris

After injuries to Jurrell Casey and Mike Purcell, Harris (86.9 overall) is the last player standing from the Broncos' original expected starting defensive line, but he's still managed to have a great season. He has racked up 20 pressures, which is second only to Chubb, and he has a pass-rush grade of 82.4.

1. CB Bryce Callahan

After missing his first season with the Broncos because of a foot injury, Callahan (87.3 overall) has been exactly what the team hoped for when they signed him in 2019. Though the Broncos' secondary hasn't been at full strength for most of the season, Callahan appears to have more than held his own amid all the unexpected adjustments; he now leads the Broncos' cornerback corps in interceptions (two), passes defensed (four), and he's recovered a fumble, too.

Below the Fold

The bad injury news just doesn't stop. Head Coach Vic Fangio said that promising rookie TE Albert Okwuegbunam will miss the rest of the season with an ACL injury. As injuries at the position mount, the team re-signed Troy Fumagalli on Monday to the practice squad.

In his day-after review of the Broncos' 34-27 loss to Atlanta, The Denver Post's Ryan O'Halloran breaks down several pros and cons from the game. Among the pros is KJ Hamler's play. "As the season progresses, the Broncos' coaches are getting a better idea for what Hamler does well," O'Halloran writes. "Their consensus — he does a lot well."

The Unclassifieds

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