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Mile High Morning: Three Broncos predicted by ESPN to be league leaders


The Lead

With just one day until the NFL opens the 2020 season, prediction season is officially in full swing.

On Tuesday, ESPN NFL analysts Matt Bowen, Jeremy Fowler, Dan Graziano, Mina Kimes and Mike Clay took it to a granular level and gave their predictions as to individual statistic leaders, and three Broncos popped up on their list.

Jerry Jeudy's name appeared first, as Bowen picked him to lead all rookies in receptions.

"I'll take Jeudy given his pro-ready route-running traits in an upgraded Denver offense," Bowen wrote. "The Alabama product has the separation ability to work the middle of the field on in-breakers, and the Broncos can scheme some vertical throws here too that cater to Jeudy's play speed."

Clay, a statistician, also projected Jeudy to lead the league's rookies with 57 receptions, just beating out Henry Ruggs III and CeeDee Lamb, whom Clay expects to have 54 and 51 receptions, respectively.

Meanwhile, Clay's projection also predicts that Broncos safeties Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons will tie for the league lead in interceptions with three apiece.

I will note that though the leaderboard could remain in the same order at year's end, the statistical projection for the league-leading interception total is almost assuredly low. No one has ever led the league in interceptions with fewer than six in a season, though the current NFL trend is on a slightly downward trajectory and last year's leaders tied that record low. Why the statistical model projects low totals is not explained, but it may just be because there's typically a lot of variance and averaging that out statistically will naturally flatten the distribution across the league.

Speaking of projections, ESPN's Seth Walder simulated every game this season … and the Broncos ended up at 8-8 despite sweeping the NFC South.

Below the Fold

Pro Football Talk's Week 1 power rankings may not have come out in time to be included in our Power Rankings Roundup, but it's still worth checking out Mike Florio's preseason thoughts, as the Broncos come in at No. 15. "The offense is about to explode, and the defense is closing in on returning to form," he wrote.

Fresh off being named the Broncos' starting center, Lloyd Cushenberry III spoke with the media on Tuesday. As Ryan O'Halloran notes in The Denver Post, Cushenberry's mindset helped him progress to eventually win the job. "My main focus [during camp] was just going out there and being physical and showing I have the mental capacity to make the calls," Cushenberry said. "It wasn't really too much I couldn't handle. Both [mentally and physically], I felt I made big strides every day."

The Unclassifieds

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