ESPN’s Bill Barnwell put together his roster of the 24 most underrated players for the first stretch of the 2021 season, naming vets, rookies, free agents and draft steals who are undervalued at their positions despite producing at a high level.
Barnwell named Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick to the list, a player who has often been overlooked or undervalued throughout his career.
"A player I'm sneaking onto this list just after he signed a three-year extension with the Broncos earlier this month, Patrick has justified keeping a snap rate topping 90% most weeks in the lineup, even after Jerry Jeudy's return," Barnwell wrote.
To more clearly illustrate Patrick's excellence, Barnwell compared him to 49ers wideout Deebo Samuel, who has similar statistics. While Samuel has 120 more yards on the same number of receptions, Patrick has four more touchdowns.
"Samuel is a much higher-profile player, and their numbers are virtually identical," Barnwell wrote.
Patrick has been a key part of the Broncos offense over the past two seasons, and has maintained his role as one of the most reliable and productive WRs on the roster.
"Patrick ranks fourth in receiving DVOA this season and is averaging 9.9 yards per target while playing with Teddy Bridgewater as his quarterback," Barnwell wrote. "He averaged 9.4 yards per target last season while catching passes from Drew Lock, Jeff Driskel [and] Brett Rypien. … Patrick doesn't attract the sort of target share superstar wideouts see, but he's one of the most efficient wideouts in the league."
Below the Fold
Safety Justin Simmons has been both a leader and a playmaker in the Broncos secondary this season.
Simmons has racked up 48 tackles, four interception and nine passes defensed through the first 10 games of the season.
Simmons' nine interceptions and forced incompletions puts his near the top of the league, placing him second among all safeties.
Simmons and the Denver secondary will face their next big test this weekend, as they look to contain an explosive Chargers offense at Empower Field at Mile High on Sunday, kicking off an important stretch of division matchups as the Broncos look to battle their way to the playoffs.