Last year the Denver Broncos took a big step forward in their “rebuild.” They found their potential franchise quarterback in Drew Lock, their definitive number one receiver in Courtland Sutton, and showed just how much a Vic Fangio defense can do. This offseason was to add to their already solid young core. They gave Lock several new toys in the draft by picking Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler with their two first picks and his former college teammate Albert Okwuegbunam in the fourth round. Defensively they added Jurrell Casey and A.J. Bouye via trade and also drafted Michael Ojemudia. For the first time since 2015, Broncos Country has hope and a team that can make a strong push towards the playoffs.
Make sure to check out all of our other team award predictions here.
MVP: Drew Lock
With all of the added toys around him, Lock has very little out of his control in terms of his growth. He’s got all of the tools you need to be successful as just a young player. The work ethic and willingness to learn. Hearing that he’s had meetings and conversations with Peyton Manning to learn how he preps for games and attacks the offseason is something that isn’t taught and is all on him. Hearing he’s leading workouts three times a week (per Jesse Palmer) is the type of leadership a quarterback needs to have. He’s got the toys and ability to take a big step forward and I fully expect him to do so.
Offensive Player: Courtland Sutton
Sutton has had all of the makings of being a number one receiver since he was picked in the second round in 2018. He had an up and down rookie year that led to a huge second year. His growth gave the front office comfort that trading Emmanuel Sanders wouldn’t leave the team devoid of a number one receiver. Sutton is still only getting better and with new receivers that will require a ton of defensive attention. His production should still go up even if he has a smaller target share than a year ago.
Defensive Player: Justin Simmons
Pay this man. Between Simmons and Kareem Jackson, the Broncos have one of the best safety duos in the league. Simmons has become a top-five safety in the league since taking ver for T.J. Ward in 2017, which will go down as the one and probably only good decision Vance Joseph made as head coach. His strong play recognition and tackling ability are his two best attributes. He’s got some impressive ball skills as well that make it hard for quarterbacks to think that throwing it near him is a good idea. Simmons is also my Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee for the second straight year this year with the launch of his new Justin Simmons Foundation.
Offensive Rookie: Jerry Jeudy
As fun as it would be to get creative with this pick, it’s not a tough decision. Jeudy was the best receiver in the draft based on his route running and his ability to separate at every level of the field. Not to mention he plays faster than his 40 time would suggest. He’s got excellent hands and is elusive in the open field too. There are no holes in his game and still has an incredibly high ceiling. There’s an easy argument that he could be receiver 1b behind Sutton and those two are going to help each other a ton together.
Defensive Rookie: Michael Ojemudia
Ojemudia is the only rookie that’s slated to at least potentially be a starter on opening night. He’s a long and strong corner that excels in zone coverage, which is a perfect fit for a Fangio defense. With Bryce Callahan hopefully returning from a broken foot to man the slot corner spot, the second outside corner spot is open for Ojemudia to step in and play opposite of the newly acquired Bouye.
Biggest Surprise: Garett Bolles
This may be a hot take, but I’m not as low on Bolles as everyone else. He’s a near-elite run blocker and a very average pass blocker who’s technique breaks down too often which leads to his holding penalties. The silver lining to all of the penalties is the idea that he’ll take however many it takes to keep his quarterback on his feet. That said, we saw legitimate growth from Bolles when Lock took the reins last year.
More importantly, the additions of Jeudy and Hamler, as two receivers that can get open quickly and easily, will allow Lock to be able to get rid of the ball faster. That will reduce the amount of time all of the lineman, particularly Bolles have to block for. Obviously, he won’t be the left tackle of the future or even next year, but he’s Denver’s best option this year, and I believe he will step up.
Biggest Disappointment: Melvin Gordon
I believe that Gordon is an easy upgrade over Royce Freeman and should excel in his role here. That said, his contract would say he’ll be the lead back and bell cow guy. Trouble is, Phillip Lindsay is still on the roster. I’d argue Lindsay is a better runner of the football than Gordon, which automatically makes him the number one back with Gordon taking a passing down role. That’s all well and good, and I’d be okay with it, but his contract, sitting at about $8 million this year, says not so much.
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