The Denver Broncos have a solid roster with several impact players, but there are only three who truly have the potential to finish 2021 as the team's most valuable player.
Today, I'm going to break down each player in the running, but before the list is revealed, here are some honorable mentions: Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy.
Both receivers are going to be good players for the Broncos this season. Sutton has 50/50 ball prowess and Jeudy’s route running makes even NFL veterans look foolish.
To earn Denver's MVP recognition, each player has his respective hurdles to overcome. Sutton’s is his return from an ACL tear that claimed most of his 2020 campaign, and for Jeudy (both guys, really), playing in a crowded and talented wide receiver room offers pitfalls, too. Having talent around them will keep Sutton and Jeudy from constantly being double-teamed, but it will also limit the opportunities.
Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons is an impact player and could be the team MVP, but the Broncos' secondary is loaded with talent. Simmon's body of work may be lost in the shuffle of the other talented defensive backs.
Simmons is a star and has improved each year in the league, so it is very possible that his season will be just too good to overlook, but it is tough to bet on him being head and shoulders above Patrick Surtain II or Kyle Fuller.
Now to the list of candidates.
Von Miller | OLB
Miller has been the Broncos' best player for the last decade. Although many believe it's time for Denver to move on from him due to his age, he is primed for a huge season.
Last offseason, Miller was in the best shape of his life and motivated. He was ready to make a run at the Defensive Player of the Year honors. Alas, his injury before the start of the season put an end to what was shaping up to be a dominant campaign and to add to that, there are several Hall-of-Fame pass rushers who had some of the best seasons of their respective careers on the wrong side of 30.
There is no reason to think that Miller has lost his determination and drive from the prior offseason, nor is there reason to believe he's not in great shape for this upcoming season. The Broncos have several pass-rushing threats, but the smart money would be on Miller to get the quarterback first.
The other threats, like Bradley Chubb and Dre’Mont Jones, help draw attention away from Miller when a team drops back to pass. The Super Bowl 50 MVP has a few good seasons left in him, but even Miller knows that this season is one of his last chances to be at the top of the NFL heap.
Noah Fant | TE
Fant is poised for a huge season. He's in the opposite position as Sutton and Jeudy because he's the only legitimate tight end threat on the Broncos roster. Fant will get the bulk of the opportunities and this is the year he shows why he was a first-round draft choice in 2019.
Many of the NFL's best tight ends didn’t have big seasons until their second, third, or sometimes fourth season playing the position. Fant is in the right spot to have the best performance of his young career. He led the team in receptions last year and could very well do it again.
If Drew Lock is the starter, he already has a nice rapport with the tight end. If Teddy Bridgewater gets the starting gig, he has shown to favor tight ends. In his second season (Bridgewater’s best in Minnesota), Kyle Rudolph was the second most-targeted on the Vikings.
Javonte Willams | RB
Putting a player on this potential MVP list who has not played a down in the NFL may come as a surprise, but running backs have shown to have an impact in their rookie season and Williams has the skill-set to take the league by storm. His bruising style of running and propensity to break tackles will make him a fan-favorite and will get him on the field early and often.
Williams also has what it takes to be a three-down back. He can make catches out of the backfield and he has shown the ability to pass block. It's hard to imagine him not forcing his way onto the starting rotation for the season opener.
The Broncos have the incumbent starter, Melvin Gordon as the front runner to be the lead back, but frankly, he is not the caliber of player that can’t be ousted for the starting gig. Gordon is a solid running back, but he is not spectacular.
The Broncos front office did not use premium-round draft capital on Williams to let him waste away on the sidelines. The rookie will be an oft-aired highlight on the sports networks and will be a key cog in any success the Broncos have this season.
Who's on your list of players in the running to earn Broncos' MVP honors? Sound off in the comment section below!
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