The Denver Broncos have the potential to make some serious noise in 2020 . The Broncos have made several solid additions through trade, free agency, and the draft.
In order to realize for the Broncos to reach their potential, some key veterans must produce a good 2020 campaign. A couple of these veterans will need to bounce back from a less than ideal 2019, while a couple others are trending upwards, indicating that this could be a big year for them.
There are always young players who make the annual 'breakout' lists so mine will exclude any rookie or second-year player. Today's list features five players who will have a big season in 2020 and help shape the success or lack thereof of the Broncos.
There is also one dark horse candidate who will surprise.
Ja’Wuan James | RT
This projection seems rather obvious. For some reason, James has a solid outing every other season and his good play appears to occur on even years. There really is no reason for this to happen, but it does provide a ray of hope that 2020 is going to be a good season for James.
Not only that, but it will also be his second training camp to learn from the best in the business — Broncos' OL Coach Mike Munchak — who can take his game to the next level. Also, James will have a very solid player next to him in Graham Glasgow.
In the seasons James is 'on', he averages three points above his average Performance Value based on analytics. If that holds true, he will have an increase of seven points over last season in which he appeared in less than 100 snaps. That is the largest projected increase on any player on this list so it will be a boon for the Broncos O-line and the protection of Drew Lock.
Von Miller | OLB
By Miller’s own standards, he had a down season last year. He was still a great player, but the Broncos need him to bounce back in a big way if they're going to make the playoffs. He will.
Miller is aging and his performance trend is starting to trend closer to his average each year, but he has never had two seasons in a row that were below his mean Performance Value based on analytics. His mean is much better than most players in the NFL, so for him to be at his average, he is still elite.
If Miller plays above his mean, he will have a value increase of four points. With Bradley Chubb returning from injury and Jurrell Casey being acquired (the most elite interior pass rusher he will have ever played alongside), Miller is set for a big bounce-back season.
Justin Simmons | S
Simmons is not a candidate for a 'bounce-back season. He is on this list because his trend in Performance Value has increased rapidly over his four seasons.
Simmons has increased at an average of three points each season, with last season being his biggest jump. This trend should continue and vault him into truly elite status. Simmons is a key cog in the Vic Fangio defensive machine and the payday coming to him at some point this summer he will more than justify.
Bradley Chubb | OLB
This selection is another obvious one. Chubb was poised for a huge season in 2019, but was lost due to injury after game four. Even if his bounce-back is equal to his performance as a rookie,he will have an increase in Performance Value of six points.
He will also have the benefit of playing with Casey and Miller. Opposing teams will have to pick their poison when it comes to this three-headed pass-rushing monster and it that will aid in Chubb’s big season.
DaeSean Hamilton | WR
This selection might seem counter-intuitive due to the Broncos selecting wide receivers in back-to-back rounds to open the 2020 draft, but Hamilton is trending up based on last season. In the first 12 games, he averaged just two targets per game.
When Lock took the helm at quarterback, Hamilton's targets increased to six per game. He responded with 15 receptions, 179 yards, and a touchdown.
These aren’t earth-shattering numbers, but it does indicate that he has a rapport with Lock and that he is trending upward. He could have that big season in 2020 that many thought he was capable of when he was drafted.
Dark Horse: Isaac Yiadom | CB
It is no secret that Yiadom has had his struggles in his first two seasons in the NFL. However, he is on an upward trend. In 2019, his Performance Value increased three points over his rookie campaign.
He is also going to be entering the age where defensive backs are most likely to have their peak seasons (read the analysis here). Defensive backs typically have their peak season between 25 and 27 and Yiadom is currently 24 years old.
Furthermore, he was also on an upward trend similar to Hamilton in 2019. Yiadom struggled early, but by the last five games, he was getting more playing time and responded with four defended passes in a backup role. To put that into perspective, that was more than Chris Harris, Jr. had in that same time span.
The Broncos’ outlook is bright on the upcoming season. There is so much promise in the young players that GM John Elway has brought onto this team.
The future definitely lies in their hands, but success in 2020 rests on the shoulders of these five veterans having a big season.