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Broncos S Justin Simmons Named Second-Team All-Pro

Justin Simmons' body of work this season was recognized with one of the most coveted accolades in the NFL.

It was a bit surprising to see Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons snubbed in the Pro Bowl voting back in December. Still, as disappointing as it was, something told me that the Associated Press would remedy that come January. 

Sure enough, on Friday, the A.P. released the 2021 All-Pro team and Simmons earned second-team honors. He received the fourth-most votes among safeties, securing him on the second team. 

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This marks the second time in his career Simmons has earned All-Pro honors and it came in exactly the same way. After producing a phenomenal campaign in 2019, he was snubbed from the Pro Bowl but still earned an All-Pro nod. 

2021 marks the third straight year that Simmons has earned league recognition of some sort. Alas, he was the only Bronco to make the All-Pro team. 

The Broncos were snubbed completely in Pro Bowl voting, though Simmons, cornerback Patrick Surtain II, and left tackle Garett Bolles are listed as first alternates in the event a player ahead of them drops out of the game.

Pro Bowls and All-Pros are a big part of how NFL players build their value and maximize their earning potential. On the heels of his four-year, $61 million extension earlier this year, which re-set the market for safeties, Simmons is already well-paid but this All-Pro nod only bolsters his earning power in the years ahead.

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A one-time Pro Bowler (2020), he was drafted by the Broncos in the third round out of Boston College back in 2016. Learning at the feet of the veterans that comprised the vaunted No Fly Zone, Simmons quickly developed into a reliable starter for former head coach Vance Joseph. When Vic Fangio arrived in 2019, it unlocked a whole new level of Simmons' potential, and that's when things finally started to turn for him relative to Pro Bowls and All-Pro nods. 

Simmons led the Broncos with five interceptions this season to go along with 80 tackles (60 solo), 12 passes defensed, 1.5 sacks, and four tackles for a loss. What the Broncos would do without him, I shudder to think. 

Simmons' impact in the community is vast and we in the local chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America voted him as the first recipient of the inaugural Demaryius Thomas Team MVP Award — which was created to recognize annually the player who best exhibits Thomas’ impact on the team, both on and off the field.

The 28-year-old has suffered through the bad times. Here's to hoping the Broncos get the next head-coach hire right and it ushers in a new era of winning football because a maven like Simmons, as good as he is, is yet to be a part of that caliber of team. 

“I think the foundation is there," Simmons said following the team's Week 18 loss to Kansas City. "No one wants to hear that but it is. You have to have that. When you have that and you have the right guys in the building, the right guys leading, the right guys following, from top-down it just works. I really believe that’s what we have going on... I know it hasn’t been easy on the winning perspective of things, but I know this is trending in the right direction and that’s why I keep reiterating that it’s our job as leaders, myself obviously included—we have to find a way to continue to gel and make sure that foundation is there and win the close ones. That’s what’s going to get us over the hump. It’s not always going to look pretty but we have to win the close ones.” 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.

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