As the insufferable wait for the season continues to limp on, it is time for my awards predictions for the Denver Broncos in the 2020 season. We will be predicting the awards that are handed out on honors night the night before the Super Bowl, but only for Broncos players. Let’s get started.
2020 Denver Broncos MVP: Drew Lock
The Broncos are going into the 2020 season with their biggest question mark at the QB position. In just 5 starts last season Drew Lock led the team to a 4-1 record, with the only loss coming against the eventual Super Bowl champions. As a result, Lock has been given the keys to the franchise by General Manager John Elway. Elway spent three of his five top 100 picks in the draft on the offensive side of the football. The first two picks both being receivers that bring a unique skill set to the Broncos offense.
The Denver Broncos also brought in a brand new offensive coordinator to help develop Lock. Pat Shurmur, former Head Coach of the New York Giants will be a great help to Drew Lock’s development as a passer. Shurmur is bringing in a scheme much more suited to Lock’s strengths than the previous scheme run by Rich Scangarello in 2019. Building on that, Shurmur will run more 11 personnel and shotgun, which lines up with the type of offenses that Lock ran in college. The success or failure of this team in 2020 will ultimately fall on Lock’s shoulders; is he a future perennial Pro-bowl player, or a half season wonder? If Lock can reach his full potential, double-digit wins are not out of the question for the Broncos in 2020.
Offensive Player of the Year: Courtland Sutton
This should come as a surprise to nobody. The best player on the 2019 Broncos offense by a long shot, Courtland Sutton is a bonafide stud. Sutton gained over 1,100 receiver yards in 2019, despite having Joe Flacco and Brandon Allen throwing him the ball for 11 games. Don’t expect anyone else to supersede Sutton’s contributions to the offense in 2020. His number of targets will go down, but his efficiency per target will rise exponentially as he benefits from having other weapons on the field in 2020.
Breaking down Sutton’s contributions in 2019 we see that he was targeted 127 times, catching 72 passes for 1,112 yards. With the new weapons on offense Sutton will likely see closer to 100 targets, but with the attention focused elsewhere, don’t be shocked to see Sutton on some top 10 WR lists after 2020.
Defensive Player of the Year: Justin Simmons
In 2019, Justin Simmons absolutely exploded onto the scene. As a result, he cemented himself as an elite talent at the safety position. Simmons recorded 4 INT’s, along with 15 passes defended, which was the most of any safety in the NFL. Simmons allowed only a 44.1% completion percentage in his coverage in 2019, along with only allowing 3.6 yards per target and one touchdown on the season. In addition to that, having an elite defender like Simmons in the secondary will alleviate some stress on a suspect CB room for the Broncos.
At the moment Simmons would be playing the 2020 season on the franchise tag. Simmons and the Broncos have until July 15th to negotiate a long term contract. John Elway has a long history of waiting till the last possible minute to negotiate deals with home grown talent. He used this tactic when negotiating with Von Miller and Demaryius Thomas.
Simmons is not only an elite talent on the field, but a stand up person in the community. It’s likely that Simmons will likely be playing on a brand new deal as the highest paid safety in the league for the 2020 season based on his high standing in Denver.
Comeback Player of the Year: Bradley Chubb
The fifth overall pick in 2018, Bradley Chubb more than lived up to the hype in his rookie season. He recorded 12 sacks in 2018, breaking the Broncos record for sacks in a rookie season, previously held by Von Miller. Miller and Chubb combined for 26.5 sacks in 2018, the most by a Broncos duo since Miller and Elvis Dumervil recorded 29.5 in 2012. Chubb’s 2019 campaign was much less satisfying and productive.
After the entire defense went the first four games in 2019 without a sack or a turnover, Chubb finally recorded his first sack in week 5 against the Jaguars. Chubb unfortunately tore his ACL in this game, knocking him out for the remainder of the season. Despite a slow start to his 2019 season, Chubb looked good on the film.
For example, Week 1 against the Raiders Chubb had two plays that would have been sacks, had Derek Carr not thrown the ball in less than two seconds. With a top tier pocket pusher like Jurrell Casey forcing quarterbacks back in the pocket, Chubb should have a stellar 2020 season.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Jerry Jeudy
Taken 15th overall in the 2020 draft, Jerry Jeudy enters the league with a genuinely unique skill set. Not often does a receiver enter the draft with the route running ability that Jeudy possesses. Jeudy is fast in a straight line, blazing quick in and out of his breaks and ridiculously elusive. Creating seperation is notoriously the hardest part about transitioning to the NFL for receivers, but Jeudy’s ability to separate will allow him to succeed in the NFL faster than the average rookie receiver.
Based on his draft pedigree, it’s not a stretch to say he could be the best WR on the Broncos in a few years. However, for this season, Sutton’s experience will stand out and create more production for the rising star. Regardless, the duo have a shot to wreak havoc on the NFL in 2020.
It’s more than possible that Jeudy will still have a greater impact on the offense than any other rookie drafted by the Broncos in 2020.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Michael Ojemudia
The Denver Broncos cornerback room in 2020 has a multitude of question marks but a lot of potential. AJ Bouye had a down year in 2019 and could be due for some positive regression. In addition to that, Bryce Callahan missed all of 2019 with a foot injury and has yet to play a single snap for the Broncos. De’Vante Bausby only has about two games of experience under his belt. Unfortunately, Isaac Yiadom and Davontae Harris proved incapable of being quality starters in 2019.
Enter Michael Ojemudia.
Ojemudia fits the profile of a Vic Fangio corner to the tee. He is long, physical, and excels in zone coverage. However, Ojemudia might not see much action in base packages with Bouye, Callahan, and likely Bausby ahead of him on the depth chart. On the other hand, Fangio has said he wants to run more packages with six defensive backs in 2020. Ojemudia could see a large role in those packages and have the opportunity to make an instant impact in limited action.
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