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Denver Broncos players must be loving Pro Football Focus lately.
On Sunday, we brought you a piece on Chris Harris Jr. being the NFL’s most underrated player. Don’t believe us? The numbers compiled by PFF argue he was the league’s top cornerback in 2014 and the NFL’s fourth-best player overall. And when he was left off the Top 100 Players of 2015 list, the “underrated” label emerged.
Now, another Broncos player has been put in the spotlight by Pro Football Focus, the people who brilliantly break down and grade every, single player. That goes for college and the NFL.
Emmanuel Sanders, who enjoyed the most productive season of his career last year in Denver, was also the most-improved receiver in the NFL for the 2014 season.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 24, 2015
Fantasy stud, indeed. Last season was a breakout year for Sanders, his fifth in the NFL.
While he’s improved in nearly every stat category each season in the league, 2014 saw a monumental leap in production in the Mile High City. Sanders finished with 101 receptions for 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns, easily new career-highs in each category.
In 2013, his final year with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sanders caught 67 balls for 740 yards and six scores. A solid season, but nothing like his first year in Denver, with Peyton Manning. Incredibly, if his 2012 and 2013 seasons are combined (111 receptions, 1,366 yards, 7 TDs), 2014 was still better.
While he’s only played one season in the Broncos’ blue and orange, Emmanuel Sanders is arguably the most valuable player outside of Peyton Manning which John Elway and Co. have signed. Especially right now.
Sanders is an elite receiver, able to play both outside or in the slot. He can stretch the field vertically with speed or quickly slant across the middle for dink and dunks. His hands are so sure, he may just be the Broncos’ punt returner in 2015. And without Demaryius Thomas in camp, he’s assumed the leadership role at receiver.
And even though his numbers may decrease slightly in Gary Kubiak’s more balanced offense, Sanders doesn’t mind.
“It’s a totally different set up, but I tell you what, the more and more I’m in it,” said Sanders. “Because we can get the run game going and just use my vertical speed on cross routes and all these different combinations of routes is based off the play action, then I think the offense will be successful with Peyton Manning at the helm.”
Emmanuel Sanders is a team player, he’s what championship teams are made of and he’s the NFL’s most-improved wide receiver.