DE/DT Malik Jackson
Jackson has been inconsistent early on this season. He's never had a problem rushing the passer. Where he's needed a little refinement has been in his run defense. Against the Jets, however, he shined in both areas.
Jackson earned a +2.1 overall grade via ProFootballFocus.com. The most telling metric was in his grade for run defense, where he earned a +1.4. Jackson is steadily developing into a well rounded player and the Broncos are trying to find creative ways to get him on the field.
Williams has struggled this season, which has been quite disappointing to the members of Broncos Country, especially with how well he performed down the stretch and into the playoffs last season. He has looked lost, frankly. Opposing offensive linemen have had no trouble moving him out of running lanes.
Against the Jets, the 2nd-year defensive tackle earned an overall grade of -0.4 via PFF, marking the 4th game, out of 5, that he's graded out in the negative. He's not making a difference at the point of attack and with rotational backup, Marvin Austin, on the opposite trajectory, trending up, Williams better turn the ship around fast, or else surrender his starting position to his fellow Tarheel.
LB Corey Nelson
Surprisingly, when Danny Trevathan went down with his knee injury on Sunday, Nelson saw a dramatically increased snap count, mostly playing next to Brandon Marshall. As a 2014 7th round pick out of Oklahoma, Nelson is a fierce tackling machine, with the speed to beat blockers to the hole.
For his efforts vs the Jets, he earned a +2.1 overall grade via PFF, an impressive mark for a rookie. It's very telling that the Nelson played 57% of the defensive snaps on Sunday. It looks like the Broncos may have found another late round gem.
MLB Nate Irving
As Nelson's snaps increased, Irving's decreased, as he only saw 16 snaps in week 6. I wouldn't read too much into this development, however, as overall, Irving has played very well thus far.
Yesterday, Irving earned a -1.2 overall grade via PFF, notching only 4 combined tackles. Irving has excelled as a two-down run thumper, but has struggled in coverage. With Nelson playing well, Irving will look to right the ship vs the run-heavy San Francisco 49ers.
Although he didn't earn a high grade via PFF, like those in the "Up" column above, Hillman did produce vs the Jets. On 24 carries, Hillman notch an even 100 yards rushing, a career first.
He did fumble though, much to John Fox's chagrin. Fortunately, it was recovered by the Broncos. Maturity issues and ball security have held Hillman back from truly realizing his NFL potential as a former 3rd round pick. If he hopes to keep the team's RB1 role locked down in Montee Ball's absence, he absolutely has to figure out how to hold onto the rock.
C Manuel Ramirez (Manny)
Like Nate Irving, this is the 2nd consecutive week that Ramirez has made it into the "Down" column of this series. He is really struggling right now. Between a premature snap that sailed past Petyon Manning, and lackluster blocking, he is reeling.
And it's costing the team. He has failed to execute and seems to be unfocused. It manifested in his PFF grade of -5.9. His struggles are a part in parcel of the entire offensive line's underwhelming performance thus far. And with 2 All-Pros in that unit, Ryan Clady and Louis Vasquez, it's inexcusable, as Peyton Manning recently opined in so many words.
Watch Crazy One-Handed Catch!