Last season, it was defensive lineman Malik Jackson. This year, linebacker Brandon Marshall has been singled out by Pro Football Focus as the Denver Broncos “Secret Superstar”. Each season, the football analytics site predicts each team’s most underrated player ready to breakout into star status.
Sometimes they get it right, other times, they miss. But they base their selection on each guy’s past performance and if 2014 taught us anything, it’s that Marshall deserves the notoriety. When 2013’s leading tackler, Danny Trevathan, was lost for the first month of the 2014 regular season, Marshall stepped in with virtually no starting experience.
Marshall held down the fort in Trevathan’s absence and when No. 59 tried to come back and re-aggravated the injury, eventually landing on injured reserve, Marshall continued to play at a Pro Bowl level. He was the glue that kept the Broncos top-5 defense together.
Marshall finished the season as the team’s leading tackler, with 113 combined tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and an interception. Here’s a snippet of what PFF had to say about him.
On the season, Marshall’s +18.9 overall grade was the fourth-highest at his position, and his +10.1 coverage grade was tied for the best. No other outside linebacker had more passes defensed than Marshall’s five, and to cement the level of his impact, Marshall finished with the third-best Pass Rushing Productivity, the fourth-best Run Stop Percentage, the top mark in Tackling Efficiency, and the fifth-best Cover Snaps per Reception.
What the Broncos have in Marshall might be a three-down linebacker with no real weakness to his game. Next season he’ll move to the strong side inside linebacker position in Philips’ 3-4 defense, which should play more to his strengths in the coverage and run-stopping departments and he could be a force for the Broncos’ defense for years to come.
Marshall recently signed his exclusive rights free agent tender. The Broncos will basically control his rights for the foreseeable future. As PFF observes, he’s likely to be a key cog in the Broncos defensive machine for years to come.