Draft Rewind – Denver Broncos

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With the NFL Draft in the rearview mirror and training camps a month away, we continue to take a look back at each team’s hits and misses over the past 25 years.

FIVE BEST PICKS

1. Shannon Sharpe, TE, Savannah St. 7th round, #192 overall in 1990.

Sharpe ranks as one of the best late-round picks of all time.

The Hall of Famer won three Super Bowls and trails only Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez in career catches among TEs. In a six-year stretch from 1993 to 1998, he averaged 75 – 950 – 7. As tough as he was after the catch, Sharpe lost only eight fumbles (one per every 102 catches).

2. Terrell Davis, RB, Georgia. 6th round, #196 overall in 1995.

Only Barry Sanders was a better RB than Davis for the four-year period starting with his rookie year in 1995. Serious knee injuries derailed a longer career, but Davis racked up some big numbers those four seasons, averaging nearly 1900 yards from scrimmage and 15 TD per season. He also averaged 5.6 yards a carry over eight career playoff games, scoring 12 TDs and winning a Super Bowl MVP.

3. Tom Nalen, C, Boston College. 7th round, #218 overall in 1994.

Nalen was a big reason Davis ran wild those four years, and paved the way for five other 1,000 yard backs during his tenure for the Broncos. Nalen started every game from 1996 to 2001, was a three-time All-Pro, and won two Super Bowls in Denver with Sharpe and Davis.

4. Elvis Dumervil, DE, Louisville. 4th round, #126 overall in 2006.

Dumervil dominated his senior year in the Big East, leading the country in sacks (20), and forced fumbles (10). Height-enamored scouts were down on his ability at the next level, and he slipped to the fourth round. None of the ten DEs drafted ahead of him have notched more than Dumervil’s 90 sacks, which includes 63.5 in seven seasons in Denver. If it wasn’t for the incompetency of his agent, Dumervil would likely still be a Bronco.

5. Julius Thomas, TE, Portland St. 4th round, #129 overall in 2011.

After two years on the bench partly due to injuries, Thomas exploded on the scene in 2013. A year later he became the first TE to catch at least 12 touchdowns in consecutive seasons; the four TEs drafted ahead of him have combined to score 42 since entering the NFL.

FIVE WORST PICKS

1. Marcus Nash, WR, Tennessee. 1st round, #30 overall in 1998

The Broncos were coming off the first of two consecutive titles and didn’t have any significant holes to fill, although starting CB Ray Crockett was 31. Nash had one good season at Tennessee with Peyton Manning, and the Broncos decided that he was a better prospect than future Pro-Bowl corners Corey Chavous, Patrick Surtain and Samari Rolle. Nash yielded a grand total of four receptions in ten games before Denver cut bait and shipped him to Miami in exchange for fellow ’98 draft bust RB, John Avery.

2. Jarvis Moss, DE, Florida. 1st round, #17 overall in 2007

Moss was your typical “looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane” defensive end. Scouts were enamored with his size (6-7, 250), speed (4.7 40), and playmaking at Florida. Moss couldn’t get on the field his rookie year before getting injured and actually walked out of training camp for several days in 2009. He started two games in parts of five seasons, and was last heard from eating weed during a traffic stop back in Gainesville.

3. Paul Toviessi, DE, Marshall. 2nd round, #51 overall in 2001

This one is more on the Broncos and less on the player. Toviessi had a ton of potential coming out of Marshall, and the Broncos didn’t think a knee injury his sophomore year was significant. So much so that they a traded a 4th round pick to move up and grab Toviessi in the middle of the second round. Fifteen months later, Denver released him. He made it through ten days of training camp before hurting the knee and had three separate surgeries over the course of the next year. Toviessi never took a snap in an NFL game.

4. Maurice Clarett, RB, Ohio St. 3rd round, #101 overall in 2005

His story is well-known: sensational FR season with the Buckeyes capped by a championship; dismissed by the school six months later for continually behaving like a spoiled rotten athlete; moved to L.A. and sued the NCAA while picking up a nasty drinking (and drug) habit; showed up to Broncos camp fat and overweight and was cut within a month; stuck up a few people and led police on a high-speed chase; and went to prison for three years. Many teams had Clarett graded as a late round pick, or off their board entirely. Marion Barber and Darren Sproles were on the board when Clarett was picked.

5. Ashley Lelie, WR, Hawaii. 1st round, #19 overall in 2002

Lelie was a major disappointment, averaging two catches a game over a nondescript seven-year career. He did manage over 1,000 yards and caught 7 TDs his third season, so he did have at least one somewhat productive season. Five picks later at #24 overall, Baltimore selected Ed Reed. Reed is one the three best safeties in the last 25 years.

Stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com

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