Thursday, April 22, 2010

Looking back: Broncos draft selections of the past decade

Draft day has arrived! To give us something to do while we are waiting for the clock to hit 7:30 ET, I've created a review of the Broncos first overall picks over the past decade, enjoy.

2000: With the 15th overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected Deltha O'Neal, CB - California. His rookie season he didn't record any defensive stats, while handling the return duties. His rookie year he totaled over 1,400 returns yards, and scored a Touchdown. In his second season in the NFL, he started in all 16 games on defense, and recorded 9 interceptions. Over the the next two years with the Broncos he hauled in 5 interceptions, while contributing on special teams and even a little on offense. In 2004, an unhappy O'Neal and the Broncos' 24th (first round) and 117th (fourth round) spots in the 2004 NFL draft were traded to the Cincinnati Bengals in exchange for Cincinnati's 17th overall pick in the upcoming draft. In his career O'Neal earned two Pro Bowls, and was the Broncos Premier Corner early in the decade.

2001: With the 24th overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected Willie Middlebrooks, CB - Minnesota. Obviously the Broncos had a concern at cornerback position in the early 2000's. Middlebrooks could be considered a bust, in three seasons with the Broncos he recorded only one interception. The next season he signed with the 49ers, and was out of the league the next season. He now plays for a team in the Canadian Football League. The Broncos 87th pick (Reggie Hayward) and their 113th (Ben Hamilton) turned out to be much better selections by the Broncos in 2001.

2002: With the 19th overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected Ashley Lelie, WR - Hawaii. This pick was controversial, because Denver had needs in the secondary, and Ed Reed was on the board when Denver drafted Lelie. But Lelie proved to be a good deep threat. In his first two seasons he stacked up over 1,000 receiving yards, and scored 4 touchdowns. The next season, 2004, he really came alive. Being Jake Plummer's favorite target in boot legs, caught 54 passes for 1,084 yards (a 20.1 yards-per catch average) and scored 7 touchdowns. With Rod Smith slowing down, Lelie was in position to take the #1 WR spot. The next offseason, Denver traded for Javon Walker, causing Lelie to drop on the depth chart. Denver let him go after he didn't show up for any of the off season program. He'd go on to play for the Falcons, 49ers, and Raiders all in a span of three seasons. There's no doubt Denver's 51st overall pick (Clinton Portis) has had a better career.

2003: With the 20th overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected George Foster, T - Georgia. The Broncos needed some help on the offensive line, and Foster was a solid pick up. He started all 16 games in his second season in the League, only allowing 2 sacks. He went on to start 3 seasons straight for the Broncos, in 2005, while rushing behind Foster, Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell combined, rushed for almost 2,000 yards. In 2007, Foster and Bell were traded to the Lions, were he played for two seasons, and his performance dropped. Foster was a solid part of the Broncos line in Denver's 2005 AFC West Championship team.

2004: With the 17th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected D.J. Williams, OLB - Miami (FL). Williams turned out to be a great pick. He contributed his rookie year, starting in 14 games, recording 114 tackles and 2 sacks. In 2007, he recorded 141 tackles and a sack. Last season he thrived in the Broncos new 3-4 Defense, recording 122 tackles and 3.5 sacks. He has proven to be versatile, starting at all LB positions. Williams has anchored the Broncos defense since he arrived. Without a doubt, he is one of Denver's best draft selections of the decade.

2005: With the 56th overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected Darrent Williams, CB - Oklahoma State. Williams was one of the best young coners I've ever seen. He contributed on special teams as well. In two seasons with Denver, he recorded 6 interceptions, returning two for touchdowns. Had he not been murdered, he would have become the next Shut Down Cornerback in the NFL. He was a great draft selection - RIP.

2006: With the 11th overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected Jay Cutler, QB -Vanderbilt. It was known early that the kid had an arm. Mid-way through the 2006 season, Cutler was named the starter. Over the next three seasons he earned a Pro Bowl selection, passing f0r 45 Touchdowns, and over 8,000 yards. Had he not asked for a trade, he would have become the Broncos next great Quarterback. In 2009, the Broncos traded him to the Bears, where he had a up and down season. He was a good draft pick, and helped the Broncos offense during his short stint with the team.

2007: With the 17th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected Jarvis Moss, DE - Florida. It was hoped he would contribute on Defense, generating the amazing pass rushing ability he showed while in college. His rookie year he recorded a sack, and 2.5 the next. Last year he only played in 7 games, totalling no sacks, or tackles on defense. Moss was a bad draft pick.

2008: With the 12th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected Ryan Clady, T - Boise State. Clady was expected to contribute early - which he did. He started all 16 games as a rookie, and allowed a leauge low only .5 sacks. This past season was not as productive, but Pro Bowl worthy none-the-less. He started in the Pro Bowl after another solid year. Whomever is playing Quarterback while Clady is protecting his blind side is bound to have success. Ryan Clady was an outstanding draft pick.

2009: With the 12th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected Knowshon Moreno, RB - Georgia. Heading into the draft, Moreno was scouted as the "Best 'back in the draft." He started in 9 games for the Broncos last year, rushing for 947 yards, while receiving 213 yards, and scoring 9 total touchdowns. His rookie season was a success, and he'll only get better in his second year. The jury is still out on Moreno, but I believe he'll become a great one.
Today, the Broncos hold the 11th overall pick in the draft. The Broncos have a very strong possibility of trading down, and selecting Maurkice Pouncey, a center out of Florida. If Rolando McClain or Dez Bryant are on the board, they are options too. Another player Denver may targer is Florida's Tim Tebow. With McDaniels though, you never know! We'll have full coverage of the Broncos first pick of the 2010 NFL Draft, so be sure to stop by the blog later today.

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