It is easy to get excited about the Broncos first and second round picks but history tells us that late round picks have been very good to the Denver Broncos. Here is a look at the Broncos top ten picks selected after the fifth round.
Number 10: Keith Bishop was selected in the 6th round of the 1980 NFL draft with the 157th overall pick. Keith had ten very productive years with the Denver Broncos including 2 All-Pro Seasons with the Broncos. He is most famously remembered for his quote”Now we got em right where we want em” during the 1986 AFC Championship Game. This was at the beginning of “The Drive” when the Broncos were at their own 2 yard line and down 7 in the fourth quarter.
Number 9: Speaking of “The Drive” another key member of that successful win was wide receiver Mark Jackson who swooped down and snagged a John Elway sinking fastball for a touchdown that tied the game with 39 seconds remaining. Mark Jackson was selected in the 6th round of the 1986 NFL draft from Purdue University. Mark Jackson who became one of the famous “Three Amigos” finished his career with 5,551 yards and 30 touchdowns. Not a bad return for the 161st overall pick.
Number 8: Mike Anderson was one of a trio of Denver Broncos running backs to get over 1,000 rushing in a season. The running back out of Utah was selected in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL draft. Today he holds the Denver Broncos record for highest rushing game with 251 yards, has his shoes on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and had the 5th highest rushing season (1,487 yards) in Broncos history.
Number 7: Tom Nalen was the center piece of a Denver Broncos offensive line that produced six different 1,000 yard rushers. Tom was a steal in 7th round with the 218th pick of the 1994 NFL draft. The center from Boston College had a hugely successful NFL career with the Broncos and played in 5 Pro Bowls.
Number 6: Tyrone Braxton is the first 12th round selection to make the list. He was drafted from North Dakota State with the 334th overall pick in the 1987 draft. Tyrone was a two time Super Bowl Champion who finished his career with 36 interceptions and 4 touchdowns. Tyrone also made the Pro Bowl in 1996 and was part of four AFC Championship teams.
Number 5: Steve Foley was drafted in the 8th round of the 1975 NFL Draft. The former college quarterback from Tulane was the 199th overall pick by the Broncos who immediately converted him to Safety. Did that experiment work? Indeed it did, Steve played eleven productive seasons with the Broncos including two Super Bowls, was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1978, and finished his career as the all-time interception leader for Broncos with 44 interceptions.
Number 4: In 1983, the Denver Broncos drafted Karl Mecklenburg in the 12th round with the 310th pick overall. His 79.4 career sacks is the second highest total in Broncos history. He was selected to six Pro Bowls and an important part of Broncos Super Bowl teams of the 80s. The Snow Goose became famous for his “hit heard around the world” when he laid out Marcus Allen on a swing past that still remains one of the most cherished smack-downs in Broncos history.
Number 3: Terrell Davis was selected in the 6th round of the 1995 NFL draft. Let me repeat, Terrell Davis was selected in the 6th round of the 1995 NFL draft. The star from Georgia University became the NFL’s 196th overall pick and went on to become the Denver Broncos career leader in rushing yards with 7,607, career touchdowns with 60, and highest rushing season with 2,008 yards in 1998. Terrell was a three time Pro Bowler, NFL MVP, Super Bowl MVP, two time AP NFL Offensive Player of the year, and key reason the Broncos won back to back Super Bowls. Not too shabby for pick 196.
Number 2: Shannon Sharpe was another huge late round selection for the Denver Broncos. Shannon Sharpe was selected by the Broncos in the 7th round of the 1990 NFL Draft. The 192nd overall pick from Savannah State played 12 seasons with the Broncos and 2 with the Baltimore Ravens. When he retired, he was the NFL’s all time leader in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns for tight ends. He was selected to eight Pro Bowls, a three time Super Bowl champion, and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Shannon was inducted on August 6, 2011.
Number 1: 1994 was a year when every NFL executive fell asleep at the wheel. Including those of the Denver Broncos. Rod Smith who had a great career at Missouri Souther State University, finished his college career with conference records in receiving yards and touchdown yet went un-detected throughout the NFL draft. After being passed over , Rod Smith was signed as an undrafted free agent by the New England Patriots but was later released. Finally the Broncos woke up and signed Rod Smith to a contract. His first NFL catch was a last-minute 43-yard touchdown from John Elway in a 38–31 win against the the Redskins on September 17, 1995. The rest is history! Rod went on to be the Broncos All-time leader in receptions (849) and yardage (11,389). He had eight 1,000 yard seasons, had two season with over 100 receptions, was selected to three Pro Bowls, and finished his career ranked 15th in NFL history in career receptions and 16th in receiving yards.
So there you have it. When reviewing history, the Broncos all time leaders in rushing, receptions, receiving yards, interceptions, touchdowns, rushing yards in a singe game, yardage and receptions for a tight end, all came after the fifth round of the NFL draft. Even more reason to pay attention to the late round selections of the upcoming draft. Time to go to work John and company! Go Broncos
Written by Shadd, Bronco Planet writer