So, I think I've managed to beat Mike Shanahan's draft results into the ground in my first two installments, which you can find here and here. If not, then this post should surely do the trick. First, we looked at Shanny's Drafts year by year, then by player position. Now, let's take a gander at his performance in each round of the draft and see if anything interesting pops up. Really, this should be the least informative and most unsurprising of studies - logic would say that each round is a mixed bag, filled with smashing successes, busts and others in between. Also, you would expect each round to get progressively more of a crap shoot and yield poorer results. Well, at least I would. Yet while that is mostly the case, there is a surprise or two to come...
Broncos Draft Choices by Round, 1995-2008
|Avg Career |
|Career Games |
|Games Per |
|% Played |
|% of Max |
|% of Max
Here's what stands out to me...
- Hmm, the 1st-round results don't look so bad Well, they don't...until you break them down. Yes, the Broncos' first-rounders under Shanny have averaged out to have decent careers, but unfortunately there are a few players dragging up the rest of the group. Of the 908 total games played, 702, or 77% were amassed by Al Wilson ('99), Trevor Pryce ('97), John Mobley ('96), DJ Williams ('04), Ashley Lelie ('02) and Deltha O'Neal ('00). That's half of the 1st-rounders accounting for 3/4 of the games played, and it includes Lelie and O'Neal. Yuck. The guilty parties? Why of course it's Marcus Nash ('98) most notably. George Foster ('03) and Willie Middlebrooks ('01) have actually played 124 games, but I think we'd all agree they didn't bring much to the table in those contests. While Jay Cutler ('06) and Ryan Clady ('08) will help out their fellow 1st-round mates, there seem to have been too many fliers taken. Middlebrooks, O'Neal, Nash, Lelie, Foster and Jarvis Moss ('07) were all iffy choices at best, and that was on Draft Day.
- Marcus Nash, eh? Who?!?!?!?! Okay, most of us are old enough to remember who Marcus Nash is. Keep in mind, I didn't write "remember what Marcus Nash looks like" or "remember what kind of player Marcus Nash was" - I just said that we remember him. For those even younger than myself, Marcus was Denver's 1st-round selection in the 1998 Draft. Yes, this was after the first Super Bowl win and he came as the 30th choice. He was terrible, to be very kind. I can refer back as far as 1964 when it comes to wide receivers drafted in the 1st round of the draft (I believe they were called "ends" before that). I can also throw in tight ends, just to help Marcus out. Okay, so here's what I found...Since 1964, there have been a total of 184 wide receivers and tight ends selected in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. Out of those 184 players, 182 of them have had more NFL catches than Marcus Nash. So, you say, he wasn't the worst? Actually, the one guy who didn't have more catches than Marcus was Clyde Duncan of the St. Louis Cardinals. Duncan was drafted by the Cards in 1984, and he also racked up 4 catches in his illustrious career. So, there you have it. Marcus Nash is tied for the fewest receptions in a career, out of 184 WR's and TE's selected as first-rounders since 1964. WOW. Chew on that one for a second. We all knew Nash was a bust, but this takes things to a much worse level than I previously realized.
- Shanny did ok in the 2nd Round Well, except for the fact that he didn't like many of his 2nd-rounders enough to keep them around. First, the busts. Paul Toviessi ('01), Terry Pierce ('03) and Darius Watts ('04) were glaringly bad choices. Toviessi was always hurt, Watts had an issue with the nerves in one of his hands, and all three were something like 4th-round projections. Darrent Williams ('05) of course doesn't help the numbers, may he rest in peace. The most successful choices have been Kenoy Kennedy ('00), Ian Gold ('00), Clinton Portis ('02), Tony Scheffler ('06) and Eddie Royal ('08). Now onto the talents not retained - we've all been debating the Portis trade, so I think that horse is dead and beaten. But others are Kennedy, Tory James ('96), Eric Brown ('98), Montae Reagor ('99) and Lennie Friedman ('99). Then again, I wouldn't really say that any of those would qualify as The One That Got Away. This is what I'll say about Shanny and his 2nd-rounders - he got some legitimate stars, but while the other guys were decent NFL players, Shanny himself didn't like them enough to keep them around. What does that tell you?
- Wow it gets a lot tougher in the 3rd Round. Shanny's 3rd-rounders did play for Denver at a higher clip than the 2nd-rounders, but those guys not retained include Reggie Hayward ('01) and Brian Griese ('98). I think we're all ok about Griese, but not so much about Hayward. He's been missed. Dan Neil ('97) was probably Shanny's best 3rd-rounder, and although Detron Smith ('96) was a very good special-teamer, he wasn't a good value there. I'm sure Howard Griffith had something to do with that...but still. Straight up busts include Chris Cole ('00), Dorsett Davis ('02), Jeremy LeSueur ('04), Maurice Clarett ('05) and Mark Campbell ('96). Chris Watson and Travis McGriff both arrived in 1999 via the 3rd Round, but none of us would call them great choices. Of course, Watson arrived thanks to his Eastern Illinois connection, while McGriff is too short to see over the steering wheel. Way to go, Shanny! Hopefully Ryan Harris ('07) will continue his rise and make his fellow 3rd-rounders look a little better.
- Thank goodness for Brandon Marshall. Yes, Brandon Marshall ('06) is a beast. Now as we get to the middle rounds, it's harder to call someone a bust, but Jerry Johnson ('00), Bryant McNeal ('03), Ken Brown ('95), Corey Gilliard ('97) and Curtis Alexander ('98) combined to dress for 13 NFL games. Nick Harris ('01), Nick Eason ('03) and Domenik Hixon ('06) have played almost all their NFL games in other uniforms. If not for Marshall, the best 4th-rounders Shanny chose would be Cooper Carlisle ('01), Ben Hamilton ('01) and Elvis Dumervil ('06). Nice returns came via Olandis Gary ('99), Darrius Johnson ('96) and Sam Brandon ('02).
- Did Shanny use darts and a blindfold in Round 5, or what?! Maybe his wife Peggy was making the picks? It's possible he used ping pong balls and a bingo tumbler, I'm not sure. But whatever Shanny was doing in the 5th-round, he should've tried something different. Let's put this into numbers for you - Chris Kuper ('06) has dressed for 33 games as a Bronco. Aside from Kuper, the next most productive choices were David Bowens ('99) with his 16 games, while Patrick Jeffers ('96) and Jeff Shoate ('04) donned blue and orange a whopping 14 times. Bowens is the only 5th-rounder Shanny selected who's dressed for 50 games or more in the NFL, and he's spent most of those games in other uniforms. In fact, Bowens has logged 136 out of the 272 games, or 50% of the production from Shanny's 5th-rounders. YIKES!!!!!
- Maybe Shanny used the 5th-round to go get a nice brunch, left the keys with Peggy, ate some good brain food and came back for the 6th. In fact, I would say that Shanny should have traded all of his 5th-round choices down so he could load up on 6th-rounders. I think Shanny's horrific record in Round 5 and his stellar record in Round 6 is the most bizarre and mind-blowing result of my study. Ok, here goes...the glorious 6th-round produced Terrell Davis ('95), Mike Anderson ('00), Desmond Clark ('99), Jeb Putzier ('02), Chris Myers ('05) and Spencer Larsen ('08). In terms of games per player, Shanny's 6th-rounders have been almost as good as his 4th-rounders, and have dressed for double the number of games as his 5th-rounders in total. Wow.
- The 7th Round wasn't so bad either. Shanny discovered some very good players in the final round, most notably Byron Chamberlain ('95), Billy Miller ('99), Nate Wayne ('98) and Trey Teague ('98). Of course, the problem is that those four players have combined to play 259 games in other uniforms. The 7th-rounders have, just like the 6th-rounders, vastly outperformed Shanny's 5th-rounders in both gross games, games per man, games as Broncos and just about every other stat imaginable.
Well, that's that - my statistical recap of the Broncos' Drafts in the Shanny Years has come to a close. Thanks for reading, and I hope you've learned a few things you didn't already know about Shanny's drafts. Personally, this is what I came away with...Mike Shanahan should have traded most of his middle-round picks for 6th and 7th-round choices, and then used them on tight ends and linebackers. He shouldn't have bothered with wide receivers (except in the cases of Marshall and Royal), kickers or backup quarterbacks, and whatever the heck he decided to do in 2003 and 2004 were the worst decisions of his life. In fact, I will say that I believe the offseasons that followed 2003 and 2004 were largely what led to Shanny's undoing - a combination of bad drafting and the ill-informed choice to let Bertrand Berry and Reggie Hayward walk. Give Shanny a redo of those two winters alone, and I think there's a chance he'd actually be Broncos Head Coach For Life. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen in this lifetime, so the keys have been passed along to Josh McDaniels, Jim and Jeff Goodman. Hopefully they can learn both from Shanny's successes and failures alike.
I had a lot of fun putting it together, and more fun looking at what the numbers mean. Best of all has been reading your comments and having debates back and forth. Thanks a million for your patience and insightful questions, and of course for your encouragement. Maybe someday if I win the lottery, I'll take the time to compare Denver's draft results with other teams. But I don't think that's very likely...