30 Picks in 30 Days -- The 1980 NFL Draft -- DE Rulon Jones

Welcome to '30 Pick in 30 Days' a daily feature the will focus on one Broncos draft pick from each of the last 29 NFL Drafts, culminating with the 30th day, April 25th 2009, at the 2009 NFL Draft.

Sometimes it will be the best pick of that draft, sometimes at random.  As Zappa does with his MHR History posts, part of being a Broncos fan, perhaps the best part, is learning about who this team was, and what it can be again.

Let's head back, to the first NFL Draft ESPN ever broadcast from beginning to end, the 1980 NFL Draft.


The Denver Broncos didn't have a 1st Round pick in the 1980 draft so they waited until Round 2.  With the 42nd Pick in the draft, the Broncos picked DE Rulon Jones from Utah State.

Jones had a stellar career as a Bronco, being named to 2 Pro Bowls and 1st Team All Pro once in 1986.  In that season, when the Broncos went to the Super Bowl, Jones was named AFC Defensive Player of the Year after compiling 13.5 sacks. 

Jones played 9 seasons in the NFL, retiring after the 1989 season.  His 52.5 career sacks in 129 career games rank 4th all-time in Broncos history and his 3 safeties-forced is tops in team history.

A while back, the Broncos had fans ask questions of Jones and his time as a NFL player.  Perhaps my favorite was a question about Jones' reaction to the Broncos selectin him -

I had looked at the Broncos and everybody told me that I would be going in the first round. The Broncos didn't have a first-round pick that year; they had traded it away. The Cleveland Browns had actually commented in the paper that they were going to take me if I was available. It was a crazy draft year that year (1980); I think that there were eight defensive backs taken in the first round and that just kind of pushed everyone back. So they (the Browns) took Charles White, the Heisman Trophy winner out of USC and as soon as I wasn't drafted by them I was looking at where Denver was.

Denver was quite a ways down in the second round, but what I didn't know was they had traded up and had a very high second-round pick. That is a tough time; I don't think people realize how tough that is -- especially back then. You pretty much knew the team that took you was who you were going to be with most of your career and you have no idea what is going on. But it was unbelievable when Denver drafted me. I am a guy who loves the West, loves the mountains and amazingly to go to a team like the Broncos was a dream come true.

When asked what veterans on the team helped him as a rookie, Jones mentioned two Broncos legends -

You know I came into a really high tradition system. Joe Collier and the "Orange Crush" defense was well-respected. As far as players, I came in with Rubin Carter, Barney Chavous and guys that were true veterans. They knew the game really well, they knew the "53" defense that we were playing really well. Then I had (defensive line coach) Stan Jones; I think one thing that I really lucked out on was coaching throughout my career. I had an amazing college defensive line coach, Rod Marinelli -- who is now the head coach of the Detroit Lions -- and then Stan Jones. I heard nightmares from some of the other guys when i went to the Pro Bowl. Some of the assistant coaches were not the caliber and the personality that Stan Jones was. Not only the ball players, like Barney and Rubin but the coaches. And as much as anything Randy Gradishar as well, he was a linebacker and he taught me some amazing things. I remember some life type things that he taught me and work ethic things. He really stepped forward to help me. Tom Jackson was a great example as well. I stepped into a great defense that was full of talent and good men. That was the thing about those guys that was so impressive, not only were they good players but good people.

After retiring, Jones moved to Idaho with his wife Kathy.  He runs Broadmouth Canyon Ranch where visitors are able to come and hunt with the former NFL Great.  You can check out information HERE.

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