This is my all-time bronco team for your consideration and discussion but let me get a few biases out before we get started. Number one, I went back to 1986 because it was the first time I really remember watching Bronco games, but I was seven at the time so there was little in-depth scouting going on, especially for those positions like lineman and cornerbacks that fly under a seven-year old's radar. Along the same lines, more recent players are probably favored just because I remember them better and watched more of their games. Number two, there was no statistical analysis. Going back and comparing statistics would probably lead to a more defensible position but they fail to tell the whole story and frankly: who has the time?. Number 3, there was a balance drawn between picking the absolute players at a position and making the best team. For example Keith Burns was not one of the top four or so Bronco inside linebackers since 1986, but he was a heck a special teams player. I will admit that I was pretty inconsistent with this rule. Number 4, I am probably not as hard on failed players as most. The excitement I remember upon hear that the Broncos signed Michael Dean Perry, Daryl Carter, or even Travis Henry makes me partially forget some of their failings on the team. Lastly, the performance of a player before joining or after leaving the team is considered though not as much as their performance with the team. For example Neil Smith gets credit for the player he was as a Chief though someone like Seth Joyner who joined the Broncos well after his prime does not get much consideration simply because he wasn't an outstanding player for the Broncos.
No position get much easier than this and no all-time Bronco team will ever have anyone taking the ball from center besides Mr. John Bronco himself; not much more needs to be said on that. Jay I guess will be a more controversial choice but not too many backups are going to be able to make all the throws that Elway can. Perhaps in practice we can finally decide who has the better arm. The Snake gets the nod as the 3rd QB because the man simply won games, something Griese, Brister, Orton, or Kubiak never consistantly did. Maybe next year Tebow gets consideration for his value as a wildcat option.
Running Back: Terrell Davis, Clinton Portis, Sammy Winder
Nothing makes me much more excited about this team than the idea of an in-his-prime Terrell Davis running again, spelled every three or four series by a in-his-prime Clinton Portis. Oh where, oh where has the dominant Bronco running game gone? Sammy Winder gets the nod for 3rd back for his consistancy and lunchbox/hardhat running style. This was one of the hardest decision and I reserve the right to go with Bobby Humphrey, Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary, or Rod Bernstine if asked tomorrow. Glynn Milburn was almost the choice because of what he could bring as a third-down back.
Fullback: Howard Griffith, Reuben Doughns
A stable of backs as the good as the one listed above deserves a top-notch personal protector and Griffith is just that. Few better lead blockers than him have ever been made. Like many readers here I was tempted to put Peyton Hillis on as the 2nd fullback but after some consideration I went with Droughns. Rebeun showed the promise Hillis showed for a game, for an entire season; I can't say that I remember anyone that ever ran harder.
This might be the toughest position and the one that I am the least happy with. The first three are easy. Rod Smith and Brandon Marshall might be opposites off the field but both were as productive as they come on it. I had some second thoughts about putting Marshall ahead of Eddie Mac but Marshall just can't be tackled. I have never seen anyone like him in the NFL and it is going to suck to see him breaking open field tackles as a Dolphin. After that I am not sure what to do. Along with the two amigos I chose, arguements can also be made for Eddie Royal, Anthony Miller, Javon Walker, and probably even Brandon Stokley as a slot specialist. Royal, Miller, and Walker are probably all more talented than Jackson and Johnson but none of them have done it for more than a couple years and I remember Vance and especially Mark Jackson always getting open when it mattered (plus I had a Vance Johnson poster on my wall as a kid).
Tight End: Shannon Sharpe, Daniel Graham, Byron Chamberlain
Wow, Sharpe and Graham. I couldn't think of a much better combination. Sharpe as the greatest receiving threat at tight end of all time and an underrated blocker and Graham as an outstanding blocker and an underrated receiver. Throw in that they are both great team leaders and I am hoping this team lines up in plenty of two tight end sets. Chamberlain is another tough choice over Desmond Clark and Tony Scheffler but gets the nod for making a pro bowl. Clarence Kay may be another good choice if you wanted the 3rd TE to be more of a blocker than receiver.
It takes a heck of a good player to bump Ryan Clady from LT to RT but no question Gary Zimmerman is just that and has a bust in Canton to prove it. In fact, short of Anthony Munoz there aren't many tackles that could start over Gary Zimmerman. With Clady and Zimmerman manning the book ends that number seven jersey should say pretty clean and Cutler can be relegated to mop-up duty. The backups certainly aren't too shabby either, Tony Jones made that second superbowl win possible after moving over to left tackle after Zimmerman retired and Lepsis had a great run in the early to mid 2000's. Ryan Harris gets left off but is not forgotten and my apologies to some of the older guys from teams in the late 80's who I may be missing.
Guard: Mark Schlereth, Keith Bishop, Ben Hamilton
Stink and Bishop both on the inside of the line, cut blocking and trapping and basically just getting the job done despite not being the biggest guys, I love it. Both Schlereth and Bishop have a couple pro bowl selections and Schlereth managed to win three superbowls. Bishop didn't get the superbowl wins but gets credit both for being the Bronco's best lineman in the 80's and for uttering the line, "we got 'em right where we want them" before "The Drive." Hamilton gets credit for years of solid production to edge out Dan Neil, Chris Kuper, Brian Habib, and Doug Widdell (the only Bronco autograph that I have).
Center: Tom Nalen, Casey Weigmann
Maybe its not as easy as the Elway choice but its close; Tom Nalen is the anchor of this line. The middle of the line might be a bit undersized but you won't find much better football players. I remember living in Wisconsin during the run-up to the 1997 superbowl and reading about how the biggest mismatch for that game was supposed to be Nalen versus the Packers' 350 lb. plus NT Gilbert Brown. Well the papers were right to call it a mismatch, they just messed up in identifying who had the advantage. Weigmann is not that different than Nalen and made a pro bowl after replacing him. Weigmann gets the nod over Keith Kartz for backup center.
Kicker: Jason Elam
Yet another simple choice; only Rich Karlis' bare kicking foot made me think of any other option.
Defense: Defense to follow if people read and like the write up on the offense.