The wearers of #16 are largely unknown to general fan population. Six of the nine players to don the number appeared in four or fewer games. None of those six made a memorable contribution to the body of Broncos lore. Of the three who appeared in more games, only two carved out a solid place in Broncos history.
Take a jump with me and see who these seven quarterbacks, one punter and one wide receiver were . . . and decide who deserves to be called "The Greatest to Wear the #16."
Appeared in 28 games and started 4. Had a career 0-4-0 record with the Broncos. Completed 43.8% of his passes for 1297 yards. Threw 5 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. Had 2 rushing touchdowns. Had 150 punts with a 38.4 yards per punt average. Ranked 2nd in the AFL in punt attempts and punt yards.
Dick Wood QB 1962
Appeared in 1 game. Did not throw a pass nor did he run the ball. Only AFL player to play for 5 different AFL teams during his career.
Mike Ernst QB 1972
Appeared in 1 game. Completed 25% of his passes for 10 yards. Rushed 1 time for 4 yards.
John Hufnagel QB 1974-75
Appeared in 9 games and started 1. Had a career 0-1-0 record with the Broncos. Completed 36.1% of his passes for 357 yards. Threw 1 touchdown and 9 interceptions. Drafted in the 14th round, played with Denver for three seasons before moving to the Canadian Football League.
Jeff Knapple QB 1980
Appeared in 2 games. Completed 25% of his passes for 15 yards. Rushed 6 times but did not gain any yards.
Monte McGuire QB 1987
Appeared in 2 games. Completed 2 out of 3 passes for 23 yards.
Tom Rouen P 1993-2002
Appeared in 152 games -- played in every game that he was a Bronco. Had 641 punts with a 43.9 yards per punt average. Only had 7 punts blocked in 8 seasons. Kicked 49 punts out of bounds, had 91 punts downed by the Broncos, placed 182 punts inside the opponents' 20 yard line, had 75 touchbacks and forced opposing returners to call for a fair catch 106 times. Opposing teams returned 320 punts for an average of 10.96 yards per return. Had 5 punts returned for touchdowns. Was part of the Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII wins. Left the Broncos as the team's all time leader in punts.
Jake Plummer QB 2003-06
Appeared in 59 games and started 54. Had a career 39-15-0 record with the Broncos. Completed 59.1% of his passes for 11,631 yards. Threw 71 touchdowns and 47 interceptions. Had a passer rating of 84.3. Took the Broncos to the post season each of his first three years, including the AFC Championship game in 2005. Holds a franchise-best .722 winning percentage as the Broncos starting quarterback. Has 4.4 touchdown percentage -- tied with Jay Cutler as the highest touchdown percentage since Craig Morton (1977-81) achieved a 4.6. In 2005, led the Broncos in breaking the 10-game post season winning streak of the New England Patriots.
Chad Jackson WR 2008
Appeared in 4 games and started 0. Had 1 catch for 19 yards. Returned 8 kickoffs for 162 yards. Made the 53-man active roster on September 5, 2009, but was released on September 7, 2009.
I am able to see compelling reasons to advance both Tom Rouen and Jake Plummer as the greatest to wear #16. Rouen was with the Broncos for eight season, was a part of two Super Bowl wins and left the teams as the franchise leader in punting. Plummer was only with the Broncos for four years, but in those four years set the mark for the best winning percentage among all Broncos quarterbacks and took the team to the post season three straight years, including the AFC Championship game.
So, I'm proposing them both as "Co-Greatests to Wear the #16"