The Denver Broncos have had their share of ups and downs in the NFL Draft. Over the next few weeks, we'll look at the thighest of highs and lowest of lows. We'll start with the Top-10 Draft Busts in Broncos history, followed by the Top-10 Draft picks in team history. Agree or disagree, this will help us pass the time as we march full-steam ahead towards the 2011 NFL Draft.
We start with Draft Bust #10. Let's be honest, the NFL Draft has not been kind to the Broncos in the past. Especially the early round selections. To limit the picks to 10 is the hard part. I'll do my best.
#10 - PAUL TOVIESSI, DE - MARSHALL(2001, 2nd Round, #51 Overall)
The 2001 NFL Draft was one to forget for the Broncos, especially early on. The Broncos took a chance on one player with injury concerns - DB Willie Middlebrooks - in the First Round, then turned around and traded up to take Marshall DE Paul Toviessi with the #20 pick in the 2nd Round. Like Middlebrooks, the Broncos were drafting more on potential success than the likelihood of success, a draft strategy that became a habit under Mike Shanahan.
Toviessi had already missed an entire season at Marshall with knee issues when the Broncos drafted him in 2001. He did bounce back in 2000 to lead the Thundering Herd to a win in the Motor City Bowl and was named First-Team Defense in the MAC. Ironically, another Broncos Draft Bust - WR Darius Watts - was on that team with Toviessi.
The problems for Toviessi began almost immediately once workouts began. The Broncos signed Toviessi to a 4-year, $2.6 million contract on July 25, 2001. His on-field tenure with the Broncos lasted just 12 days. On August 6, Toviessi injured his right knee during a Training Camp practice. Toviessi underwent surgery on the knee on August 7 and was expected to miss 2-3 weeks. He'd never take the field again for the Broncos.
Toviessi was placed on Injured Reserve on September 1, then underwent a radical procedure in those days - micro-fracture surgery - on the knee later in the month. To his credit, Toviessi tried the rehab the knee in time for Training Camp in 2002. After another procedure to inject fluid into the knee failed, the Broncos released Toviessi on July 24, 2002, just 364 days after signing him to a contract. Toviessi's knee has degraded to a highly painful bone-on-bone situation making moving around normally painful, let alone play football in the NFL.
It's hard to blame Toviessi for being a bust. The Broncos knew Toviessi's past and chose to ignore it, instead banking on the fact Toviessi would live up to the talent. Like another ultra-athletic defensive end that saw a career cut short - Courtney Brown - Toviessi's 6-6, 260 frame just couldn't withstand the power in which Toviessi played.
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