In anticipation of the next NFL event 2 weeks from now, the staff has decided to review the Denver Broncos draft classes since 2000. The good, the bad, and everything in between in what has led to where the Broncos are today. Before we get there, we should set the stage prior to the league’s Spring affair.
The 1999 Broncos finished 5th in the AFC West division with a 6-10 record. It was head coach Mike Shanahan’s first season without John Elway and a year removed from Denver’s back-to-back Super Bowl Championships. Brian Griese was Elway’s heir apparent, getting the starting nod over Bubby Brister. The Broncos lost their first 4 games on their way to their first losing season since 1994 and the worst since 1990. Terrell Davis tore his ACL and MCL in his right knee during Week 4 against the New York Jets, all but closing the door on a remarkable, but short career and Olandis Gary led the league’s 9th ranked rushing attack with 1,159 yards and 7 Touchdowns. The Defense was led by DT Trevor Pryce (13 SKs), LB Glenn Cadrez (82 TKLs, 7 SKs) and CB Tory James (5 INTs).
Here is how the 2000 draft board fell for the Broncos.
|3||70||Chris Cole||Wide Receiver||Texas A&M|
|4||101||Jerry Johnson||Defensive Tackle||Florida St.|
|5||154||Muneer Moore||Wide Receiver||Richmond|
|6||189||Mike Anderson||Running Back||Utah|
|7||214||Jarious Jackson||Quarterback||Notre Dame|
|7||246||Leroy Fields||Wide Receiver||Jackson St.|
Top pick Deltha O’Neal didn’t see any playing time at Cornerback behind Terrell Buckley, Ray Crockett and Jimmy Spencer, but he contributed on Special Teams with 3 Tackles, 1 Forced Fumble and 3 Fumble Recoveries as well as being the team’s primary return man. O’Neal returned 34 Punts with a 10.4 average and 46 kickoffs for 1,102 yards, a 24.0 yard average and a Touchdown. Deltha started at Left Cornerback for the next 2 seasons and went to the Pro Bowl in 2001.
Ian Gold appeared in all 16 games as a rookie playing behind Bill Romanowski. He made 20 Tackles, 2 Sacks, one Forced Fumble and 2 Fumble Recoveries. Ian played for seven seasons with the Broncos, with a year in Tampa Bay in between. He went to the Pro Bowl in 2001/
Kenoy Kennedy appeared in 13 games and had 7 Tackles and one Interception. He would go on to start at Strong Safety for the next 4 years for Denver.
Chris Cole appeared in 8 games in 2000. He returned 11 Kickoffs for a 24.0 yard average. He played two more seasons for the Broncos, mostly as their Kick Returner. Cole ended up playing 35 games (1 start) in Denver, with 12 catches for 164 yards.
Jerry Johnson’s career lasted all of 9 games. He had 5 Tackles to his credit.
Cooper Carlisle appeared in 14 games as a rookie and ended up starting 38 of 95 games for the Broncos over 7 seasons. He was the starter at Right Guard in 2005 and 2006 and is credited with 5 Fumble Recoveries. Carlisle moved on to the Oakland Raiders as a Free Agent in 2007 and is still playing for them.
Muneer Moore had a terrific Training Camp, catching everything that came his way. But he fractured his left ankle in the very first Preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals and spent the season on Injured Reserve. Moore was cut at the end of the season and replaced by Chris Doering. His career was over almost as soon as it began.
Mike Anderson was the steal of the 2000 NFL Draft. Plugged into to the Alex Gibbs/Bobby Turner Zone Blocking system that seemingly created 1,000 yard Running Backs out of thin air. Anderson, the former Marine, started 12 games and took off for 1,487 yards and 15 Touchdowns on 297 carries for a 5.0 average. He also caught 23 passes for 169 yards and won the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year. Anderson played 5 seasons for the Broncos and was plagued by injuries until gaining his second 1,000 yard season in 2005. In March 2006, Mike was waived by Denver so they could avoid going over the Salary Cap.
Jarious Jackson was a backup Quarterback for 5 seasons with the Broncos. He saw action in 5 games, going 11/22 for 114 yards and one Interception. He also spent a year playing for the Barcelona Dragons in NFL Europe and 8 seasons with the British Columbia Lions of the CFL. He currently plays for the Toronto Argonauts after signing a 2-year deal in February.
Leroy Fields was drafted 246th and while at least he wasn’t Mr. Irrelevant, he might as well have been since he didn’t survive Training Camp.
The 2000 NFL Draft produced two Pro Bowl appearances by two players and a Rookie of the Year out of a 6th round pick. The Broncos finished with an 11-5 record that year, largely due to Mike Anderson's 1,487 yards and 15 Touchdowns. Denver got 12 starts out of this draft class, all by Anderson. They weren’t all heroes, but they weren’t zeroes either. I would rate this draft a C+ just because half of them turned out to be players. What is your grade MHR?