The 2001 Denver Broncos season saw a devastating injury to Ed McCaffrey, week 1 against the New York Giants. The next day, America was attacked by terrorists, which caused the September 16th game to be postponed until January 6th, 2002. The Broncos finished 8-8, missed the playoffs, and lost Ed McCaffrey.
These are the events that led up to the 2002 offseason. Mike Shanahan was on the doorstep of the playoffs, so it was critical that the 2002 Draft would provide some starters to push this team over the edge of the playoff threshold.
Here is how the 2002 draft board fell for the Denver Broncos.
|3||96||Dorsett Davis||DT||Mississippi St.|
|5||144||Herb Haygood||WR||Michigan St.|
|6||191||Jeb Putzier||TE||Boise St.|
|7||228||Chris Young||S||Georgia Tech|
After Ed McCaffrey suffered a gruesome injury, his career was in doubt and it came as no surprise that the Broncos drafted a wide receiver with their first round selection. Ashlie Lelie was a pretty good fit with the Broncos, once Jake Plummer allowed the Broncos to bootleg. His ability to go long and track the ball in the air to make acrobatic catches was something that the Broncos offense really benefited from. Unfortunately, when the Broncos acquired Javon Walker in 2006, Ashlie Lelie pitched a fit and demanded a trade. He got his wish and played briefly for the Falcons, 49ers and Raiders over the next few years. He spent a short time with the Kansas City Chiefs but was released before the 2009 season.
Drafted in the 2nd round, Clinton Portis quickly became the starting runningback for the Broncos. He rushed for over 1500 yards in both of his 2 seasons in Denver. More impressive than that, he averaged 5.5 yards per carry during that time. He became the youngest player to score 4 touchdowns in a game on December 12, 2002 as the Broncos beat the Chiefs 31-14. After the 2003 season, Clinton Portis was a part of a trade to the Washington Redskins that netted the Broncos a future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey and a 2nd round pick that turned out to be Tatum Bell (who ironically used the number 26, which Portis had used during his time in Denver).
It was a good sentiment, I guess. Dorsett Terrell Davis was drafted just a few years after Terrell Davis helped the Broncos win the Lombardi Trophy. However, Dorsett's impact wasn't quite as big. He was on the inactive list for the entire 2002 season. The year after, he was expected to make a large impact, but he played in only 14 games of the 2003 season where he had 10 tackles and one pass deflection. He never played another regular season game in the NFL. He tore a tendon in his left pinky and missed the entire 2004 season. He was waived at the end of the 2005 training camp on September 3rd. He tried out with the Dolphins in November, but he didn't sign. In 2006, he played a year with the Edmonton Eskimos.
This UNLV safety played 127 games for the Broncos from 2002 to 2006. He spent his career mainly lined up against Tight Ends and playing some special teams. Amid assault charges and facing a possible NFL suspension, Sam Brandon suffered a knee injury. The Broncos released him and he never played in the NFL again.
As the second wide receiver taken by the Broncos in the 2002 draft, he didn't have nearly as much impact as Ashlie Lelie. He played only 4 games for the Broncos in 2002. He spent 2003 with the Indianapolis Colts and 2004 with the Kansas City Chiefs. He then went to the Great Lakes Indoor Football League, where he played with the Battle Creek Crunch.
Despite having only 4 receptions in his first two years, Putzier broke out in 2004 and 2005, becoming a pretty nice receiving option at the tight end position. After 2005, however, the Broncos released him in a salary cap purge and he was recruited to the Houston Texans with Gary Kubiak, who had taken over the head coaching position. Two years with the Texans and Jeb Putzier had only 19 receptions during that time. He spent a short time with the Seattle Seahawks and again with the Denver Broncos, but didn't record any stats because he was cut again by the Broncos in 2009. He played nowhere in 2009, but came to the UFL for a short stint with the Hartford Colonials and Omaha Nighthawks.
Chris Young played 21 games for the Denver Broncos and recorded 7 tackles, playing mostly on special teams. He suffered a knee injury in 2004 and never played in the NFL again.
Pope played 14 games as a rookie with 1 start. He notched 4 sacks, his best total as a pro. He continued to contribute to the Broncos until 2005, totaling 48 solo tackles and 6 sacks. After 2005, the Broncos did not resign Pope and he was signed by the New York Jets. He was pushing Dewayne Robinson for the starting defensive tackle role, but quit for "person reasons".
Any draft that includes David Carr as the 1st overall pick is surely one that makes you scratch your head. For the Denver Broncos, the first two picks worked out fairly well. We essentially picked Champ Bailey and Tatum Bell with our second round pick in 2002. Can't get much better than that, if you ask me. The rest of this draft is fairly forgettable, though. Is the Clinton Portis pick enough to qualify this draft as an A?
That's for MHR to decide.