We've hit 2004 in our NFL Draft Review series and after coming off one of the worst draft showings in our team's history in 2003 the Broncos needed a little draft respite in '04.
The Denver Broncos had finished up their 2003 campaign with a 10-6 record before suffering a brutal 41-10 loss to the Colts in the wildcard round of the playoffs. It was Jake Plummer's first year as the Broncos starting QB and it was just the second time since the Broncos beat the Falcons in the Super Bowl that we'd made it back to the playoffs (the other year was in 2000 when the Gus Frerotte-led Broncos were embarrassed by the Ravens 21-3).
Things were starting to look up for the Broncos in 2004. Jake was a promising young QB that just needed a little help defensively. How many of us remember that infamous Marvin Harrison TD pass where he fell to the ground and while two Broncos stood arguing over whose assignment was missed Harrison jogged the rest of the way into the endzone? Yes, we needed a little help on defense.
Heading into the 2004 NFL draft the Denver Broncos were armed with 10 selections and I assume a plan on something more permanent than the napkin the '03 draft was penned on. Let's break the picks down.
|2||41||Tatum Bell||RB||Oklahoma State|
|5||152||Jeff Shoate||CB||San Deigo State|
|7||225||Matt Mauck||QB||Louisiana State|
|7||250||Bradlee Van Pelt||QB||Colorado State|
1. D.J. Williams - OLB - Miami
Straight out of the gate D.J. Williams staked his claim to the starting linebacker role on the Broncos. He started 14 games in 2004 and since his rookie season he's only missed a total of 14 games as a Denver Bronco. While it seems that D.J. Williams is constantly fighting off the field demons, women, and alcohol he has been exactly the kind of player the Broncos needed from a first round pick on the field, and that is a productive player that has lasted nearly a decade for the Orange and Blue.
2. Tatum Bell - RB - Oklahoma State
Clinton Portis, after coming off a stellar sophomore year in 2003, was traded to the Washington Redskins before the 2004 season for a 2nd round draft pick and a guy named Champ Bailey. That 2nd round draft pick turned into Tatum Bell. Bell saw his role in the Broncos offense rise during his first three years on the team as he logged 75, 173, and 233 carries respectively. While constantly sharing carries with Mike Anderson, Bell broke 1K yards in '06 before the Broncos traded him at value to the Lions.
Tatum Bell eventually returned to the Broncos on a one-year deal in '08 where he played as a situational back and logged an impressive 5.7 YPC over 7 games. He was not resigned after the '08 season and is currently a free agent.
3. Darius Watts - WR - Marshall
Darius Watts is the classic college star that simply didn't pan out as expected in the NFL. While playing in all 16 games during his rookie season his role as a Bronco wide receiver diminished quickly. He caught 31 passes for 385 yards as a rookie in '04 but Watts caught only 2 passes in 2005. He was release by the Broncos in September, 2006 and spent some time on the New York Giants practice squad before finishing out his career in the AFL.
4. Jeremy LeSueur - CB - Michigan
This 3rd round pick out of Michigan was drafted as promising CB that never saw action as an NFL player. He was picked up by the Jets in '05 and then the Cleveland Browns in '06. LeSueur goes down in Broncos draft history as a legitimate draft bust. Maybe top 15 all time?
5. Jeff Shoate - CB - San Diego State
One round and 67 picks later the Broncos selected another CB in Jeff Shoate. Like his draftmate Jeremy LeSueur, Shoate showed promise coming out of college (isn't this the classic line for every eventual NFL bust?) but saw extremely limited action in '04 (3 tackles) on Special Teams. He went on the IR in '05 after "minor knee surgery" turned into something more serious before being waived by the Broncos in '06. After that Shoate spent time on the Broncos, Ravens, Giants, and Patriots practice squads.
6. Triandos Luke - WR - Alabama
Triandos Luke was the 6th player selected by the Broncos in the 2004 draft and already we are running out of info on these selections. Luke played his only season in the NFL as an extremely limited role WR and return man. He caught a mere 6 passes for 52 yards as a rookie before leaving the NFL altogether. He does win this year's award for most interesting name. So there's that.
7. Josh Sewell - C - Nebraska
Sewell is a somewhat interesting story. After being drafted by the Broncos in 2004 he never saw any action as a starter. He was signed to the Broncos practice squad before his rookie season started and abruptly retired in 2005 to eventually play football for the Frankfurt Galaxy and other non-NFL football teams. In 2008, while playing for the Grand Rapids Rampage, Josh Sewell was asked if he had a nickname. His reply, "I have no nickname. I've done anything cool enough to get one." What a shame.
8. Matt Mauck - QB - Louisiana State
Mauck was a great LSU QB that led his team to the 2003 BCS National Championship over the Oklahoma Sooners. As a Bronco, Mauck never recorded any stats as a backup QB. In '05 Mauck went to the Titans and played in a couple games, neither of them very good. He finished his NFL career 15/27 with 0 TD's/1 INT and a 53.9% QB rating. Today, Matt Mauck is a dentist in the Englewood, CO area where his practice has won top Dentist awards 4 years running.
9. Brandon Miree - RB - Pittsburgh
7th round draft pick Miree never saw action as a Bronco but did spend his '06 season with the Packers where he caught 9 passes for 57 yards. Miree eventually left the NFL and started working on feature films such as "Brotherly Love" (a quick IMDB search tells us this movie didn't get very far) and founded "Music and Sports 4 Success" that attempts to bring kids and adults together through sports and music. In other words, Mr. Miree has quite the hustle since his days in the NFL.
10. Bradlee Van Pelt - QB - Colorado State
As a home-grown Colorado product I had high hopes and low expectations for our dearly beloved CSU Rammie BVP. As the final draft pick for the Broncos in the '04 draft and the second QB selected there wasn't much hope for Van Pelt's Bronco career but he did eventually see action in '05, mostly a rusher. He completed 2 of 8 passes as a Bronco for 8 yards. That's a staggering .88 yards per completion.
BVP eventually went to the Texans to play for his old coach Gary Kubiak and after being released by the Texans he attempted to make the Broncos team again as a safety in '09. Unfortunately his timing wasn't quite right as the Broncos desperate need for a safety didn't really happen until a year or two later. Bad luck Van Pelt.
Today BVP plays for the Leicester Falcons in the UK, a team who is apparently far more accepting of running QB's who also can play safety.
And that, my friends, is the entirety of the '04 NFL draft. How would you rate it?