As we continue looking at the Denver Broncos and their draft history, the 7th round becomes the focus for this discussion. I covered the 5th round and the 6th round and plan to keep going until a reasonable conclusion can be made for a standard of success at each round of the draft. Obviously, the later the round, the more difficult it is to make any NFL teams final roster. Many 7th round picks are raw and have as much chance of landing on the Practice Squad as they do being cut in Training Camp. The good news as far as Broncos Country is concerned, is that their favorite team has done fairly well in the late rounds. In fact, one of the four Bronco players inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame was drafted in the 7th round. It shouldn’t take much effort for you to realize I’m speaking of the "Mouth of the South", Shannon Sharpe.
I will refer once more to Chad Reuter’s draft success chart for the purpose of establishing a baseline to start from. In the 2012 NFL Draft, the 7th round encompassed picks 208 through 253. A peek at the Draft Success chart tells us that any draft pick after #201 has a 1.5% chance of starting 56 games in his first 5 seasons. Truly, it would have to be considered a success for a seventh round draft pick to even survive in the NFL for 5 seasons. We’ll come back to that later, but keep in mind that the average NFL career is about 3.5 years.
From 1967 to date, the Broncos have drafted 55 players in the seventh round in team history. Here are the most recent draft selections
- TE Virgil Green (2011) - played 15 games, starting 3 last season
- DL Jeremy Beal (2011) - Practice Squad player in 2011
- DB Syd’Quan Thompson (2010) - played in 13 games, Injured Reserve in 2011
- DE Jammie Kirlew (2010) - cut in Training Camp 2010
- C Blake Schlueter (2010) - cut in Training Camp 2010
- DB Josh Barrett (2008) - played 20 games, started 3 during 2008-09. Waived/Injured in 2010 and picked up by the New England Patriots.
- RB Peyton Hillis (2008) - played 26 games, started 8 during 2008-09. Traded to the Cleveland Browns in 2010. Has started 31 games in the NFL.
Three of the four draft picks in the last two draft classes are still on the Broncos and since two of those players have contributed already, I will include all 55 draftees in this discussion and use Peyton Hillis’ numbers as the lower median figure for you to consider.
With that said, lets get down to brass tacks. As previously stated, Shannon Sharpe is the cream of this crop by virtue of his Hall of Fame induction. Four players (7.2%) went to the Pro Bowl and three of those were All-Pros. The Broncos have had 15 players (27.2%) from the 7th round who have been the primary starter at their position for at least one season. Nine (16.3%) of those players started at least 3 years and five players (9%) were the primary starters for at least 5 seasons. Not too shabby.
Seventeen out of the 55 players (30.9%) started at least 5 games. Eleven (20%) started at least 20 games. Eight players (14.5%) met the Peyton Hillis standard of starting at least 31 games and six players (10.9%) started at least 48 games in their career.
Nine players (16.3%) appeared in 90 games or more. 26 players (47.2%) appeared in at least 25 games during their career. Sixteen players (29%) appeared in at least 48 games. Interestingly enough, sixteen players (29%) never played a game for the Broncos.
The Top Five 7th round picks for the Broncos
- Shannon Sharpe - 12 year starter, 8 Pro Bowls, 169 starts.
- Tom Nalen - 11 year starter, 5 Pro Bowls, 188 starts
- Clarence Kay - 9 year starter, 126 starts
- Luke Prestridge - 5 year starter, 1 Pro Bowl, 82 games
- Trey Teague - 5 year starter, 80 starts