Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers loses the ball against Elvis Dumervil of the Denver Broncos during the 2011 AFC Wild Card Playoff game. Dumervil is one of the best 4th round draft picks in Broncos history. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
We’ve covered the 5th, sixth and 7th round Draft picks in Broncos franchise history and now we will move toward the top picks, one round at a time. This brings us to the 4th round. To review, I am using Chad Reuter’s chart that is linked from thefootballeducator.com, former Broncos GM Ted Sunquist’s site. In the 2012 NFL, the fourth round consisted of picks 96 through 135. Reuter states that picks 80-120 have an 8% success rate and picks 121-160 have a 3.8% chance of making 56 starts in his first 5 seasons. Call it an even 6% for the 4th round expectations.
The Broncos have drafted 57 players in the 4th round from 1967 to date. Two of those, Omar Bolden and Philip Blake have yet to play a down, dropping the list to 55. Five (9%) of those players made it to the Pro Bowl and four (7.2%) achieved All-Pro status.
- Rick Upchurch - 4 Pro Bowls, 3x All-Pro
- Lyle Alzado - 2 Pro Bowls, 2x All-Pro
- Tom Jackson - 3 Pro Bowls, 1x All-Pro
- Elvis Dumervil - 1 Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro
- Brandon Marshall - 2 Pro Bowls
24 players (43.6%) were the primary starter at their position for at least one year. Nine players (15.7%) were the main starter for 5 or more seasons. Fifteen (27.2%) of these players started at least 30 games and eight (14.5%) started 56 or more games. The good news is that only six players (10.9%) washed out and did not play a game in the NFL. Ten (18.1%) players appeared in 10 games or less but at least one game. 22 (40%) of these players appeared in at least 50 games and 13 (23.6%) played in 85 or more games.
|Draft Year||Player||Position||Games Played||Games Started|
|2012||Omar Bolden||Defensive Back||N/A||N/A|
|2011||Julius Thomas||Tight End||4||1|
|2009||David Bruton||Defensive Back||45||4|
|2009||Seth Olsen||Guard||9 (3)||1 (0)|
|2008||Kory Lichtensteiger||Center||37 (16)||19 (0)|
|2008||Jack Williams||Defensive Back||22 (21)||0|
|2007||Marcus Thomas||Defensive Tackle||76||34|
|2006||Elvis Dumervil||Defensive End||75||59|
|2006||Brandon Marshall||Wide Receiver||91 (61)||75 (45)|
|2006||Domenick Hixon||Wide Receiver||48 (4)||10 (0)|
Out of the bottom ten in the above list, Quinton Carter is on a pace to play 80 games and start 50, though he should be a starter this year and those numbers would increase if that happens. Obviously after one year, the jury is still out, but Q-Cart’s success rate is promising. Much more so than Julius Thomas at this point anyway. Thomas is stuck behind Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreesen at present and has yet to be healthy long enough to properly evaluate. He looked really good at Training Camp last year, especially as a Goal Line target. He needs to step up and show some progress in Camp this season.
Of the pair of players drafted in 2009, we see another 50% return. Davis Bruton has been a solid Special Teams contributor and projects to play in 75 games and start 8. Meanwhile eth Olsen didn’t pan out and now plays sparingly for the Indianapolis Colts.
The 2008 draft was a disaster. At least from the 4th round perspective. Kory Lichtensteiger turned out to be nothing more than "Just Another Guy." The Broncos got 16 games out of him and he was waived after one season.
I did a study of all 4th round picks from a 1967-2008 because the 2008 draft class should have had enough time for evaluation. This study encompassed 1272 players. Here is what I found:
Number of years as the primary starter
- 39 players were 10 year starters - (3%)
- 165 players started 5-10 years - (12.9%)
- 272 players started at least 4 years - (21.3%)
- 596 players were the primary starter for at least one year - (46.8%)
The Denver Broncos had four players (7.2%) who were 10 year starters. Nine players (15.7%) who were the primary starter at their position. for 5 or more years. 24 Broncos were the primary starter for at least one year - (43.6%).
- 88 players started 100 or more games - (6.9%)
- 225 players started 56 or more games - (17.6%)
- 299 players started 40 or more games - (23.5%)
- 359 players started 30 or more games - (28.2%)
The Broncos had 5 players (9%) start 100 games or more, 8 players (14.5%) start 56 games or more, 12 (21.8%) started 40 or more games and 15 (27.2%) started 30 or more games.
- 45 players played in 170 games - (3.5%)
- 166 players appeared in 120 games or more - (13%)
- 256 players appeared in 100 games or more - (20.1%)
- 350 players appeared in 85 games or more - (27.5%)
- 580 players appeared in 50 games or more - (45.5%)
- 276 played less than 10 games in the NFL - (21.6%)
- 149 were complete Busts (11.7%)
10 Broncos (18/1%) played in 100 or more games, 13 (23.6%) played in 85 or more games and 22 (40%) appear in 50 games or more. Sixteen (29%) Broncos 4th round draft picks played in 10 games or less in the NFL.
- 19 players drafted in the 4th round, went to at least one Pro Bowl - (4.7%)
- 8 players made All-Pro status at least once - (2%)
- 6 went to more than one Pro Bowl and one player went to 4 Pro Bowls - (1.5%)
Five Broncos (9%) made it to the Pro Bowl and four (7.2%) achieved All-Pro status
To review, the Denver Broncos were above the median line in almost every category in the study. The success rate is 6% (56 starts) according to Reuters, but the study concludes that number to be 14.1%. The chances of getting a 5-10 year starter drop to 10.8% success rate and the chances of drafting a complete bust (10 games or less) is 13.3%. The Broncos failed in the bust category, something we’ve all suspected in Mike Shanahan’s regime, which this study eclipses.
Let’s hope that changes drastically in the immediate future.