The Broncos and the 15th Round of the NFL Draft

The Denver Broncos Training Camp begins one week from today at their Dove Valley training complex. As we continue our patient wait, I have delved into the annals of the Broncos draft history to see if their is a standard measurement for a successful draft pick so that we could judge whether a player is living up to the expectations of their draft position. We have been through the first 14 rounds and are nearly finished with this series. It is time to take a look at Round 15.

My reference point for this series of posts is a chart that former Broncos General Manager Ted Sundquist listed on his site footballeducator.com. The chart was developed by Chad Reuters of NFL Draft Scout and is as good place as any to begin from. The metric he states for having a successful draft pick is, 56 starts by the player’s fifth season.


10 players were drafted by the Broncos in the 15th round.


None of the players that the Broncos drafted in the 15th round made it to the Pro Bowl.

Two of then were primary starters, but neither started more than 44 games. Seven of the ten never played in the NFL (70%).

  • DB Calvin Jones - 4 yr starter, 46 games, 44 starts.
  • P Wilbur Summers - 1 yr starter, 13 games, 0 starts.


262 total players were drafted in the 15th round of the Draft.


One player was an All-Pro and a 3-Time Pro Bowler. That guy? Billy "White Shoes" Johnson.

24 were the primary starter at their position for one or more seasons.
5 players were the primary starter for 5 or more seasons.

  • K Bob Thomas - 9 yr starter, 144 games, 0 starts.
  • WR Don Herrmann - 7 yr starter, 100 games, 27 starts.
  • LB Sam Hunt - 6 yr starter, 84 games, 81 starts.
  • RB Tom Sullivan - 5 yr starter, 84 games, 13 starts.
  • DB Lee Nelson - 5 yr starter, 135 games, 65 starts.


6 players started 44 or more games (2.2%).
3 players started more than 56 games (1.1%).

21 played in 46 games or more (8%).
12 played in 75 or more games.
6 players appeared in at least 100 games.

217 out of 262 players did not play a game in the league (82.8%).



Face it, if you were drafted in the 15th round back when, you didn’t stand much of a chance. A washout rate of over 80% is pretty long odds. Even the Broncos, only had so-so success with a one out of 10 shot in their history. I remember Billy "White Shoes" Johnson as an exciting player to watch for the Oilers and his touchdown celebration was the beginning of the showboat era of sports.

Hang on folks, Training Camp is nearly here and there are only two more rounds to cover.

Go Broncos!

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