From the time of the AFL-NFL merger in 1967 up through 1993, the NFL Draft was a long drawn out affair of 17 rounds. Today it is a modest 7 rounds by comparison, yet still takes three days to complete. I have taken you through the history 15 of those 17 rounds, looking at both the Broncos and the league. Now it is time for chapter 16.
To jog your memory, 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.
11 players were drafted by the Denver Broncos during the history of the 16th round.
2 of these players were the primary starter for at least one season.
1 player made 20 starts.
4 made 26 or more game appearances.
7 did not appear in a single game at all (63.6%).
- DB Jack Lentz - 2 yr starter, 26 games, 7 starts.
- G Darrell Austin - 1 yr starter, 69 games, 20 starts.
All total, there were 262 players drafted in the 16th round between 1967-93.
None went to the Pro Bowl and 218 of them were total washouts (83.2%).
11 were the primary starter at their position for one or more years.
3 were the primary starter at their position for 4 or more years.
19 made 26 or more game appearances.
3 made 122 or more game appearances.
5 players made at least 20 starts.
2 made at least 41 starts.
- DE Larry Cole - 11 yr starter, 176 games, 78 starts.
- RB Rocky Bleier - 6 yr starter, 140 games, 17 starts.
- DB Lloyd Mumphord - 4 yr starter, 122 games, 36 starts.
Larry Cole was the 428th overall pick taken in the 1968 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He played in 26 career playoff games and five Super Bowls, winning rings in SB VI and XII.
Rocky Bleier was part of the Pittsburgh Steelers dynasty run, teaming up with Franco Harris in the Pittsburgh backfield. Rocky was selected 418th overall in 1968 and played 11 years in the Steel city. He won 4 rings in Super Bowls IX, X, XIII and XIV. Bleier caught a touchdown pass in Super Bowl XIII and was the Steelers 4th all-time leading rusher when he retired in 1980.
Lloyd Mumphord was taken with the 401st overall pick in 1969 by the Miami Dolphins. After a six year stint which he went to 3 Super Bowls (VI, VII and VIII), Lloyd won two rings and was a member of the Dolphins perfect season in 1972.
It turns out that the 16th round wasn’t all that special for the Broncos, but it did contain 3 players that were better than "Just Another Guy" for their respective teams. Cole, Bleier and Mumphord were contributors and also participated in significant moments in NFL history.
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