Re-Drafting Denver's 2010 NFL Draft

Tim Tebow was taken 25th overall in the 2010 draft by the Broncos.

Taking a fun look back at the 2010 draft from a Denver Broncos perspective. Who was part of the ideal draft class that the Broncos could have hypothetically come away with?

Anyone who's paid even minute attention to professional football over the past three or four years knows the name Tim Tebow, especially Broncos fans. In fact, practically everyone in North America knows the name, thanks to the constant media attention that Tebow received during his shortly-lived NFL career. If you don't know who I'm talking about, and you're reading this post, take a few quick seconds to Google search 'Tim Tebow NFL career'. If you need a quick refresher on his short-lived career, here's a brief recap:

Tim Tebow was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL draft, 25th overall, after completing a fairly remarkable college football career for the Florida Gators. Tebow sat on the bench for season and a half, before miraculously saving the Broncos' 2011 season with a number of crazy comebacks, which saw him repeatedly climb out of deep holes in the fourth quarter that he had dug himself into during the first three. Following an eventual shellacking by the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional playoffs in 2011, Tebow was traded to the New York Jets for two mid-round draft picks, shortly following the Broncos' signing of Peyton Manning. The New York Jets ended up ultimately using Tebow as a media-attraction tool, rather than an NFL quarterback, and they ended up releasing him following the 2012 season. In the 2013 NFL pre-season, Tebow was signed by the New England Patriots, and competed for a spot on the roster; he ultimately failed in his efforts to make the team, and ended up sitting out the entire 2013 season, despite many teams scraping the bottom of the metaphorical barrel for replacement QBs throughout the season.

Tebow was the second of the Broncos' two first round draft picks in the 2010 draft, and turned out to be quite the flop. Following the trend of a recent string of articles that follow a similar course, I decided to take a look at what could have been in the 2010 draft.

1st Round, 22nd Pick (22nd overall)- Demaryius Thomas (WR- Georgia Tech)

Demaryius Thomas was a downright solid pick for the Denver Broncos, before this draft went South for them. While it's intriguing to wonder what the Broncos would look like with Dez Bryant, who was taken two picks later, I think it's safe to say that I prefer DT over distraction Dez anyway. Thomas was plagued by injuries over his first couple seasons in the league, but has started all 16 games the past two seasons, in which he has averaged 93 receptions, 1432 yards, 12 TDs, and 89.5 yards per game. I would not change a single thing about this first pick.

1st Round, 25th Pick (25th overall)- Tim Tebow (QB- Florida)

Now, before I go any further, I know there is no way to fully calculate the impact a player will have on a team before you draft them and see them play at the NFL level. This is the reason that countless duds have been chosen throughout the year, and is part of the fun of the draft (unless your team constantly chooses these sorts of guys). I just want to take the time to stick this in here before I go any further: This is a completely hypothetical post, based on wishful thinking. It's supposed to be fun. That being said, prior to the draft, Tebow had been down-talked by plenty of scouts who said he didn't have what it took to make it at the NFL level, so it's really hard to see how the Broncos justified taking him in round one. While I'll admit that Tebow did some things for the Broncos that nobody could have, with his miraculous comebacks late in games and his positive demeanor, the scouts were right. Tim Tebow is a gamer, no doubt, and he finds a way to win, but he is not a viable option to lead an NFL team at the most important position on the team. Now, you ask, what would I have done with this 25th overall pick? Well, here's a chart of the players who who were taken after the Tebow pick, that went on to be NFL stars. To make this post as minimally far-fetched as possible, I won't go WAY off the board and take Jimmy Graham at this pick, despite the fact that at the present point in his career, he would have been worth that pick. I'll try to stay as close to the real order as possible, at least within the same round.

Player

Position

Team

Round/Overall (Picks After Tebow)

Devin McCourty

CB

New England

1/27 (2)

TJ Ward

S

Cleveland

2/38 (13)

Rob Gronkowski

TE

New England

2/42 (17)

Brandon Spikes

LB

New England

2/62 (37)

Navorro Bowman

LB

San Francisco

3/91 (66)

Jimmy Graham

TE

New Orleans

3/95 (70)

Alterraun Verner

CB

Tennessee

4/104 (79)

Geno Atkins

DT

Cincinnati

4/120 (95)

*Kam Chancellor

S

Seattle

5/133 (108)

Greg Hardy

DE

Carolina

6/175 (150)

*For the record, this chart is filed under "gross" on my computer, mainly due to the fact that Kam Chancellor was chosen over 100 picks after Tim Tebow and I originally drafted the post immediately after SB48.

What the Broncos staff should have done (in hindsight) is use that pick to draft current New England Patriots safety, Devin McCourty. McCourty's four seasons in the NFL have been spent piling up 245 total tackles, 15 interceptions, and 6 forced fumbles. The cornerback-turned-safety has started 61 regular season games for the Pats (out of a possible 64), dating back to 2010. The Broncos cornerbacks at the time were Champ Bailey, Andre Goodman, Perrish Cox. Not a single one of those players, other than Champ, remains a starter in today's NFL. Whether or not McCourty made the transition from corner to safety on the Broncos, there's no questioning that their defense would have received a big upgrade with McCourty as a part of it.

2nd Round- 13th Pick (45th Overall)- Zane Beadles (Offensive Tackle- Utah)

Zane Beadles is another pick that I don't mind at all. Zane has made a solid contribution to the Broncos' offensive line, especially over the last two seasons. Even though he moved on to Jacksonville this off-season, Beadles was a strong part of the Broncos' O-line and was a leader within the locker room. In his fourth year in the league, Beadles has started 62 of 64 regular season games since being drafted and allowed just one sack in 2013. Beadles was a solid second round pick, I'll leave that one alone.

3rd Round- 16th Pick (80th Overall)- JD Walton (Center- Baylor)

Walton has not started a game for the Broncos since the fourth week of the 2012 season, and his first two NFL seasons were less than impressive (according to Pro Football Focus); so, let's change this one up. Eleven picks after Walton (and 66 after Tebow), a player who nearly won NFL Defensive Player of the Year this season, Navorro Bowman, was taken by the San Francisco 49ers. Just think for a moment what the Broncos would look like with Bowman traversing the middle of the field for them. Instead of the group of DJ Williams, Wesley Woodyard, Joe Mays, and Paris Lenon that has done the job since the 2010 season, the Broncos would have a monster up the middle. Bowman would provide a whole different dynamic for this Broncos defense that simply has not been there since the 2010 season. Bowman is an extremely versatile linebacker, who has racked up 9 sacks, 367 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 7 forced fumbles over the past three seasons, and has been a 1st Team All-Pro in all three. To think that the Broncos had the chance to draft Bowman in the 3rd round is kind of sickening.

3rd Round- 23rd Pick (87th Overall)- Eric Decker (Wide Receiver- Minnesota)

Here's another pick in this draft that has paid dividends for the Broncos over the past four seasons. Decker left via free agency this past week, and while some were happy to see him leave, there's no denying that he had a positive impact in Denver over his past four seasons. Sure, he tripped over nothing but grass and asked for a few too many calls when contacted, but Decker will be harder to replace in Denver than most people seem to think. Now that we've established that Decker was a good pick, especially for the third round, let's just imagine for the sake of fun that the Broncos chose Jimmy Graham (you know, possibly the best tight end in all of pro football) instead of Decker. Graham has been an absolute beast for the New Orleans Saints since he was chosen. The huge target, and two-time Pro-Bowler has hauled in over 300 passes for nearly 4000 yards in his career, including 41 touchdown catches. Decker has played pretty well for the Broncos over the course of his career, yet has 78 less catches, approximately 800 less yards, and 8 less touchdowns than Graham over that time. In other words, while the Decker pick worked out pretty well for the Broncos, it didn't work out as well as Jimmy Graham could have.

5th Round- 6th Pick (137th Overall)- Perrish Cox (Cornerback- Oklahoma State)

Okay, so let's say the Broncos have chosen Demaryius Thomas, Devin McCourty, Zane Beadles, Navorro Bowman, and Jimmy Graham so far- and consequently, they have already drafted the best single draft class in recent (and maybe all of) history. Since they didn't draft Eric Decker, and they already drafted a cornerback named Devin McCourty, let's say they pass on Cox and take Riley Cooper, who was taken 22 picks later. Now, instead of having DT, Decker, and Daniel Graham (TE), you now have DT, Riley Cooper, and Jimmy Graham. Sounds a little better, right? Cooper proved in 2013 that he can be an impact player, and was rewarded for that with a new contract in Philly. Anyway, I won't go into incredible detail here, but a starting wide receiver over a third or fourth corner is a pretty easy choice.

6th Round- 13th Pick (183rd Overall)- Eric Olsen (Center- Notre Dame)

I'm pushing it at this point, because clearly you're going to have a few duds within your draft class, but since this is a hypothetical situation, we might as well load that draft class up. Olsen has started sixteen games in his entire career, which is news to me, because he didn't started a single one for the Broncos. So instead of taking Olsen, let's say the Broncos' scouts saw what the Steeler scouts somehow saw, and took Antonio Brown in the sixth round. Yes, Antonio Brown, the Steelers' number one receiver, was once taken twelve picks behind Eric Olsen. I'll just let that sink in.

7th Round- 17th Pick (225th Overall) Syd'Quan Thompson (Cornerback- California)

Despite having a cool name, Syd'Quan didn't amount to much for the Broncos, who would have been far better off taking one of the following current NFL starters, who were undrafted that season: Joique Bell (RB), Barry Church (S), Sam Shields (CB), Junior Galette (LB), Victor Cruz (WR), Tramaine Brock (CB).

To summarize, here is who the Broncos should have and could have drafted in 2010, in hindsight:

  • First Round (22nd Pick)- Demaryius Thomas (WR)
  • First Round (25th Pick)- Devin McCourty (CB) Tim Tebow (QB)
  • Second Round (45th Pick)- Zane Beadles (OT)
  • Third Round (80th Pick)- Navorro Bowman (LB) JD Walton (C)
  • Third Round (87th Pick)- Jimmy Graham (TE) Eric Decker (WR)
  • Fifth Round (137th Pick)- Riley Cooper (WR) Perrish Cox (CB)
  • Sixth Round (183rd Pick)- Antonio Brown (WR) Eric Olsen (C)
  • Seventh Round (225th Pick)- Sam Shields (CB) Syd'Quan Thompson (CB)

Clearly this was an extremely far-fetched idea, but it was simply meant to be an entertaining exercise, as well as a look at how the draft can be completely unpredictable. Clearly if the Broncos should have taken these players, so should have almost every other team who didn't. Obviously no scouting team will ever draft a perfect class of players, but it's crazy to think that this mix of players was, at least in theory, available for the Broncos to select, assuming that all the other picks remained the same. In other words, this was hypothetically possible. If you want there to be a reason beyond pure fun and interest that you read this, take it as a lesson that a player who is drafted by your team in a late round (Kam Chancellor in Round 5) could be a valuable asset at some point down the road, just as much as that first round pick your team made (Tim Tebow in Round 1) could be a total flop. Anyway folks, let us know in the comments below whether you would change any of the selections that were made above, or which one you think would have had the biggest impact on the Broncos as a team.

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