The five worst Broncos draft picks since the Super Bowl years

Doug Pensinger

I blame Josh McDaniels for a lot of things, including some useless draft picks. But Shanahan was not without blame. Luckily, the John Elway-as-GM era has been far more reliable.

In many ways it is a lot easier to determine the worst picks in Broncos Draft Day history than it was the best. I don't feel as bad for leaving someone off the list because sometimes it is better to forget anyway.

But for fun and to keep the Draft Day debates alive, here are my five worst top-round picks since 1999.

Honorable mentions:

Willie Middlebrooks, 1st round pick, 24th overall, 2001

Middlebrooks started just two games in four seasons and racked up a whopping 23 tackles and one sack. We traded him to the 49ers and then brought him back in 2006, but he didn't make the roster.

George Foster, right tackle, 1st round, 20th overall, 2003

It's easy to use his stats to tell the story - sat out rookie year, played 45 games over the next three seasons and had one fumble recovery. For a highly touted player out of the SEC, such lack of production for a first-round pick is highly disappointing.

Tim Tebow, quarterback, 1st round, 25th pick overall, 2010

Fan favorite, man of faith, team leader, terrible passer. Drafting Tebow is not a bad idea...if you need a fullback. And as it turned out, Tebow the quarterback had some great moments that almost rescued two of our more dismal seasons and even led to one of the most exciting overtime playoff victories with the 2012 win over the heavily favored (and always arrogant) Pittsburgh Steelers.

I loved that game and like many Broncos fans, hoped Tebow would become the franchise quarterback we needed. But "good guy" argument aside (and I'm always a fan of that argument), a No. 1 draft pick needs to be for franchise players and, if you're lucky, future Hall-of-Famers. (Luckily, we didn't need the draft to end up with that quarterbackbecause Tebowmania could just never be that guy.)

So let's get to the real egregious picks. The ones who are almost too embarrassing to acknowledge. But you know what they say - the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

# 5-3. Josh McDaniels. That's right, I'm picking the coach because I am blaming him for all of the 2009 busts. If it weren't for the Knowshon Moreno pick that year, it would have been beyond embarrassing.

Let's review - Alphonso Smith, cornerback; Darcel McBath, safety; Richard Quinn, tight end - all 2nd round picks, all complete busts.

McBath started only one game in two years with Denver, registering a measly 28 tackles and two interceptions.

Quinn was even more unimpressive. In two seasons with the Broncos, the former Tar Heel made one reception. Yes, you read that right - one. Shannon Sharpe is no doubt embarrassed that guy played the same position on the same team he did. Not. Even. Close.

The 5'9" Smith was drafted to be a starter opposite Champ Bailey. Instead, he started zero games of the 15 he played, made no interceptions and had just seven tackles.

Adding insult to injury, we had traded our first-round pick to Seattle in order to get Smith. Guess who Seattle got for that trade? Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas who just signed a four-year extension for $40 million, the highest paid safety in the NFL. Should we mention how that worked out for us in February? Nice move, Josh.

#2 - Maurice Clarett, running back, 3rd round, 101st overall, 2005

Maurice Clarett almost deserves the No. 1 distinction except we should have known what we were getting. Everyone else did.

A rookie phenom at Ohio State who left the team over a dispute with coaches, he sued to get into the 2004 NFL draft. When that didn't work, he attempted the NFL Combine in 2005, where he lasted only one day before quittingbecause it "was a rough day."

Seriously? I'm in favor of second chances. I even kinda like players who have been down on their luck because it often means they're ready to work hard and erase a past.

But if the Combine is too tough to stick around, what do you think a season is like? Or, heck, a game where you are losing. Those are rough...but you have to keep playing.

He almost deserves the No. 1 distinction, except we should have known what we were getting. Everyone else did.
My point - this should have been a glaring red flag. Regardless of how well he worked out in subsequent workouts, Clarett had a history of quitting, and the third round of the draft doesn't belong to quitters. Most fans remember the rest of the story - Clarett lasted a month after signing a contract, never played a preseason or regular season game and eventually moved on to spending three and a half years in a prison cell.

#1- Jarvis Moss, defensive end, 1st round, 17th pick overall, 2007

It's a toss-up putting Moss or Clarett as the worst pick ever, but what seals this as the No. 1 worst pick is simply the draft pick. 1st round pick, 17th overall. And the Broncos traded up to get him.

Moss played 34 games in four seasons with the Broncos and marked 3.5 sacks. That's not even one sack per year. And he was supposed to be a franchise player? Check, please.

Thank goodness for Broncos Country; ever since John Elway came on board in the front office, Draft Day miscues have not been interceptions in the end zone but rather a couple rushes for a loss.

Here's to a successful 2014 Draft!

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