We are quickly approaching the 2008 NFL Draft, the 14th draft for the Broncos under the guidance of Mike Shanahan. With recent events, including the firing of GM Ted Sundquist, the spotlight is on Shanny as prepares for what looks to be the most important draft of his tenure. Part of the fun of having a coach like Shanny around so long is we get the chance to look back at past successes and failures. I will be doing that form now until the draft, starting with Shanny's first draft in 1995.
The 1995 Draft was unique for the Broncos, to say the least. The team didn't have a pick until the 4th round, thanks in part to a trade with Atlanta for WR Mike Pritchard. Let's take a look at each pick, and how their career ended up. At the end, I'll grade the draft and give my opinion.
4th Round -- Pick 23(121) -- Jamie Brown, OL(FLorida A&M) -- For a late 4th round selection, Brown was able to last longer than most players in the NFL. Brown played in 38 games in 5 seasons for three different teams in the NFL. Three years in Denver, followed by a season in San Francisco, a one game in 1999 for Washington. Not much more to say about Brown, whose 5 seasons in the league are alot more than many 4th rounders.
4th Round -- Pick 26(124) -- Ken Brown, LB(Virginia Tech) -- The Broncos picked another Brown, Ken Brown, 3 picks later and didn't last nearly as long in the league. Officially, Brown played in 2 games for the Broncos in 1995 and was never heard form again.
5th Round -- Pick 12(146) -- Phil Yeboah-Kodie, LB(Penn State) -- I have never heard of this guy, and few in Denver probably have either. Yeboah-Kodie never played a down as a Bronco, and his limited action in the league was confined to two appearances for the Colts in 1996. Not much value for the Broncos here, either.
6th Round -- Pick 11(182) -- Fritz Fequiere, OL(Iowa) -- This guy might have the best name of anyone ever drafted by the Broncos. Officially he never played in a game in the NFL, and after bouncing around the World League in 96, 97 and 98 Fequiere spent 2001 in the Arena League. I guess Fritz does have one distinction when it comes to the Broncos, the fact that he was drafted the same round as the next guy on our list.
6th Round -- Pick 25(196) -- Terrell Davis, RB(Georgia) -- This is the pick that has defined the Shanahan Era in Denver to date. Davis made a nme for himself right away with a crushing special teams tackle against the 49'ers dring the 1995 pre-season and never looked back. Davis rushed for 1100 yards or more four straight seasons starting that rookie year, and went on to be the NFL MVP in 1998, becoming the fourth running back to rush for 2000 yards in a season. His MVP performance in Super Bowl XXXII is one of legend and helped get John Elway that first ellusive championship. A knee injury in 1999 sparked the beginning of the end for T.D., though he tried valiantly to come back in 2000 and 2001. WHile T.D.'s place in the Hall of Fame is questionable, he'll always be in the Hall of Fame within each and every Broncos' fans' hearts.
7th Round -- Pick 10(218) -- Steve Russ, LB(Air Force) -- Russ, the third linebacker taken by the Broncos in the 1995 draft, spent a little more time than some of the other guys on this list. Hanging around long enough to get into 14 games in 1997, 24 total in his 4 year career, Russ has become another afterthought in Broncos lore.
7th Round -- Pick 14(222) -- Byron Chamberlain, TE(Missouri) -- Lost among all the Terrell Davis talk was the nice little career Chamberlain notched out for himself as a 7th round pick. While Byron was never the focal point of the offense with Shannon Sharpe around, he was still able to grab 32 balls for the Broncos in 1999, and in 2001, after leaving as a free agent for Minnesota, Chamberlain caught 57 passes for 666 yards and 3 touchdowns. Chamberlain ended his career after the 2003 season, spent with the Redskins, and for a 7th round pick was able to enjoy a bit of success.
Guru's Take -- Do we even need to talk about any of these other guys when talking about a draft that netted the Broncos one of the greatest players in team history? The arrival of Terrell Davis has become synonomous with the re-birth of the Broncos and the beginning of their march to two consecutive titles in the late 90's. Include the Chamberlain pick, who was a vital part of the Broncos running game in two-tight end sets, and the 1995 draft has to be considered a huge success. Two intrical pieces when the Broncos didn't have a pick in any of the first 3 rounds. Even with the no-names that round out the list, it was easy to come to a determination on a grade.
Guru 1995 Draft Grade -- A
Let's take a moment and relive that first training camp in Denver for Terrell Davis, thanks to YouTube and NFL Network....