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30 Picks in 30 Days - The 1981 NFL Draft - S Dennis Smith

We continue our countdown to the 2009 NFL Draft with 30 Picks in 30 Days, Day #2.  The 1981 Draft for the Broncos wasn't rich on quantity, but did have tremendous quality in their 1st Round pick, #15 overall Dennis Smith.

Playing in one of the best defensive backfields in the history at USC, Smith was collegiate teammates with Ronnie Lott and Joey Browner. Lott and SMith were first round picks in 1981, Browner a 1st rounder in 1982.  Ironically, both Lott and Browner are NFL Hall of Famers.

It didn't take long for Smith to make an impact in the NFL.  Quickly establishing himself as one of the League's hardest hitters, Smith was feared and revered for his play.



A ferocious hitter, Smith was voted to play in six Pro Bowls (following the 1985- 86, 1989- 91 and '93 seasons), was named All- NFL four times (1985- 86, '89 and '93), was named All- AFC four times (1984- 86, '98) and played on three Broncos Super Bowl teams (XXI, XXII, XXIV).

He was also named the club's Most Inspirational Player in 1992. Smith ranks fourth all- time in games played by a Bronco (184), fifth in games started (170) and sixth in both career interceptions (30) and interception return yards (431).

He is one of just three players in the history of the Broncos franchise to play at least 14 seasons with the club, behind John Elway (16) and tied with Tom Jackson. Smith's career totals include 1,171 tackles (794) and 14 sacks. He posted a career- high five sacks in 1983, a career- high five interceptions in '91 and a career- high 120 tackles in '92.

Perhaps my greatest memories of Smith are in regards to the way he passed the torch to another hard-hitting safety - Steve Atwater.  That type of leadership has been a huge void for the Broncos and remembering players like Smith remind us all just how great the Broncos Greats truly are.