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NFL Draft: Top Ten Denver Broncos Draft Busts - #3 Willie Middlebrooks

The Denver Broncos have had their share of ups and downs in the NFL Draft.  Over the next few weeks, we'll look at the highest of highs and lowest of lows.  We'll start with the Top-10 Draft Busts in Broncos history, followed by the Top-10 Draft picks in team history.  Agree or disagree, this will help us pass the time as we march full-steam ahead towards the 2011 NFL Draft.

After taking a couple of slots off from the Mike Shanahan era, we are back with a vengeance today, and I'm sad to say we may not be leaving anytime soon.  Shanny's X's and O's genius was often overshadowed by one thing - his personnel decisions, especially when it seemed he felt a need to find the next Terrell Davis, or next Mike Anderson.  His 'hits' with those players made every pick seem like Shanny wanted to show how smart he was - how he knew more and better than anyone else.  The next pick is a perfect example.

#3 - Willie Middlebrooks, CB - Minnesota(2001, 1st Round, 24th Overall)

One year after drafting cornerback Deltha O'Neal, Mike Shanahan went to the well again, this time selecting Middlebrooks out of Minnesota.  The problem was, Middlebrooks was hurt most of his senior season and did very little leading up to the Draft.  In other words, this was another example of Mike Shanahan taking a chance on a player with potential, but huge risk as well.

Middlebrooks was an average DB and a below average school who had missed a significant amount of time because of an ankle injury to boot.  Middlebrooks had decent size, at 6-1, 200, but doesn't have great speed, nor great cover skills.  His career showed as much, with Middlebrooks fighting injury most of his rookie year.  

He was active 43 of the next 48 games, playing mostly special teams.  After the 2004 season the Broncos traded Middlebrooks to the 49'ers for DE John Engleberger.  Middlebrooks saw action in only 5 games for a team that was absolutely horrible in 2005.   I think you get the point.  After the 49'ers released Middlebrooks, the Broncos re-signed him, giving him a second chance to do anything with his career.  It just wasn't to be, and Middlebrooks finally ended up in the CFL in 2008 playing for the Toronto Argonauts.  If his on-field play wasn't bad enough, Middlebrooks got into trouble off of it as well, pleading guilty to an assault charge in February 2006.  Career stats - 56 games, 74 tackles, 1 sack, ZERO interceptions.  Great value.

Another player picked in the first round that ended up finding success in another football league all together.  Be it Marcus Nash in the AFL or Middlebrooks in the CFL, picks like this have cost the Broncos.  Big Time.

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