We are well on our way to the biggest Denver Broncos Draft Success which, as many of you have pointed out, feels a lot better than the biggest Draft Bust list felt a couple weeks ago. So far we have looked at Chris Hinton(#10), Steve Atwater(#9), Elvis Dumervil(#8), Tom Jackson(#7) and Karl Mecklenburg(#6).
Things get tougher now. Needless to say, everyone on the list from this point out is in the Ring of Fame or will be in the Ring of Fame when they are eligible. Like I said with the Biggest Bust list, these guys are interchangeable at this point, so I have no issue if someone thinks Meck should be higher, or another player should be lower.
That said, let's look at #5 on the list, one of the great kickers in NFL history.
#5 - Jason Elam - K, Hawaii(1993, 3rd Round, 70th Pick)
A kicker? Really? I think Jason Elam merits a spot on the list, and I think he merits his position in the Top Ten. Do you ever really notice a kicker until he messes up? Is David Treadwell known for all the kicks he made, or the ones he missed in the AFC Championship Game against Buffalo?
Drafting a placekicker in the 3rd round was unheard of - in a lot of ways it still is. Elam came to the Broncos with that pressure, to live up to the billing of a 3rd round pick, and actually exceeded expectations. During his time at Hawaii, Elam was the 3rd leading scorer in NCAA history(397 points) and was tied for second in field goals made(79). He was the WAC's all-time leading scorer until his record was broken in 2010.
Elam's success continued with the Broncos. Elam was named to three Pro Bowls(1995, 98, 01) in addition to three All Pro selections(95, 98, 01). Elam was a huge part of two Super Bowl Champions, and was named to the Broncos 50th Anniversary Team in 2010. You can't forget the 63-yard field goal Elam drilled against the Jacksonville Jaguars to tie Tom Dempsey's NFL-record, or the infamous 'Toro, Toro' game-winner against Buffalo in 2007.
Elam retired on March 30, 2010 after signing a ceremonial contract with the Broncos. When he retired, no player had scored more points with one team than Jason Elam did with the Broncos. Elam's .995 XP-conversion percentage is tops in NFL history, and his 15 consecutive seasons of 100+ points is also a NFL record. To top it off, Elam was the fastest kicker to achieve 300 field goals, was the fastest to 1600 career points and is the only player in NFL history to score 200+ points against three or more teams(San Diego - 222, Oakland - 215 and Kansas City - 203)
For his career, Elam made over 81% of his field goals, and he's among the best ever from long range. Sure, we can debate the merits of placing Jason Elam ahead of some of the guys below him on the list, but we cannot debate what Elam meant to the Broncos and their incredible success during the 90's and early 2000's.
Time to relive one of Elam's greatest moments, that 63-yard field goal against the Jaguars.
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