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The Denver Broncos and the NFL Draft: 2003

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Continuing on with our countdown to the 2012 NFL Draft by looking at the Denver Broncos recent draft history, we come to the year 2003. Now 5 years removed from their back to back championships, the team has seen one playoff appearance (2000) and a combined record of 34 - 30. The Broncos would make it to the Wildcard game in 2003, but let us see how they ended up in 2002 to begin the narrative.

The Broncos finished the 2002 campaign with a 9 - 7 record, missing the post season. The Oakland Raiders won the AFC West with an 11 - 5 record and made it to the AFC Championship game on the strength of an MVP year by Quarterback Rich Gannon. Mike Shanahan was going into his 9th season as head coach. The Broncos 7th ranked Offense was lead by Running Back Clinton Portis (1,508 yds, 15 TDs) and Wide Receivers Rod Smith (89 Rec, 1,027 yds, 5 TDs) and Ed McCaffery (69 Rec, 903 yds, 2 TDs). But Quarterback Brian Griese had an average year and couldn’t take the team to the playoffs.
Defensively the Broncos were 15th overall in the league. Linebacker Al Wilson (132 TKLs, 5 SKs) and Defensive Tackle Trevor Pryce (46 TKLs, 9 SKs) were the Broncos only Pro Bowl selections, though LB Ian Gold (100 TKLs, 6.5 SKs) and Bertram Berry (6.5 SKs in a part-time role) had pretty good years too. Cornerback Deltha O’Neal had five of the Defense’s nine Interceptions of the season and took two to the house.

Here are the Broncos’ selections in the 2003 NFL Draft.

Round Overall Pick Player Position School
1 20 George Foster Tackle Georgia
2 51 Terry Pierce Linebacker Kansas St.
4 108 Quentin Griffin Running Back Oklahoma
4 114 Nick Eason Defensive Tackle Clemson
4 127 Bryant McNeal Defensive End Clemson
5 157 Ben Claxton Guard Mississippi
5 158 Adrian Madise Wide Receiver TCU
6 194 Aaron Hunt Defensive End Texas Tech
7 227 Clint Mitchell Defensive End Florida
7 235 Ahmaad Galloway Running Back Alabama

George Foster appeared in one game his rookie year, sitting behind Left Tackle Ephraim Salaam while he made his adjustment to the Pro game. Foster became the Broncos starting Left Tackle in 2004, starting the next 45 of 48 games in his 4-year stint in Denver.

Terry Pierce appeared in 3 games as a rookie and played for 2 seasons with the Broncos. In 18 games, Pierce made 5 Tackles, Forced one Fumble and had one Pass Break Up. His rookie year was marred by a torn pectoral muscle and the next season saw him sprain an MCL. Pierce never got his career on track and was released at the end of the 2005 preseason. He had tryouts for a couple of teams, but his football days were done.

Quentin Griffin was another 2-year career player. As a rookie, Quentin appeared in 10 games with one start. He contributed 345 yards on 94 rushing attempts and 61 yards on 8 receptions. Griffin set a franchise record in 2004 for most rushing yards in a season opener with a career-high 156 yards on 23 carries against the Chiefs. He also scored the first 3 Touchdowns of his career. A torn Right ACL in Week 7 ended his season and career early.

Nick Eason's first season was ended by an Achilles injury. In 2004, he was allocated to NFL Europe and played for the Scottish Claymores. He spent some time on the Broncos practice squad after returning from Europe, but never made a regular season appearance with Denver. He was waived on September 24, 2004. Nick spent the next 3 years in Cleveland along with a 4-year stop with the Steelers. He currently plays for the Arizona Cardinals and has made a decent career as a backup Lineman.

Bryant McNeal never played an NFL game, though he has been a member of the Broncos, Buccaneers and Raiders.

Ben Claxton never played a down for the Denver Broncos, though he was a member of the squad. Claxton appeared in two games in 2005 with the Atlanta Falcons and one game in 2009 with the Arizona Cardinals. he has also been a member of the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pittsburgh Steelers,Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions practice squads or offseason rosters.

Adrian Madise appeared in 11 games as a rookie, his only season in the NFL. Madise returned five kickoff for a 27.4 average, caught 2 passes for 10 yards and rushed for 10 yards on one carry. His longest gain for Denver was an 83-yard kick return.

Aaron Hunt was among the last cuts in Training Camp in 2003 and spent the final weeks of the season on the Arizona Cardinals practice squad. He tried out with the Miami Dolphins in 2004 and was again cut in Camp. After re-signing with the Broncos in 2005, Hunt played for the Hamburg Sea Devils in NFL Europa before yet again being waived near the end of Broncos Training Camp. He has since carved out a career in the CFL, claiming Rookie awards with the B.C. Lions. Aaron currently plays for the Montreal Alouettes.

Clint Mitchell was a member of the Broncos roster as a rookie, but never saw the field. He played for the Amsterdam Admirals (NFL Europe) in 2005 and was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2006, but again, never saw the field. Mitchell ended up playing for the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League in 2007.

Ahmaad Galloway was forced to sit out during the 2003 season due to a knee injury he suffered during his senior year at Alabama. Mike Shanahan was enamored with Galloway's potential and expected him to be their future workhorse. When he regained his health, Ahmaad was sent to the Scottish Claymores to prepare for the 2004 NFL season. Galloway did well in NFL Europe, but he was traded to the San Diego Chargers. He was then released from the Chargers in 2004.

The Denver Broncos finished the 2003 season with a 10 - 6 record, losing the Wildcard game 10 - 7 at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts. They were led by Free Agent acquisition Jake Plummer at Quarterback and Pro Bowl seasons by Clinton Portis and Al Wilson.

The Broncos 2003 Draft class produced 25 game appearances and one start out of the entire class in 2003. All together, this group produced 82 starts (mostly Foster) in 217 games, an average of 22 games per player for their career. 4 players didn't even make the team and out of the other six, only two made any sort of livelihood in the league; George Foster and Nick Eason. And Eason made it elsewhere. This was not a very good draft at all and may have been the start of Mike Shanahan's decline in the Mile High City, though he would continue as Denver's head coach through 2008.

Go Broncos!

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