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The Greatest Denver Bronco Team: Wide Receiver

Lionel Taylor
Lionel Taylor

Two down, plenty more to go. The MHR Greatest Bronco team of all time shapes up like this so far:

Quarterback: John Elway

Backup: Jake Plummer

Running Back: Terrell Davis

Wide Receivers (3):

It is now time to find out who will be catching passes. Wide Receiver is a hard player to judge and the top three receivers will be getting the nod to be on the squad. You need to vote for who you thought was the best and I will use that to reflect the votes of who was the best. Here are the candidates:

ROD SMITH - 1995-2006

Rod Smith was undrafted and signed as a college free agent. After being released by New England, the Broncos signed him. He appeared in 183 games and started 158. He was selected to 3 Pro Bowls in 2000, 2001, and 2005. He was the only undrafted player to ever surpass the 10,000 yard mark. He is 15th in NFL History in receptions and 16th in yards. His first NFL Catch was a 43 yard touchdown against the Redskins. He had 8 1000+ receiving yard seasons and 2 100 reception seasons. He was a large part of both Broncos Super Bowls. He has more catches yards and touchdowns than any undrafted receiver anywhere. Multiple surgeries ended his career.

Bronco Stats:

849 Receptions

11389 Yards, 13.4 YPC

68 Touchdowns

HAVEN MOSES - 1972-1981

Haven Moses was a 6'2, 208 pound receiver. He was drafted 9th overall by Buffalo in 1969. Moses spent 5 years with Buffalo and was then traded to Denver for receiver Dwight Harrison in 1972. Moses went to the Pro Bowl in the next season. In 10 years with Denver, he started 127 of 140 games. Moses was inducted into the Broncos Ring of Game in 1988.

Bronco Stats:

302 Receptions

5,450 Yards, 18.0 YPC

44 Touchdowns

ED McCAFFREY - 1995-2003

Ed McCaffrey was drafted by the New York Giants in the 3rd round (83rd overall) of the 1991 NFL Draft. He played 3 years with the Giants from 1991-1993. In 1994, "Easy Ed" played for the San Francisco 49ers and won the first of 3 Super Bowl Rings. The following year, McCaffrey shadowed Mike Shanahan all the way to Denver, where he stick around for 9 years. Ed was known for going across the middle with his great route running helping the Broncos win back-to-back championships in 1997 and 1998. McCaffrey broke his leg in 2001 against the Giants. He rebounded in 2002 with 69 catches. Due to injuries, he hardly played in 2003 and retired in 2004. He went to the Pro Bowl once in 1998. He is 4th in career receptions for the Broncos, 4th in receiving yards, third in touchdowns.

Bronco Stats:
462 Receptions,
6200 Yards, 13.4 Yards,
46 Touchdowns

LIONEL TAYLOR - 1960-1966

Lionel Taylor was an undrafted rookie signed by the Bears. He was unhappy playing only a special teams role and then joined the Broncos in the AFL in 1960. Lionel began as a 4th string receiver. He played catch with Frank Tripucka, who was an assistant coach. Tripucka was forced to take the starting job after poor quarterback play. With a confidence vote from Tripucka, Taylor was moved to the starting spot at Split End. His results were immediate. He had 92 catches that led the AFL along with 12 touchdowns and an All-Pro season. In 1961, Taylor because the first player in pro football to have 100 receptions in a season. The success continued as Lionel Taylor led the AFL in receptions for the next six years.Lionel was the Broncos’ MVP 3 times (1963, 1964, and 1965). He was an inaugural member of the Ring of Fame, the AFLs all time reception leader and in the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.

Here is something interesting from the "By The Numbers Series."

Compared to the rest of Pro Football at the time, Taylor was on his own level. Between 1960 and 1965, only 10 players caught more than 300 passes. Only 2 caught more than 400. Art Powell recorded 405 receptions, 22 more than the next player, and 60 more than the great Raymond Berry, but Lionel Taylor eclipsed them all, catching a preposterous 508 passes, a full 103 more than Powell. Those 508 receptions during that 6 season span, were a record that stood for 30 years until Sterling Sharpe notched 540 receptions between 1989 and 1994. Even though Taylor's record was broken by Sharpe, the fact that Taylor was playing in 14, not 16 game seasons in the 1960s, meant that he actually played in 14 fewer games over his 6 seasons, yet only recorded 32 fewer receptions. Here is another fact. It wasn't until Anquan Boldin hit 300 receptions in just 47 games in 2006 that Taylor's pace to 300 catches was bested. That's a record that stood for more than 40 years.

Taylor joined the Oilers in 1967. After two seasons of not a lot of playing time, Taylor retired.

Bronco Stats
543 Receptions
6872 Yards, 12.7 YPC
44 Touchdowns

STEVE WATSON - 1979 - 1987

Watson was undrafted and signed by the Broncos in 1979. He played in 126 games and started 87. His first couple seasons did not amount to much only getting 12 receptions between the two but in 1981 he was voted to the Pro Bowl. He had 3 1000+ receiving yard seasons. He played in 9 post-season games for the Broncos including two Super Bowls. After his retirement, he was an assistant coach for the Broncos. He was the receivers coach from 2003-2006. He was an associate head coach from 07-08.

Bronco Stats:
353 Receptions
6112 Yards, 17.3 YPC
36 Touchdowns

MARK JACKSON - 1986-1992

Jackson was drafted by Denver in the 6th round in 1986. He appeared in 100 games starting 68. He was a part of 11 playoff games including three Super Bowls. He was part of the titled "Three Amigos" receiving group. Jackson might not have the numbers that jump out but is known for being the one who caught the game-tying touchdown from Elway on "The Druve" in the 1987 AFC Championship game.

Bronco Stats:
276 Receptions
4746 Yards, 17.2 YPC
24 Touchdowns

VANCE JOHNSON - 1985-1995

Johnson was drafted in the 2nd round by the Broncos in 1985. He was a smaller receiver only being 5'11. He started 81 games and appeared in 128. he played in 12 post-season games for the Broncos including three Super Bowls. he was another part of the "Three Amigos" group with Mark Jackson and Ricky Nattiel. His best season was in 1989 when he got 76 catches for 1027 yards.

Bronco Stats:
415 Receptions
5695 Yards, 13.7 YPC
37 Touchdowns

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