There has been much made about the fact that the Denver Broncos failed to sign a first round draft pick until 1967 when they landed RB Floyd Little. Little was just the first of many first round picks that we have come to know and love. RB Bobby Anderson, TE Riley Odoms, LB Randy Gradishar, CB Louis Wright, G Tom Glassic, S Steve Atwater -- these are just a few of the names that come readily to mind when we think about the players Denver has picked in the first round. Yes, I did leave out John Elway since he was not drafted by the Broncos.
But what about the last man drafted? Is that the sound of crickets? Not too many names leap to mind. What about these players -- Denver's version of Mr. Irrelevant. How did those final picks fare and did any of them go on to be impact players as a Bronco?
Take a jump and find out.
There were nine players drafted after Denver's inaugural season. Six never played in the AFL, nor in the NFL. Three ended up playing for a combined 22 seasons for other NFL teams (two of them had accepted draft bids from NFL teams during the time that the AFL was competing with the NFL for talent).
|1961||30||233||Dave Mills||HB||NE Missouri St||Never played|
|1962||34||266||Steve Stonebreaker||LB||Detroit Mercy||Played 1962-68 for Minnesota, Baltimore Colts and New Orleans|
|1963||29||229||Kern Carson||HB||San Diego St||Played 1962-65 for New York Jets and San Diego|
|1964||26||201||Bob Berry||QB||Oregon||Played 1965-75 for Minnesota and Atlanta|
|1965||20||153||Terry Metchner||G||Albion||Never played|
|1966||20||175||Cliff Hysell||T||Montana St||Never played|
|1967||17||425||Wayne Valley||T||Oregon St||Never played|
|1968||17||438||Steve Grady||RB||USC||Never played|
|1969||17||425||Buster O'Brien||QB||Richmond||Never played|
There were ten players drafted as the last pick of the Broncos in the 1970s. Eight of these players never played in the NFL. One player played a combined nine seasons for three different NFL teams. One player played three seasons for the Broncos (see below for his statistics).
|1970||17||427||Frank Kalfoss||K||Montana St||Never played|
|1971||17||425||Jack Simcsak||K||Virginia Tech||Never played|
|1972||17||420||Lou Harris||RB||USC||Never played|
|1973||17||425||Kenneth Morgan||TE||Elon||Never played|
|1974||17||432||Boyd Brown||TE||Alcorn St||Played 1974-76 for Denver. Appeared in 40 games with 0 starts. Returned 6 kicks for 97 yards. Caught 1 pass for 14 yards.|
|1975||17||433||Lester Sherman||RB||College not specified||Never played|
|1976||17||474||Randy Cozens||DE||Pittsburgh||Never played|
|1977||12||324||Scott Levenhagen||TE||Western Illinois||Never played|
|1978||11||305||Lacy Brumley||T||Clemson||Never played|
|1979||12||325||Dave Jacobs||K||Syracuse||Played 3 seasons between 1979 and 1987, 1 season each for New York Jets, Cleveland and Philadelphia|
Out of the ten last picked players in the 1980s, eight never played in the NFL. The other two played a combined 24 seasons for the Broncos (see below for their statistics).
|1980||11||297||Phil Farris||WR||North Carolina||Never played|
|1981||12||321||Mandel Robinson||RB||Wyoming||Never played|
|1982||12||327||Brian Clark||G||Clemson||Never played|
|1983||12||310||Karl Mecklenburg||LB||Minnesota||Played 1983-94 for Denver. Appeared in 180 games with 141 starts. Recorded 79 sacks, 5 interceptions, 16 forced fumbles, 14 fumble recoveries, 2 fumbles returned for touchdowns, 1104 tackles, 14 assists, 1 safety. Was a Hall of Fame semi-finalist in 2012.|
|1984||12||326||Murray Jarman||WR||Clemson||Never played|
|1985||12||334||Dan Lynch||G||Washington St||Never played|
|1986||11||301||Thomas Dendy||RB||South Carolina||Never played|
|1987||12||334||Tyrone Braxton||DB||North Dakota St||Played 1987-93 for Denver then again from 1995-99. Appeared in 165 games with 132 starts. Recorded 3.5 sacks, 34 interceptions, 4 interceptions returned for touchdowns, 8 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries, 746 tackles, 74 assists.|
|1988||12||332||Johnny Carter||DT||Grambling St||Never played|
|1989||12||320||John Javis||WR||Howard||Never played|
Only one out of this collection of ten last picks never played in the NFL. Three went on to play a combined eleven seasons for other NFL franchises while six logged a combined 25 seasons for the Broncos (though to be accurate, 20 of those 25 seasons were logged by just two players).
|1990||10||275||Anthony Thompson||LB||East Carolina||Played 1990 for Denver. Appeared in 10 games with 0 starts and no recorded statistics.|
|1991||11||284||Shawn Moore||QB||Virginia||Played 1992 for Denver. Appeared in 3 games with 0 starts. Completed 17 of 34 passes for 232 yards with 0 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Was sacked 6 times and recorded 39 yards rushing on 8 scrambles. He fumbled 3 times.|
|1992||12||334||John Granby||WR||Virginia Tech||Played 1992 for Denver. Appeared in 4 games with 0 starts and had no recorded statistics.|
|1993||8||210||Brian Stablein||WR||Ohio St||Played 1995-00 for Indianapolis and Detroit|
|1994||7||281||Tom Nalen||C||Boston College||Played 1994-07 for Denver. Appeared in 194 games with 188 starts. Caught 1 pass for -1 yard in 1997.|
|1995||7||222||Byron Chamberlain||TE||Wayne St||Played 1995-00 for Denver. Appeared in 73 games with 0 starts. Caught 72 passes for 964 yards with 3 touchdowns. Only fumbled twice.|
|1996||7||236||Brian Gragert||P||Wyoming||Never played|
|1997||4||124||Cory Gilliard||DB||Ball St||Played 1997 for Cincinnati|
|1998||7||219||Nate Wayne||LB||Mississippi||Played 1998-99 for Denver. Appeared in 16 games with 0 starts. Recorded 2 sacks, 8 tackles, 2 assists, 1 forced fumble.|
|1999||7||238||Justin Swift||TE||Kansas St||Played 1999-02 for Philadelphia and San Francisco.|
Four of the ten players picked last by Denver between 2000 and 2009 never played in the NFL. The other six played a combined 17 seasons for the Broncos.
|2000||7||246||Leroy Fields||WR||Jackson St||Never played|
|2001||6||190||Kevin Kasper||WR||Iowa||Played 2001-02 for Denver. Appeared in 14 games with 5 starts. Returned 29 kicks for 765 yards.|
|2002||7||231||Monsanto Pope||DT||Virginia||Played 2002-05 for Denver. Appeared in 48 games with 21 starts. Recorded 6 sacks, 3 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, 49 tackles and 13 assists.|
|2003||7||235||Ahmaad Galloway||RB||Alabama||Never played|
|2004||7||250||Bradlee Van Pelt||QB||Colorado St||Played 2005 for Denver. Appeared in 3 games with 0 starts. Completed 2 of 8 passes for 76 yards. Scored 1 rushing touchdown.|
|2005||7||239||Paul Ernster||K||Northern Arizona||Played 2005-07 for Denver. Appeared in 18 games with 0 starts. Recorded 85 punts for 3516 yards and a 41.4 average.|
|2006||6||198||Greg Eslinger||C||Minnesota||Never played|
|2007||4||121||Marcus Thomas||DT||Florida||Played 2007-11 for Denver. Appeared in 76 games with 34 starts. Recorded 1 sack, 2 interceptions, 4 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, 106 tackles and 44 assists.|
|2008||7||227||Peyton Hillis||FB||Arkansas||Played 2008-09 for Denver. Appeared in 26 games with 8 starts. Rushed 81 times for 397 yards, a 4.9 average, with 6 touchdowns. Caught 18 passes for 198 yards with 1 touchdown.|
|2009||7||225||Blake Schlueter||C||TCU||Never played|
There have been three players drafted thus far in the 2010s. One has never played in the NFL. One has been on Denver's roster but made no appearances thus far. One was just drafted.
|2010||7||232||Jammie Kirlew||DE||Indiana||Never played|
|2011||7||247||Jeremy Beal||DL||Oklahoma||On roster in 2011 but no appearances|
|2012||6||188||Danny Trevathan||OLB||Kentucky||has yet to be decided|
These were the last players picked by the Broncos since their inception in 1960. Many have disappeared into the mists of the non-NFL world. A few have risen up to make an impact as a Bronco. All of them deserve to be remembered.