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The Denver Broncos 11th Round Draft History

I started this project as a way to make the offseason doldrums pass and to search for a success rate for each round that the Broncos participated in. I felt the need to find a point from which we could make expectations out of each round in the draft. What follows is the results of the Broncos history of the 11th round in the NFL Draft.

Success can be measured many ways and I am sure just about everyone has an opinion on that definition. The only solid point I found as a starting point was a chart that former Broncos General Manager Ted Sundquist listed on his site The chart was developed by Chad Reuters of NFL Draft Scout and is as good place as any to begin from. The metric he states for having a successful draft pick is, 56 starts by the player’s fifth season. Now that cold be true for the first 3 or 4 rounds, but if a 7th round pick’s success rate is only 1.5%, then an 11th round pick shouldn’t have any reasonable chance of making it through Training Camp should he?

Between the years 1967 (AFL-NFL merger) and 1993 (the Draft shortened to 7 rounds), the Denver Broncos selected 24 players.

None of the Broncos picks were Pro Bowlers or All-Pros. One player (3.7%) was the primary starter for 3 years and one was the primary starter for one season. The top four players were:

  • WR Larry Brunson - 3 yrs as primary starter, 79 games, 14 starts.
  • RB Gene Lang - 1 yr as primary starter, 89 games, 20 starts.
  • WR Cedric Tillman - 52 games, 9 starts.
  • DB Richard Shelton - 44 games, 8 starts.

15 of the Bronco players drafted did not suit up for a regular season game (62.5%).

For the rest of the league, there were 709 players drafted in the 11th round in recent (1967-93) NFL history.

None were All-Pros, but 5 made the Pro Bowl at least once.

  • DB Elbert Shelley - 4x Pro Bowls, 119 games.
  • T Howard Ballard - 2x Pro Bowls, 10 yr starter, 170 games, 154 starrts.
  • C Jesse Sapolu - 2x Pro Bowls, 10 yr starter, 183 games, 154 starts.
  • C Kendall Gammon - 1x Pro Bowl, 234 games.
  • QB Doug Flutie - 1x Pro Bowl, 4 yr starter, 92 games, 66 starts.

28 were the primary starter for 2 or more years.
20 were the primary starter for 3 or more years (2.8%).
14 were the primary starter for 4 or more years.
7 were the primary starter for 5 or more years.

Other notable players who were drafted in the 10th round are: Raleigh McKenzie, Mike Saxon, Dwayne Harper, Brad Baxter, Richard Harvey and Chad Hennings.

11 made 56 or more starts (1.5%) and four made 128 or more starts.
20 played in at least 100 or more games.
6 played in at least 150 or more games.
2 played in at least 200 or more games.

174 players never suited up for a regular season game (24.5%).

So to conclude, there hasn’t been an All-Pro player (post merger) drafted in the 11th round. A small handful of players were Pro Bowlers (0.7%), but none of them were drafted by the Broncos. The only other measurables we are able to compare against each other, are the 3 year primary starters -- Broncos (3.7%) , NFL (2,8%) and the washout rate -- Broncos (62.5%) NFL (24.5%).

Perhaps those figures are directly responsible for the shortening of the entire draft down to seven rounds beginning in 1994.

Go Broncos!

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