The year: 1998
The Broncos were coming off a season which had seen them finish 13-3-0 to capture not only the AFC West title, but also the #1 seed in the AFC for the playoffs. They sat out Wild Card Weekend and saw the Jacksonville Jaguars (in just their second season) upset the Buffalo Bills 30-27 to move into the Divisional round. Denver played host to the upstart Jaguars and all of Broncos Country expected John Elway and the Broncos to make short work of Jacksonville. Denver jumped out to a 12-0 lead after one quarter but trailed 13-12 at the half. The Jaguars extended that lead to 23-12 and held on to win 30-27. The Broncos were determined to improve an already solid team.
So, with the 28th pick of the 1997 NFL Draft, Denver selected a 6' 5", 295lb, DT/DE out of Clemson named Trevor Pryce.
Pryce had spent his first two college years at the University of Michigan before transferring to Clemson in 1996. He declared for the NFL draft following his junior season. The Broncos picked him with the 28th overall pick.
Pryce spent nine years in the orange and blue. He appeared in 121 games with 114 starts. During his first five seasons, he was listed on the depth chart as the right defensive tackle. He spent three of his last four years in Denver listed as a defensive end.
During his time as a Bronco, Pryce recorded 64 sacks, 2 interceptions, 9 passes defensed, 9 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries -- one which was returned for a touchdown, 249 tackles, 68 assists on a tackle and 1 safety.
Pryce was voted to the Pro Bowl, as a Bronco, four times (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002) and was voted to the First Team All-Pro in 1999.
A herniated disc in his lower back required surgery in 2004 and he missed most of that season.
Pryce was allowed to explore his options as a free agent in 2006 and signed with the Baltimore Ravens that year.
Thanks for all the great memories, Trevor.
A footnote: other notable Broncos draftees from the bottom quarter of the first round include: Tim Tebow (#25, 2010), Tommy Maddox (#25, 1992), Steve Sewell (#26, 1985), Ricky Nattiel (#27, 1987), Don Latimer (#27, 1978), Marcus Nash (#30, 1998) and Al Wilson (#31, 1999).