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Denver Broncos were below average drafters since 1996

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Post wrote up an interesting piece studying every NFL team's draft since 1996 and ranked each team on how well they drafted. The Denver Broncos came in a pedestrian 22nd out of the 32 teams.

Surprisingly, that was second best in the AFC West despite being pretty terrible. It is sort of well known that Mike Shanahan was not the best draft guru and most of his picks are mentioned in the woeful category.

To hammer that point home, of the 161 draft picks over the past twenty years they found that 33 of them didn't play a down, 64 ended up being useless, 17 were poor players, 14 were average, 22 were good and 11 were great.

Now, I have some bones to pick with their grading system as they put Von Miller into the great category, but list J.J. Watt in their legendary category. I would put both guys in the latter category, but perhaps that is my own personal bias showing through.

Another aspect that could be at play for why the Broncos are ranked so low is that their average draft position over the last twenty years has been 20, which means Denver has fielded some good football teams. A low draft position means less available sure-fire talent to choose from.

That said, John Elway's presence should only keep bumping the Broncos up this list. His drafting has been ranked 8th best in the NFL since 2011 by the staff here and his innate knack for finding undrafted talent and quality free agents has turned this franchise into a perennial superpower.

Since 2011, by my count, Elway has drafted 11 players who either were useless or didn't play a down (several from 2015, so its too early to fully grade their careers), 7 poor players, 8 average players, 8 good players, 3 great players and one legendary player.

Here's to Elway continuing this trend in the 2016 NFL Draft.