Outside of first-round picks which can be retained by their drafting team for five (or more if franchise-tagged) years, all other players who are drafted get a four-year NFL contract. These contracts are set by draft spot (unlike how it was long ago when rookies could negotiate their contracts).
Most of the players drafted in 2019 had their contracts expire at the end of last season and are (or were if they have signed already) free agents. The Broncos drafted six players in 2019. None of them will be on the team in 2023 (unless Dalton Risner takes a vet minimum deal to return to Denver as a backup). With the exception of Drew Lock, all of them played at least a few snaps last season, even Juwann Winfree, who played 35 offensive snaps for the Packers (and had one catch).
If you look back at the 2018 Bronco draft, we find that five of ten Bronco draftees from that draft were still actually taking snaps in the NFL in 2022. In fact the Broncos' first five picks were, while the last five picks were not. So that seems like a fairly successful draft: no true busts, but also no late-round gems.
While this is only two years, I wanted to look back at previous drafts to see how the Broncos compare to the rest of the league.
To answer that, I pulled down the draft data for the entire league from each draft year going back to 2009. Why only go back to 2009 - Because I got lazy and didn’t want to got back to 2008 (or beyond), but also I realized that most players from the 2009 draft or earlier are no longer in the league. There were only four players drafted in 2009 who were still playing in 2022.
If you look at the “TO” column in the draft data it shows the last season where a player took snaps. For players like Lock, who were on a roster but didn’t play, they would not have counted as playing into 2022, but for ease of data gathering, I will discount those guys who show 2021 or less as their “TO” year.
If you do this analysis you get the table below
The Ravens and the Bengals have the most players still in the NFL that they drafted with 34 while the Jets have less than half of that with only 16. The Broncos are tied with a number of teams who had 23 (tied for 27th or 21st depending on your bent).
Two things to remember about this analysis
- This does not factor in undrafted free agents (they are hard to track because there is no database of un-drafted players signed by a given team by year - other than the spreadsheet that I have created over the years).
- This does not look at return on draft capital. Because of how bad they have been over this entire timespan, the Jets have probably had the most draft capital to spend and they have done the least with it (by this analysis). Contrast that with a team that has consistently won like the Patriots (t-8th) who have probably had close to the least (if not the least) draft capital to spend.
The Broncos had 89 total picks from 2009 to 2022 and 23 of those (26%) were still taking snaps in 2022. Since there were so few players in the league from before the 2011 draft (only about 25 in 2022) let’s focus on 2011 to 2019.
Below is the “success rate” by franchise, looking at percentage of guys they drafted 2011 to 2019 who were still taking snaps in the NFL during the 2022 season.
This tells about the same story that the previous data did. The Broncos were not very good at drafting AND developing players while John Elway was the GM. Elway’s first draft was essentially 2012. His last draft was the 2020 draft.
If you want a view of the draft capital involved you can look at how many picks by round each team has had during this timespan (below)
The Broncos have had eight first-round picks during these nine drafts which is average. The Chiefs have had the least with six while the Vikings have had the most with 14. The Broncos are tied with two other teams for the most second-round picks with 12.
I find it interesting to see which teams see little value in Day 3 picks and which teams buy as many lottery tickets as they can on day three. The Saints only had 29 day three picks over these nine drafts while the Seahawks had more than double that with 62.
What does this look like for the Broncos? See the table below for all 69 picks and the 23 who were still playing in 2022.
Guys with a blank in the “from” column never played a snap in the NFL. The Broncos had six of those which is bad, but not the worst. I wrote about this in the past (but I can’t seem to find that URL at the moment)
How would you grade the Bronco drafts from 2011 to 2019 inclusive relative to the rest of the league?
This poll is closed