Over the last 40 NFL drafts there have been 29 instances of an NFL not having a pick in either the first or second round of the draft. Two of those instances are the Denver Broncos - in 1995 and 1986. Removing the teams that didn’t exist there have been 1162 “opportunities” for a team have no picks in the first two rounds, so this has happened 2.5% of the time over the past 40 drafts. While that is more frequent than I would have expected, that is not “fairly common”.
- People being left-handed is fairly common worldwide (11% according to Google)
- People preferring chocolate over vanilla is fairly common (43%)
- People in the US who can’t swim is fairly common (20%)
- People in the India who are vegetarian is fairly common (24%)
Teams having no picks in the first two rounds is not fairly common. Some would say it is fairly UNcommon. That being said, having no picks in the first or second has happened much more frequently in the past few years than it used to. Nine of the 29 instances have come in the last six drafts.
In the 2022 draft the Browns, Raiders, Rams and Dolphins all had no picks in the top 64. The previous season the Texans had no picks in the first or second round. So of the 29 occurrences, five of them have happened in the last two drafts. Additionally the Bears went two straight years without having a pick in the first or second round (2009 and 2010) and the Vikings had no picks in the first two round sin 1990 and 1991.
In 1995 the Broncos did not have a pick until the 4th round when the Broncos took Jamie Brown with the 121st pick in the draft. I have no idea how often a team has no picks in the first three rounds - that’s a completely different study. The 1995 draft was actually a good one for the Broncos despite not picking until the 4th. The Broncos got Hall-of-Famer, Terrell Davis, and Pro Bowl tight end Byron Chamberlain with the 196th and 222nd picks. At this point that is one of the best drafts in history at producing Hall-of-Famers. Besides TD there were four others taken in that draft who are in the Hall - Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, Curtis Martin and Tony Boselli.
In 1986 (when there were 12 rounds), the Broncos first pick in the draft was Jim Juriga who was taken with the 104th pick. Because there were only 28 teams and some had given up their picks for supplemental picks, that 104th pick was actually late in the 4th round (22nd pick in the 4th round). The 104th pick of the 2023 draft is the 2nd pick in the 4th round. The Broncos best draftee in 1986 was Orson Mobley, but we missed out on Seth Joyner and Clyde Simmons and just missed out on Hall of Famer, Charles Haley, who was taken 96th overall. Hindsight is always 20/20 for any draft, though.
Out of curiosity, I went back and looked at some of the instances from the last 20 drafts where other teams didn’t have picks until the 3rd to see if teams still got value from those drafts.
Because you really need three seasons after a draft to evaluate a draft class, we are going to skip the 2022, 2021 and 2020 drafts. Which brings us to the 2019 Bears.
The 2019 Bears used their first pick (74th) to take David Montgomery who has been a solid, but not spectacular, RB for them during his career so far. The rest of their 2019 draft was garbage.
In 2018 two teams were in this boat, the Texans and the Rams. The Texans took safety Justin Reid with their first pick (68th) and he has been a solid starter every year in the league. They also found two replacement-level starters in that draft - TEs Jordan Thomas and Jordan Akins, both of whom have spent one season as a starter.
The Rams in 2018 had 11 picks, despite not picking in the first or second round. They got three multi-year starters in this draft: C Brian Allen, DE John Franklin-Myers and DT Sebastian Joseph-Day. They also got versatile swing tackle Joseph Noteboom who has started 23 games for them over his career.
In the previous draft, the Patriots had no first or second round picks. In contrast to the 2018 Rams, the Pats only had four total picks in 2017. This is similar to the 2023 Broncos who have five. The Pats got one decent player in the 2017 draft, DE Deatrich Wise Jr, who received a second contract from them. Wise has made a career of being a pass rush specialist. He has 24.5 career sacks and 76 career QBhits. There have been a couple of years where he was near the top of the league in pressure rate. That being said, one of the Pats’ picks from 2017 never played a snap in the NFL, OT Antonio Garcia. Garcia bounced around on various practice squads for four seasons before retiring from the NFL. Garcia was taken with the 85th overall pick. It’s fairly UNcommon for players taken in the top 100 picks to never play a snap in the NFL, but it does happen as it did for the Broncos with Carlos Henderson, who was taken 82nd overall in the same draft.
We don’t find another team with none in the first or second until we get back to 2012 when two teams found themselves in that boat - the Faiders and the Saints. The Faiders (commitment to excrement) did get two multi-year starters in that draft - LB Miles Burris and DE Jack Crawford, but neither was good enough for sustained careers. Crawford was in the NFL until 2020, but only started 35 games and finished his career 18 sacks and 40 QBhits over nine seasons. Burris was only a starter for them because of how little talent those Raider teams had. He started 15 games for them in 2012 and 16 in 2014 then he was out of the league. It’s rare for players to go from starting every regular season game to out of the league in one year, but Burris has that dubious distinction.
The Saints in 2012 used their first pick on one-time Pro Bowl DT, Akiem Hicks, who has been a starter for seven NFL seasons. The rest of their 2012 draft was unremarkable other than drafting Nick Toon, the son of former NFL elite WR, Al Toon. Nick retired from the NFL with 21 career receptions (due to concussions, IIRC). That’s only about 500 fewer than his dad.
The last team that we’ll discuss here is the Bears. They had two straight years of no first or second round picks. In 2009 they got three guys who spent two seasons as marginal starters in the NFL - DE Henry Melton, WR Johnny Knox and OG Lance Louis. They did have two picks in the third and two picks in the fourth, but the only decent player that they got in those four picks was Melton. The Bears had 9 picks in the 2009 draft.
In the 2010 they only had five picks but they got three players who had at least one season as a starter in the NFL - DB Major Wright (3 seasons), DE Corey Wooten (1) and OT J’Marcus Webb (4).
With only five picks in the 2023 draft and none until the 67th, how many starters do you expect the Broncos to draft?
This poll is closed