Draft Grader: Denver Broncos

Khaled Elsayed takes you into the Bronco's stable of draft picks from 2008-10 and sorts through the good and bad that helped build them into the team of today.

| 4 years ago

Draft Grader: Denver Broncos

In case you haven’t noticed we’ve been going back over the 2008, 2009, and 2010 draft class of each franchise and assigning each pick a grade. Up next? Well that’s the Denver Broncos.

Each pick between the 2008 and 2010 draft classes a grade between +2.0 and -2.0 (in 0.5 increments) that depends upon:

• Where they were drafted
• Their performance
• Their contribution (how many snaps their team got out of them)
• Other factors such as unforeseen injuries and conditions that could not have been accounted for

Let’s take a look at how Denver has drafted.


+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round

Some will tell you that they got a sixth-round talent in the first.


+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!

No chance.


+1.0: The scouts nailed it!

Ryan Clady, LT (12th overall pick in 2008): After a frankly terrible 2011, Clady rebounded in some style to finish fourth overall in our 2012 left tackle ratings. A fine pass protector, Clady hasn’t always imposed himself in the run game but he’s proven to be the player the Broncos had hoped to draft.

Demaryius Thomas, WR (22nd overall pick in 2010): Thomas has had to overcome some injury problems and some poor QB play. When he was finally given a top-level quarterback to play with he really shined. Our second-ranked receiver in 2012, Thomas is in danger of moving up a category if he continues his play.


+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor

Spencer Larsen, LB/ FB (183rd overall pick in 2008): Something of a jack of many trades, Larsen is one of the league’s worst lead blockers, but has proved to be a valuable special teamer over the years. Thus far he’s contributed more than you’d expect out of a sixth rounder.

Peyton Hillis, RB (227th overall pick in 2008): Blame the McDaniels regime for not getting the most out of Hillis. As a rookie, he was extremely productive when injuries forced the Broncos to rely on him, picking up a +9.6 grade in his 355 snaps. Unfortunately, the new regime wasn’t a fan and he played just 84 more snaps before being traded away. A waste of talent, though through his efforts as a rookie and getting something in return via trade, more than you normally get out of a seventh round pick.

Zane Beadles, G (45th overall pick in 2010): How quickly things can change. Beadles was on his way to bustville after two disappointing years in the league. Then along came 2012 and his game jumped to a whole new level where he earned a +11.2 grade. Beadles should now be a fixture on this line for a long time to come.

Eric Decker, WR (87th overall pick in 2010): Like Thomas above, Decker got a chance to show what he was capable of when a better quarterback came into town. After two years of so-so play he produced a 1,064 yard season and earned a +7.4 grade in the process.


0.0: It could have been worse

Eddie Royal, WR (42nd overall pick in 2008): His breakout rookie season never really developed into a consistent career at the receiver spot, making Royal something of a disappointment as a receiver. He did save himself with some electric work as a returner but is now no longer with the team.

Kory Lichtensteiger, G (108th overall pick in 2008): A perfect fit for the zone blocking scheme the Broncos ran, his usefulness went out of the window when the Broncos canned Shanahan.

Jack Williams, CB (119th overall pick in 2008): It never really worked out for Williams who was cut loose after 192 snaps with Denver. You wonder if he wouldn’t have been pushed so far down the McDaniels depth chart if not for one particularly crazy trade.

Ryan Torain, RB (139th overall pick in 2008): Injuries really limited what he could do with Denver, with new coaches not prepared to take a chance on him getting healthy. Torain has since shown a lot of talent but proven to be quite fragile.

Carlton Powell, DT (148th overall pick in 2008): Another one of the players whose face didn’t fit in with new management. Cut a year after being drafted.

Josh Barrett, S (220th overall pick in 2008): Looked out of his depth when he got on the field as a rookie, and while he stuck around, was eventually let go when injured.

David Bruton, S (114th overall pick in 2009): Hasn’t developed into a starter, but has a role on the team in providing decent depth and contributing on special teams.

Kenny McKinley, WR (141st overall pick in 2009): Sadly, he took his life after multiple injuries.

Tom Brandstater, QB (174th overall pick in 2009): Was buried on the depth chart after the 2010 draft and eventually released.

J.D. Walton, C (80th overall pick in 2010): The jury is still out on Walton. Two tough years in the league made way to a fine start to the 2012 season before injury curtailed it. If he can build on that start the Broncos may have found their center for the foreseeable future.

Perrish Cox, CB (137th overall pick in 2010): His off the field problems ended a promising Broncos career.

Eric Olsen, C (183rd overall pick in 2010): Waived after a year with the team.

Syd’Quan Thompson, S (225th overall pick in 2010): Looked like the Broncos could be onto something after a promising rookie year. Thompson then missed all of 2011 with a torn Achilles tendon and could struggle making the roster under a coaching staff that isn’t invested in him.


-0.5: That pick was not put to good use

Knowshon Moreno, RB (12th overall pick in 2009): Mike Shanahan doesn’t draft running backs in the first round? “Well, forget that” said Mr. McDaniels who goes out and does so, making all of Denver wish that he’d followed in the footsteps of his predecessor. Moreno has been a disappointment, not getting on the field enough and rarely testing defenses. Played reasonably well in 2012 but ‘reasonably well’ doesn’t cut it from the 12th overall pick of any draft.

Robert Ayers, DE (18th overall pick in 2009): Has had opportunities to shine in a 3-4 and 4-3 defense but just hasn’t taken those chances. He is now a situational and backup player and seemingly nothing more.

Seth Olsen, G (132nd overall pick in 2009): Waived after a year with the team. Not what you’d expect out of a fourth-round pick.

Blake Schlueter, C (225th overall pick in 2009): Cut before the start of his rookie season, he wasn’t even deemed worth a practice squad spot.

Tim Tebow, QB (25th overall pick in 2010): He definitely helped his team get to the playoffs and win a game there, but then it’s not like that team wasn’t loaded with some talent defensively. A gimmick player selected in the first round, when John Elway took over, he couldn’t get rid of Tebow quick enough.

Jammie Kirlew, DE (232nd overall pick in 2010): Cut before the start of the 2010 season.


-1.0: What a waste!

Darcel McBath, S (48th overall pick in 2009): Viewed as a reach at the time, McBath went on to play just 293 snaps for the Broncos. Even with some good work on special teams, this was a colossal waste.

Richard Quinn, TE (64th overall pick in 2009): Eyebrows were raised when a purely blocking tight end was taken in the second round and understandably so. Quinn would go on to play even less than McBath, registering just 249 snaps in another case of bad overdrafting.


-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!

Alphonso Smith, CB (37th overall pick in 2009): The pick that in some ways defined McDaniels’ frivolous attitude when it came to drafting. He saw him as a first-round talent, so traded away a future first. Yet when he didn’t enter the league playing like one of the league’s best, faith was quickly lost and he was traded away for Dan Gronkowski, a former seventh-rounder. This was the perfect storm in terms of making a pick as bad as it can be, and the sad thing for Smith is he had little to do with it. If you draft a player that you think is a first-rounder, you don’t give up on him after a year.


-2.0: You just drafted the love child of JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!

No Russell/ Leaf hybrids in this draft.


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled


  • Smurf

    Just look at how bad McDaniels drafts were. Not only that, he shipped away our talent(Cutler, Marshall, Hillis), and wasted the picks he got in return. Makes you wonder what could have happened if things went the other way, and what a job Elway and Fox did turning tings around.

    • http://www.facebook.com/BigOdd Charles Stocks

      Honestly one of the worst coaches in the history of the nfl. Doubt he’ll ever get a head coaching job again. He’s better off as BB’s lackey lol. We’ll see how good an OC he really is when Brady retires 😉

  • J

    That ’09 draft is almost historically bad, but you have to give McD credit for 2010. Got D. Thomas, Decker and Beadles. If only he hadn’t picked Tebow…

  • napton

    Man, Moreno just sucks..