Draft Grader: Denver Broncos
Draft season is upon us as free agency quiets down and prospect watch goes into overdrive. But the reality for us is that we’re not that involved in the college side of things, though that doesn’t mean we’re not fans of the draft.
For me, though, that means reflecting back on drafts gone by to tell you which teams made the best picks and which ones the worst. So as I do every year, I’m grading every draft pick from 2009 through to 2011 on the PFF rating scale (-2 to +2), factoring in where they were drafted, injuries, and a host of other things.
Up next? Well we’re moving in draft order so it’s the Denver Broncos
+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round
Not here …
+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!
Von Miller, ER (2nd overall pick in 2011): You expect a very good player with the second overall pick of any draft. But Miller is more than that, arguably developing into the best pass rusher in the entire league. His career grade of +171.6 is stunning in itself.
+1.0: The scouts nailed it!
Demaryius Thomas, WR (22nd overall pick in 2010): It took Thomas a while as he waited for a legitimate quarterback to start throwing him balls. Since then, he’s exploded into a true playmaker, capable of turning screen passes into big games while having the ability to get deep on defenders.
Eric Decker, WR (88th overall pick in 2010): Not the dynamic weapon Thomas would become, Decker nonetheless offered just as much value. Career grade of +21.9 highlighted by two strong years.
Orlando Franklin, OL (46th overall pick in 2011): Has been moved to guard this offseason but was largely the perfect right tackle for the Broncos’ often quick-hitting passing attack. May have been shown up in the Super Bowl but can impose himself in the run game.
+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor
Julius Thomas, TE (129th overall pick in 2011): If he can repeat his 2013 season this grade will be higher. Thomas isn’t the kind of blocker that can be classified as a complete tight end, but is such a threat as a receiver that he’s already paid his selection back.
Virgil Green, TE (204th overall pick in 2011): For a late sixth-rounder to still be contributing warrants acknowledgement. Has managed 801 decent enough snaps in three years while contributing on special teams.
0.0: It could have been worse
David Bruton, S (114th overall pick in 2009): Gets something back for becoming one of the best special teamers in the league, but hasn’t done enough on defense to be worth more.
Kenny McKinley, WR (141st overall pick in 2009): Spent his first year contributing on special teams before committing suicide a year later.
Zane Beadles, OG (45th overall pick in 2010): Too often didn’t live up to his draft slot, despite playing 4,878 snaps (missing just nine the past three years). Has developed the longer he’s been in the league and is by no means a liability, but with a 45th overall pick you might need a tad more to get a positive.
Perrish Cox, CB (138th overall pick in 2010): Impressed in flashes as a rookie but an off the field accusation of sexual assault (which was later disproved) all but ended his career in Denver.
Eric Olsen, OC (184th overall pick in 2010): Sixth-rounder lasted a year with the team before being released.
Syd’Quan Thompson, CB (226th overall pick in 2010): Would ply 217 snaps on defense before missing his entire sophomore season on injured reserve before being released.
Rahim Moore, S (45th overall pick in 2011): Most infamous for his misjudgment of Joe Flacco’s postseason deep ball but Moore isn’t just that guy. Playing a useful 2,387 snaps in three years he’s developed into a solid starter. By no means terrible and about what you’d expect here.
Quinton Carter, S (108th overall pick in 2011): Fourth-rounder who looked out of his depth in his 863 snaps on defense chiefly as a rookie before missing most of his next two years on injured reserve.
Mike Mohamed, LB (189th overall pick in 2011): Spent most of his first two years on the practice squad before being released.
Jeremy Beal, LB (249th overall pick in 2011): Spent two years with the team but had more time on injured reserve than the field.
-0.5: That pick was not put to good use
Knowshon Moreno, RB (12th overall pick in 2009): Finally came around in his fifth year but not enough that it completely washed the stink off his first four. Surprising really that he would feature on 2,496 offensive snaps, but of a 12th overall pick you’d expect a bigger contribution.
Robert Ayers, DE (18th overall pick in 2009): If Ayers had been selected lower this pick may have been better. But he was drafted 18th overall and his output has not been anywhere near where you’d expect a first-rounder to be.
Seth Olsen, OT (132nd overall pick in 2009): Fourth-rounder lasted just a year with the team before being cut.
Tom Brandstater, QB (174th overall pick in 2009): Another who would last just a year with the team before being cut.
Blake Schlueter, OC (225th overall pick in 2009): Didn’t make it to the regular season of his first year, getting cut before the season opener.
J.D. Walton, C (81st overall pick in 2010): Looked to finally get it in 2012 before injury ended his season. Unfortunately that small sample didn’t make up for how poor Walton was in his first two years in the league. Would end his time in Denver with a -43.4 grade.
Jammie Kirlew, DE (233rd overall pick in 2010): Seventh-rounder who wouldn’t make the regular season.
Nate Irving, LB (67th overall pick in 2011): Was expected to land a starting job but injuries and the form of others have limited him to just 404 career snaps on defense. A shame really because as his +5.1 grade would suggest he’s looked good during those snaps.
-1.0: What a waste!
Tim Tebow, QB (25th overall pick in 2010): He led the team to the playoffs and that is the only thing somewhat salvaging this grade. While he was an incredibly erratic passer and the media obsession created numerous issues, he did make plays that were pivotal in the team turning a disastrous season into a winning one.
-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!
Alphonso Smith, CB (37th overall pick in 2009): Not helped by the team trading up for him, Smith would play 151 snaps as a rookie before being traded away for Dan Gronkowski and a selection of magic beans. Seemed rash to give up on him so soon.
Darcel McBath, S (48th overall pick in 2009): 293 snaps out of a second-round safety is in no way good enough. A new coaching staff might mitigate this pick but lasting just two years with the team remains unacceptable.
Richard Quinn, TE (64th overall pick in 2009): Part of the worst second round a team has ever had. Quinn was a blocking specialist who was seen as a reach at the time and would go onto play 247 snaps for the team. Terrible selection.
-2.0: You just drafted the love child of JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!
Here are the teams we’ve covered so far:
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