The Denver Broncos have the 2nd overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft, and there is a good chance they will use that pick to select one of the 3 top-rated defensive linemen available. Marcell Dareus out of Alabama, Nick Fairley from Auburn, and Da’Quan Bowers from Clemson all figure to be top-ten picks. So if history is any indication, what are the odds that one of them will be an impact player for the organization if drafted by the Broncos?
Since Mike Shanahan was hired prior to the 1995 season, the Broncos have selected 20 defensive linemen in the NFL Draft. 12 of those players were defensive ends and 8 were defensive tackles. 3 of those picks were taken in the 1st round, 3 were taken in the 2nd round, and the rest were selected in the 3rd round or later. Out of the 20 draft picks, the following 10 players have had substantial careers in the league, and that includes 5 of the 6 players taken in the 1st and 2nd rounds.
- Trevor Pryce – 1997, 1st round, Clemson
- Montae Reagor – 1999, 2nd round, Texas Tech
- David Bowens – 1999, 5th round, Western Illinois
- Reggie Hayward – 2001, 3rd round, Iowa State
- Nick Eason – 2003, 4th round, Clemson
- Elvis Dumervil – 2006, 4th round, Louisville
- Jarvis Moss – 2007, 1st round, Florida
- Tim Crowder – 2007, 2nd round, Texas
- Marcus Thomas – 2007, 4th round, Florida
- Robert Ayers – 2009, 1st round, Tennessee
The 3 names that really stand out are Pryce, Dumervil, and Ayers. Trevor Pryce played in Denver for 9 of his 14 seasons (and counting), and won 2 Super Bowl rings with the Broncos. He was selected to the Pro Bowl 4 times from 1999-2002, and he has compiled 91 sacks, 2 interceptions, 12 forced fumbles, 336 solo tackles and 106 assists. Elvis Dumervil has played his entire career with the Broncos and recently signed a 6-year extension after being named 1st-team All-Pro in 2009 and leading the league in sacks. He was sorely missed in 2010 when he was lost for the season due to an injury, and he should be a star in Denver for years to come. Robert Ayers has only played 2 seasons for the Orange & Blue, but he played well in his 10 starts during the 2010 season before being injured. Ayers is in line for a breakout season in 2011 (if games are played), and he could be a big part of the rebuilding process on the defensive side of the ball.
Also of note, Montae Reagor played in Denver for 4 seasons before winning a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts in 2006, and Nick Eason won a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2008.
The other 10 Broncos defensive line draft picks since 1995 did not pan out. However, all but 1 of those players were drafted in the 3rd round or later. The 3 players that were chosen in the 1st round over that span (Pryce, Ayers, and Moss), are all still in the league and making an impact. That may bode well for the Broncos if they decide to use the 2nd overall pick on one of the highly-touted defensive linemen available.
Make sure to follow Predominantly Orange on Facebook.