Broncos-Cowboys Features Three of the Class of 2010’s Best WRs


December 23, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) celebrates with wide receiver Eric Decker (back) after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The 2010 NFL Draft will probably always be remembered for the way the Broncos maneuvered the draft board and traded a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round draft pick for Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.

Hindsight, that was one of the best–and worst–picks the Broncos have made. For the two seasons Tebow gave Denver, it was completely worth it and ended up getting us a shot at Peyton Manning, whether directly or indirectly.

But what people won’t remember about the 2010 NFL Draft is where they were when the Broncos drafted Demaryius Thomas with the 22nd overall pick, or where they were when they used one of the picks they acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles to draft Minnesota receiver Eric Decker with the 87th overall pick.

But even though the Tebow selection shocked the football world and stole all the headlines, it’s the picks of Thomas and Decker that are still making an impact in Denver today.

Likewise for the Dallas Cowboys, the 2010 draft produced not only stud inside linebacker Sean Lee out of Penn State but star receiver Dez Bryant, who was pretty much the consensus top receiver going into that particular draft.

Character flaws and a non-blazing 40 time pushed Bryant down draft boards, though I’m not alone in thinking that it seemed like a no-brainer at the time for the Broncos to take Bryant, and for a variety of reasons.

The number one reason being, the Broncos had just traded Brandon Marshall to the Miami Dolphins that offseason, and had nothing at the WR positions. Also, Denver had two first round picks and a ton of flexibility. Third, the Broncos didn’t have any true star offensive players at the time, and needed all the talent they could get. I thought two receivers was an absolute necessity, so why not start things off by taking Dez?

Well, Denver saw more in Demaryius Thomas, and four seasons later, it’s proven to be a wise choice. It’s not that Bryant isn’t a great player–he is developing into one of the best in the NFL–but Thomas is a dominant receiver in his own right, and has the complete package of size, speed, and intangibles. He’s developed into an elite receiver in the league, but when looking back at the 2010 draft, no one really talks about Eric Decker, who might have been a high second round pick had he not missed most of his senior season with an injury.

Decker was taken late in the third round, eight picks before Miami tight end Jimmy Graham, and has turned into an excellent receiver in his own right. Here are some statistical looks at the careers of Decker, Thomas, and Bryant so far in their careers: