Denver Broncos: Top 15 first-round draft picks of all time
If you thought Smith was a wide receiver’s worst nightmare, then Steve Atwater was the nightmare forcing its way into reality and scaring the will out of anyone who dared enter his zone. Seriously, the Broncos’ superstar safety was that good at inflicting pain.
Known by many as one of the hardest-hitting safeties in NFL history, Atwater feasted on the fear of opposing receivers. It wasn’t just pass catchers that had to worry about the Denver’s devastating hammer in the secondary. One his most memorable hits came on Christian Okoye, a massive Kansas City Chiefs running back commonly referred to as the “Nigerian Nightmare.”
It wasn’t just his hitting that earned him this spot on the list, though. Like Smith, Atwater also excelled at making plays on the football in the air. Even if he wasn’t actually physically deflecting the pass, his presence in the defensive backfield was more than enough to make receivers think twice about coming down with the football.
When his career was over, Atwater had amassed eight Pro Bowl selections, three All-Pro selections and two Super Bowl rings. He’s already in the Broncos’ Ring of Honor, and is one of the top snubs of the Pro Football Hall of Fame up to this point.