Denver Broncos: Top 15 first-round draft picks of all time

Von Miller, Denver Broncos. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Von Miller, Denver Broncos. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) /
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Here it is — the epitome of elite linebacker play. Of all the first-round linebackers who have excelled for Denver over the years, none made a more memorable impact than Randy Gradishar, the heart and soul of the “Orange Crush” defense.

Honestly, it’s a bit baffling Gradishar hasn’t yet found his way into the Hall of Fame. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler, six-time All-Pro and is often considered among the greatest linebackers to ever play the game. Although he’s currently in the Broncos’ Ring of Honor, it doesn’t do justice to the immense impact he made in Denver.

Gradishar was a fearless leader for the Broncos, serving as the best player on a defense that also included Wright, Steve Foley and Tom Jackson. He led the way for Denver to make its first playoff appearance as a franchise in 1977, which included a Super Bowl appearance that culminated in a tough loss to the Cowboys.

Many would make a case for Gradishar as the greatest defender in Broncos history. Although the No. 1 player on this list also plays defense, it shouldn’t take anything away from the truly great career that Gradishar had.