1. Malik Jackson, DE
Draft info: 137th overall selection (5th round) of the 2012 NFL Draft
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Aside from the luck of getting the second overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and Von Miller not being taken first overall, the selection of Malik Jackson in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft is the most fortuitous pick in the John Elway era.
The Broncos started off the 2012 NFL Draft by trading down and out of the first round entirely before stealing Derek Wolfe in the second round.
In their maneuvering, the team doubled up on defensive linemen who were considered ‘tweeners’ in college in Wolfe and Jackson, leading to what would eventually become the best defensive front in the NFL.
As good as Derek Wolfe has been for the Broncos, Jackson has been perhaps an even more dynamic player as a pass rusher though it took him a bit longer to get things going.
His first year in the league was pretty slow going, but as a sophomore, Jackson showed flashes of his potential as an edge player in the Broncos’ defense and exploded in the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
In his final year with the Denver Broncos, Jackson started all 16 regular season games and all three playoff games and finished with 5.5 sacks and the biggest fumble recovery in modern Broncos history.
Jackson picked up Von Miller’s famous strip-sack of Cam Newton in Super Bowl 50 to put the Broncos up 9-0 on the Panthers in a game dominated by defense.
Super Bowl 50 would end up being Jackson’s last game with the Denver Broncos, and he signed on with the Jacksonville Jaguars where he has been stellar, racking up 14.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in his first two years there.
Jackson is a superstar and perhaps second behind only Von Miller as John Elway’s best draft picks with the Broncos.