Denver Broncos: Grading John Elway’s last 5 draft classes

Denver Broncos TE Noah Fant at the NFL Draft. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos TE Noah Fant at the NFL Draft. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Denver Broncos, John Elway
Denver Broncos GM John Elway -USA TODAY Sports /

How good have the Denver Broncos’ last 5 draft classes been?

The rumor is John Elway is not good at drafting quality players for the Denver Broncos. I took a dive into the last 5 draft classes to see if the Denver Broncos General Manager is really as bad at evaluating draftable talent as many believe.

Like any team, hitting on draft picks is not an exact science. If it were easy, we all would do it.

Elway has drafted some talented players who remain with the team, players who have latched on elsewhere, and some players who simply could not cut it in the NFL.

Background on Elway as the Denver Broncos GM

Elway took over as General Manager following the departure of Josh McDaniels ahead of the 2011 off-season.

Former General manager Brian Xanders stayed on staff for the 2011 season as an advisor to Elway but left the team at the end of the year actually.

At the beginning of the 2012 campaign, Elway took over complete control over all football operations for the Denver Broncos.

Since taking over as the head of football operations for the Denver Broncos, the team is 90-64 in the regular season with six postseason wins, two Super Bowl appearances, and one Lombardi Trophy.

However, in the last five seasons, the Denver Broncos have missed the playoffs, and Elway’s contract expires following the 2021 season.

This team is at the crux of a rebuild and there is a lot of pressure for this organization to start winning in 2021.

Elway’s draft philosophy for the last few draft classes

As the 2020 season has come to an end, we can start to look at the 2021 offseason. Before we begin to look at potential free agent fits, or mock draft after mock draft, it is helpful to get context through some historical data.

To give us a picture of how the Broncos are currently constructed, we must look back at how the team has drafted.

The team’s entire drafting history does not paint an accurate picture of their current direction. Elway has adjusted his drafting philosophy, and it was visible between the 2017 and 2018 draft classes.

Elway’s focus has been on drafting team captains and players who have started for their teams for multiple seasons.

I will provide a grade for each of the last five draft classes to give a better sense of John Elway’s track record heading into a crucial off-season for the Denver Broncos franchise.