RB Floyd Little – 1st Round, 1967
The young Denver Broncos had made five 1st Round picks by 1967. None of them signed with the team following the draft, spurning the high mountain AFL team for bigger markets in the NFL. Tougher still, two of these (Merlin Olsen & Bob Brown) went on to have Hall of Fame careers for other teams.
In the first NFL-AFL combined Draft in 1967, Denver finally got a chance to really swing for the fences. With the 6th overall pick, they called up Floyd Little, a Heisman contender out of Syracuse, a program with a great streak of running backs at this time, from Jim Brown to Ernie Davis.
His response? “Where the hell is Denver?”. Little was expected to go to the New York Jets or Green Bay Packers.
"Then I came to visit in April sometime and the weather was absolutely gorgeous, and I fell in love with Denver. (Tales from the Denver Broncos Sideline, p.36)"
Floyd brought an absolutely dynamic brand of playmaking to Denver. A fluid, shifty runner who could push through arm tackles and add value in the passing game, he made an immediate impact on offense. Little quickly became not just a face of the franchise, but The Franchise himself.
Denver fans hung loyal through some tough years, and this team stuck largely due to Floyd Little’s magical play. He grinded away for years, carrying this offense until the team found continuity at quarterback with Charley Johnson.
With steady play under center, he, and the Denver Broncos finally saw winning seasons for the first time in 1972 and 1973.
Floyd Little was the team’s first All-Pro/Pro Bowl running back in an era where pounding the rock was everything, had the first 1,000-yard rushing season in Broncos history, and was part of the Ring of Fame’s inaugural class.
He’s still 2nd All-Time on the Broncos leaderboards in Rush Yards (6323) and TDs (43), and remains 1st among Denver’s running backs in receptions (215) and receiving yards (2418)
Regardless of what happens this April, the Denver Broncos have a history of hitting home runs with their first-round draft picks.
In 2010, at long last, he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, remembered for his incredible contributions to a young and struggling franchise. Some have even credited his presence in Denver as having kept the team from relocating, so we truly owe his memory our all.
OLB Von Miller – 2011
FS Steve Atwater – 1989
LB Randy Gradishar -1974
WR Demaryius Thomas – 2010