11 players who had better success after leaving the Denver Broncos
4. Peyton Hillis, RB (7th round pick, 2008)
Most notable NFL team: Cleveland Browns
Peyton Hillis has been making headlines lately for much more important things than football. He recently saved his son and niece from drowning and fought for his own life after the fact. He survived, thank goodness, and although he says he was just being a dad, most everyone sees him as a true hero for his actions.
When he was in the NFL, Hillis was the epitome of a fan favorite. The Madden video game franchise allowed fans to vote for the player on the cover of the 2011-12 version of the game, and Hillis was voted in by the masses. It was absolutely amazing.
He was exciting for the Denver Broncos as one of the team's 85 running backs used in 2008, but Josh McDaniels traded him for Brady Quinn and Hillis immediately racked up over 1,600 yards from scrimmage in his first year with the Browns.
Although Hillis would never match that same success, it was still so frustrating to see him go elsewhere and flourish, because Broncos fans knew the team was sitting on that kind of gold mine. Josh McDaniels didn't.
5. Eddie Royal, WR (2nd round pick, 2008)
Most notable NFL team: Chargers
Drafted by the Denver Broncos in the second round back in 2008, Eddie Royal's NFL career got off to a roaring start as he absolutely torched the (then) Oakland Raiders in his first NFL game. Royal was outstanding in his first couple of seasons for Denver, but like many other players on the list, he was drafted by Mike Shanahan and ended up crossing over into the Josh McDaniels era, although Royal was pretty heavily targeted in his second year under McDaniels.
It was John Elway who didn't retain Eddie Royal and he went on to have a really good career with the (then) San Diego Chargers. He had nine touchdown catches in his four seasons with the Broncos combined, and he had 16 touchdowns in three seasons with the Chargers. After his time with the Chargers, Royal joined the Bears (who on this list didn't?) and he was a strong return man even until his final year in the league where he had a return touchdown in 2016.
Although the price may not have been right, it would have been interesting to see what Peyton Manning could have done with Eddie Royal in the mix of that 2012 offense had the Broncos found a way to bring him back.