30 greatest Denver Broncos players of all time

Who are the best players to ever suit up for the Denver Broncos?

John Elway, Denver Broncos
John Elway, Denver Broncos / dee Welsch/GettyImages
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8. Steve Atwater, S

An absolute punishing hitter, Steve Atwater played for the Broncos from 1989 through 1998. Under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, Atwater was used in run support near the line of scrimmage and had more than 100 tackles in each of his first four seasons, as well as five of his first six.

He had 1,125 tackles in 10 years for Denver (he’s third all-time in solo tackles for the franchise with 1,038) but also knew how to find the football in coverage. Atwater racked up 24 interceptions in his career and returned one for a touchdown.

After helping the Broncos win two Super Bowls, Atwater signed with the New York Jets in 1999. He never looked right in their uniform and signed a one-day contract to retire as a Bronco after that year.

7. Rod Smith, WR

Rod Smith has the honor of being the best wideout to ever play for the Denver Broncos. Undrafted out of Missouri Southern, his first NFL reception was a late touchdown in a close win over Washington in his second season. He got more time in Year 2 but took off in Year 3.

The rest, as they say, is history. 

In 14 years with Denver, Smith recorded at least 1,000 yards eight different times. As of 2024, he holds the team record for receptions (849), receiving yards (11,389), and touchdowns (68 receiving, 71 total). He also has the most receptions in a single season (113) and the most playoff receiving yards (860).