Born Broncos: Dwayne Carswell was a mainstay in the trenches

Denver Broncos v New Orleans Saints
Denver Broncos v New Orleans Saints / Stephen Dunn/GettyImages

In this edition of "Born Broncos," we look at former TE/OL Dwayne Carswell. A 13-year Bronco, Carswell was one of the most trusted blockers of the Shanahan era.

Career stats for Broncos TE/OT Dwayne Carswell

Years Played: 1994-2006

Teams Played For: Denver Broncos

Stats: 192 receptions, 1707 yards, 15 TD's. 1 Pro Bowl appearance (2001). Ed Block Courage Award winner (2005).

Dwayne Carswell was born on January 18th, 1972 in Jacksonville, FL. An all-around athlete, Carswell would display his position versatility from a young age. In high school, Carswell would earn everything from All-District to All-State accolades while playing running back, wide receiver, and safety. Being a two-position stud at that level isn't uncommon, but the fact that he was able to do it at three positions (on multiple sides of the ball) is next level.

Upon completing high school, Carswell would take his talents to Liberty University. As an underclassman, Carswell would focus his time on playing running back. It wasn't until his Junior year that Carswell would transition to the position that would become his bread and butter. In his last two years at Liberty, Carswell was a newly minted tight end, learning the intricacies of the position. In those years, he would log 65 catches for over 500 yards and two touchdowns. While the number wasn't eye-popping, Carswell's athleticism was more than adequate for the pros.

After going undrafted in the 1994 NFL Draft, Carswell would sign as a UDFA with the Broncos. This would begin a long, fruitful marriage between the parties. After spending the bulk of his rookie season on the practice squad, the arrival of Mike Shanahan the following offseason would change the course of Carswell's career.

Under new leadership, Carswell's talents would be elevated. Starting late in the 1995 season, Carswell would become Shannon Sharpe's backup at TE and be a key special teams player. He would continue in this role until 2000 when offensive opportunities were thrust upon him. After spending several years as a key reserve, Carswell would replace an outgoing Shannon Sharpe as the team's starting tight end.

This opportunity would not go wasted, as Carswell quickly made his mark. That season, Carswell would set career highs in all receiving categories (49 catches, 495 yards, 3 TD's). He was part of an offense that may be the most underrated in team history, as the 2000 unit would go on to be 2nd in the league in points scored.

Dwayne Carswell, Game
2003 AFC Wild Card Playoff Game - Denver Broncos vs Indianapolis Colts - January 4, 2004 / Al Messerschmidt/GettyImages

He followed that up with a Pro Bowl season in 2001, notching 34 catches and 4 TD's. This achievement was significant, considering that teammate Desmond Clark was eating into Carswell's targets at the position. It's a good reminder of how far Carswell had come, and what his peers around the league thought of his skills. While 2001 would be Carswell's brightest season, it would end up being his final as an unquestioned starter.

After departing Denver for two seasons, HOF TE Shannon Sharpe came back to the Broncos to finish his career in 2002. This transaction would relegate Carswell to his reserve duties behind the legendary TE.

While Carswell found himself in another backup role, this eventually led to two more unexpected position switches. Before the 2004 season, Carswell would be tried out at offensive tackle, followed by a stint at guard in 2005. As if Carswell's versatility wasn't on display enough, he was occasionally deployed at H-Back and as an eligible goal-line receiver. He would make NFL history during this time, as he was the first lineman to score two TD's in one game. Unfortunately, this would be the last on-field highlight of Carswell's career.

Later in the 2005 season, Carswell would be involved in a car accident. The injuries he sustained would sideline him for the rest of the season. He would recover in time to compete in training camp for the 2006 season, but by that point, the winds of change had blown through Dove Valley.

Carswell would be released at the conclusion of the 2006 camp. Carswell would try his hand at one more pro league, signing with the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League. He would soon be released by the team, ending his football career.

Dwayne Carswell
Denver Broncos vs Jacksonville Jaguars - October 2, 2005 / Al Messerschmidt/GettyImages

Looking back on Dwayne Carswell's career, it's one that's erroneously overlooked. The man played seven (Yes, SEVEN) positions in his football life. He showed such a vast range of position versatility and found a way to excel at most of them. Whether he was a blocking TE, an H-Back, or a goal-line weapon, Carswell found a way to maximize his presence on the active roster.

Stats tell only one side of a football player's story, and Carswell is a prime example of someone that doesn't get enough shine. This man was a great blocker, special teams player, and eventually, a starting player for several great teams.

He also shows the benefit of acquiring and identifying high-upside players from smaller schools. In each draft cycle, analysts will use the term "toolsy" for guys with many physical traits who aren't seasoned or without a set position.

Guys like him are always brought up in draft cycles by different analysts, hoping that they find the right landing spot. Fortunately, Carswell was able to find such a situation. He's also a great example of why scouts are an unheralded part of roster building. Players like Carswell might not have had a chance in the league if an astute scouting department didn't identify him.

Here's a Mile High Salute to you, Dwayne Carswell. Thanks for all of your contributions to Broncos Country!