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Looking Back at the Broncos Last 10 First Round Picks

Since the 2011 draft the Denver Broncos have made ten first round picks. The results of those picks range from players who never made an impact all the way to a potential future hall of famer. It’s time to take a look back on those picks and evaluate whether or not they were worth it.

Von Miller (2011) LB Texas A&M

Image courtesy of Jack Dempsey

What a way to start off this list. Miller is without a doubt one of the best players in Broncos history. In the nine seasons on the field for the Broncos, Miller has put up some ridiculous stats. In 135 games, Miller has 106 sacks, 26 forced fumbles, and 490 tackles–135 of which for a loss. His iconic number 58 jersey is consistently ranked among the highest selling jerseys in the league. The highlight of his career no doubt came in Super Bowl 50 where he took home Super Bowl MVP by forcing two fumbles and recording two and a half sacks.

 

Sylvester Williams (2013) DT North Carolina

Image courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas

In Williams’ eight year career he never really put up the numbers that you’d expect from a first round pick. In those eight years Williams has played for five different teams, and his sack total isn’t much higher than the number of teams he’s been on. Despite playing in 63 total games Williams has only managed to tally five and a half sacks. All of those sacks came in his first four years in the league with the Broncos. He’s currently a free agent and isn’t likely to sign anywhere. It’s safe to say that this pick didn’t work out.

Bradley Roby (2014) CB Ohio St.

The Broncos drafted Roby with the 31st overall pick in 2014 and he’s certainly met his value. Roby played a roll in the Broncos Super Bowl season in 2015 as part of the “No Fly Zone.” He’s spent his last couple of seasons with the lowly Texans and is seen and their Cb1. In Roby’s time with the Broncos he totaled seven forced fumbles and seven interception. For the value of this pick it was a success.

Shane Ray (2015) DE Missouri

Image courtesy of Isaiah J. Downing

The best way to describe the NFL career of Shane Ray would be short. Ray will go down as another swing and miss by former general manager John Elway. In his four seasons with the Broncos, Ray put up 14 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. The start of his career was very promising. Ray took off in his Sophomore season when he recorded eight sacks and recovered two fumbles. However, that didn’t last long. In his last two seasons in the league, Ray fell off the face of the earth and now plays for the Toronto Argonauts in the CFL.

Paxton Lynch (2016) QB Memphis

A stain on the reputation of the Broncos, Paxton Lynch comes in as the worst player on this list. Lynch only saw the field in five games over his two year career and none of those appearances gave Broncos country any hope. After two years Lynch was waived by the Broncos and it would effectively end his playing career. Short stints in Seattle and Pittsburgh produced nothing and now Lynch is a free agent.

Garrett Bolles (2017) OT Utah

Image courtesy of Isaiah J. Downing

The career of Garrett Bolles has been an interesting one to say the least. Bolles’ career got off to a rocky start. In his first year, he finished second in the league in penalties with 15 and gave up eight sacks. Broncos country was quick to label him a bust and his outlook was bleak, but then out of nowhere something changed. Bolles flipped the switch in the 2020 season and become one of the league’s best left tackles. All of the sudden the tackle position has gone from a weak spot to a strong one.

Bradley Chubb (2018) OLB N.C. St.

Image courtesy of Justin Edmonds

When Chubb is healthy he’s preformed how you would expect a number four overall pick would preform, but that hasn’t always been the case. After a 12 sack rookie season hopes were high, but after a torn ACL in 2019 those hopes had to be placed on hold. Chubb came back for 14 games in 2020 but the production just wasn’t the same. In late May, Chubb had surgery on his ankle which will keep him out of OTAs and Mandatory minicamp. If he can stay healthy the potential is limitless but so far that’s a big if.

Noah Fant (2019) TE Iowa

Noah Fant is a very interesting case. The pros and cons of this pick have been weighed many times over the last two years. On one hand, a tight end being picked in the first round is pricey. On the other hand, though Fant has near wide receiver athleticism so is he really a normal tight end? The most worrying part about Fant is that he doesn’t use that athleticism to his advantage. He creates no separation no matter who’s guarding him. Rookie tight end Albert Okwuegbunam looked far better in limited reps last year putting Fant on the hot seat.

Jerry Jeudy (2020) WR Alabama

Image courtesy of Jack Dempsey

Jeudy’s rookie year in the NFL was fairly quiet considering the hype he got in the draft. However, the blame can’t really be placed on him given the quarterback situation. Jeudy demonstrated that he’s already a polished route runner with sky high potential but some drop issues held him back. He still managed to put up 856 yards and three touchdowns but Broncos country definitely wants to see more out of him.

Patrick Surtain II (2021) CB Alabama

The Broncos latest draft pick of Patrick Surtain at ninth overall has left a divide among fans. Many wanted to see Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields at that spot, but new general manager George Paton decided to pass. All reports from training camp suggest that Surtain has been living up to the hype, but until that season starts we can’t label this pick a boom or bust.

 

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