Photos: Broncos' five best -- and five worst -- draft picks of all-time
With the 28th choice in last night's NFL draft, the Denver Broncos selected Sylvester Williams, a defensive tackle from North Carolina seen here.
We won't be certain for years if this was a wise decision or a terrible one -- but we've already got a mighty good idea which players should be ranked as the best and worst picks of all-time.
Look below for our top five in both categories and re-experience the agony and the ecstasy.
Fifth Worst Pick of All-Time: Tim Tebow
Let's start with some controversy right out of the tunnel. Yes, Tebow provided Broncos fans with some absolutely heart-stopping moments during the squad's logic-defying 2011-2012 run and first-round playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. But he was chosen with the 25th pick in the 2010 draft's first round, when no other team appeared to be interested in taking a chance on him until the third or fourth. A first rounder is supposed to be part of the squad for years and years and years, yet after a brief, crazy burst, Tebow is already gone, and sitting on someone else's bench. Fifth Best Pick of All-Time: Tom Jackson
Jackson has been a staple on ESPN for so long that it's easy to forget just how great a player he was. And he really came out of nowhere: When the Broncos picked him in the fourth round of the 1973 draft, no one expected that he'd be a four-time All Pro and three-time Pro Bowl selection who'd last long enough to link the Orange Crush years to the John Elway era. And since becoming a broadcaster, he's been a terrific symbol of the team's legacy. Continue to keep counting down the Broncos' five best and five worst draft of all-time.
Fourth Worst Pick of All-Time: Tommy Maddox
Maddox, out of UCLA, was chosen in the first round of the 1992 draft mostly as a way for then-head coach Dan Reeves to show how mad he was at John Elway. But Elway was nowhere near done with his career, as he would prove to glorious effect over the next several years, leaving Maddox nothing to do but collect dust. Hence, the draft choice was a colossal gaffe for all involved -- and while Maddox subsequently had a pretty decent stint with the Steelers, as seen in this photo, he was a waste of space in Denver. Fourth Best Pick of All-Time: Tom Nalen
Nalen was the opposite of heralded in advance of the 1994 draft, which explains why he was still around in the seventh round for the Broncos to nab. But the center anchored the line for well over a decade, during a period when Denver seemingly could get anyone who was ambulatory 1,000 yards in a season. He also went to five Pro Bowls and was the 2003 offensive lineman of the year -- not to mention a guy with a really great hairstyle. Continue to keep counting down the Broncos' five best and five worst draft of all-time.
Third Worst Pick of All-Time: Maurice Clarett
True, the Broncos only used a third-round choice to secure Clarett's services in 2005. But any pick for Clarett was foolish, since he was clearly damaged goods -- a great college player already on the road to destruction. He wound up being cut during training camp, clearing the way for a series of off-the-field arrests and embarrassments epitomized by the mug shot seen here. Third Best Pick of All-Time: Shannon Sharpe
Sharpe was a seventh-round pick in 1990 -- a no-expectations slot that he exploded in short order. He was instrumental in revolutionizing the tight end position, becoming one of John Elway's favorite targets and securing his enshrinement in the NFL Hall of Fame. And like Jackson, his media presence helps keeps the spotlight on Denver throughout the NFL. Continue to keep counting down the Broncos' five best and five worst draft of all-time.
Second Worst Pick of All-Time: Jarvis Moss
Moss was a first round pick out of Florida (Tim Tebow's alma mater) in 2007, and he was supposed to return the Broncos' pass rush to its former status as one of the most feared units in football. Instead, he made no impact when he was healthy, which wasn't all that often, and his attitude appeared to get progressively worse during his time with the team. A big -- make that really big -- bust. Second Best Pick of All-Time: John Elway
These kinds of lists tend to spotlight great players chosen in lower rounds -- and Elway certainly doesn't qualify under that criteria, since he was the overall first pick in the 1983 draft, obtained from Baltimore.
By the way, we should have mentioned originally that Elway's inclusion here is a bit of a stretch, but not a big one. In the trade with the Colts, with whom Elway refused to play (and never did), the Broncos gave up their number one pick in 1983 (Chris Hinton) and their number one pick the next year (it'd turn into Ron Solt), plus quarterback Mark Hermann. Sorry for the oversight.
Still, Elway is an undeniable example of money (and draft picks) well spent, bringing Denver to five Super Bowls and winning two, as well as providing fans with very good-to-excellent football for sixteen years. And now, as an executive, he's returned the Broncos to prominence. That's a bargain any way you slice it.
Continue to keep counting down the Broncos' five best and five worst draft of all-time.
Worst Broncos Pick of All-Time: Marcus Nash
Nash was drafted in the first round of the 1998 draft and was expected to be a terror of a wide receiver. But during his first year, he only played eight games and caught just four passes for 76 yards. In year two, he played in just two games and caught nothing but the cold chill of disappointment from Broncos' loyalists. He was subsequently traded to Miami, which dealt him to Baltimore. By 2003, he was in the Arena Football League. Grim. Best Pick of All-Time: Terrell Davis
Davis was a sixth-rounder out of Georgia, and while his career was cut much too short because of injury, his handful of great seasons still makes him a possible Hall of Fame candidate. Moreover, he's the reason why the Broncos finally won two Super Bowls -- the only two in franchise history so far.
That's a lot to live up to, Sylvester Williams. Good luck.
More from our Sports archive: "Remember when the Broncos were good? Davis, Atwater and Mecklenburg nominated for HOF."
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