Terrell Davis. Shannon Sharpe. Steve Atwater. Randy Gradishar. Tom Jackson. Karl Mecklenburg. Tom Nalen. Louis Wright. Lyle Alzado. Rick Upchurch.
They are some of the best players to ever don a Broncos uniform. None were picked higher than the 14th overall selection in the NFL draft, and one was picked as late as the 310th overall selection in the 12th round.
Not coincidentally, they are all up for consideration to be named one of the 75 Most Valuable Draft Picks in league history.
Fans can vote on NFL.com now — voting ends April 18 — choosing between pairs of players randomly generated from a list of 320 all-time most valuable draft picks as chosen by NFL.com editors. After choosing the winners of 30 random matchups, fans can begin to build their own Top 10 list, and continue voting from there to alter their top 10.
Afterwards, you can share your lists and head-to-head winners on Facebook. So when you’re done voting, be sure to share your lists on the Broncos’ official Facebook page.
Following the conclusion of the fan vote, picks 11 through 75 will be announced from April 19 to April 22 on NFL.com and NFL Network. The top 10 greatest Draft picks then will be revealed during the 2010 NFL Draft. The top 10 will be announced during the first round of the draft, which begins Thursday, April 22 at 5:30 p.m. MST. The actual order of the top 10 will be revealed at the conclusion of the second round of the draft on Friday night.
Speaking of the draft, NFL.com recently released its list of the top undrafted players of all time.
Among the names is Willie Brown at No. 5. Brown was signed by the Broncos as a free agent in 1963 and played 50 games in his four seasons with the club. He intercepted 15 passes in Denver — nine of which came in his rookie season — and was named the outstanding back in the AFL All-Star game in January 1965. Now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Brown spent most of his career with the Oakland Raiders after being traded in 1967.
The next notable Bronco to make the list is Cornell Green at No. 10. He spent his playing career with the Dallas Cowboys after being named a two-time All-American basketball player at Utah State. He didn’t play any college football, but went on to snag 34 career interceptions and earn seven trips to the Pro Bowl. He played cornerback for his first 10 years in the league and switched to safety for his final four, making the Pro Bowl at each position.
Where do the Broncos come in, you ask? Green began scouting for the Cowboys as an active player in 1970, and continued to do so for nine years before entering private business. But in 1987, Green came to the Broncos as a scout. In 2010, he enters his 31st year scouting in the NFL and his 24th season doing so for the Broncos. He has been a scouting consultant for the past six years for the club, and has scouted the Southwest, South, East and Midwest regions throughout his career with the Broncos.
Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Saccomano wrote a blog about Green earlier this season, as the Broncos were preparing to play the Cowboys.
But there’s one more Bronco on the list of the top undrafted players of all time — Rod Smith. He made the top 50, as he is the all-time leading receiver among undrafted players.
And finally, while we’re on the topic, just ran across something that was posted in the offseason last year, but just wanted to post it again here in case you missed it. NFL.com put together the “ultimate” first-round draft class, picking only the best players to ever be selected at a certain spot.
For example, John Elway was voted the best No. 1 draft pick of all time. Others receiving votes included Peyton Manning, Bruce Smith, Earl Campbell, Terry Bradshaw and Chuck Bednarik.
The Broncos had two more players mentioned on the list — Steve Atwater received votes as the best No. 20 draft pick of all time, but lost out to former Packers tackle Forrest Gregg, and Randy Gradishar was up for consideration as the best No. 14 pick of all time, but lost out to former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly.
Just some fun updates to get excited for the upcoming NFL Draft, which runs from April 22 to April 24. The first round will be held Thursday, April 22, rounds 2 and 3 will be on Friday, April 23 and rounds 4-7 will close out the draft on Saturday, April 24.
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com
Tags: Cornell Green, John Elway, Karl Mecklenburg, Louis Wright, Lyle Alzado, NFL Draft, Randy Gradishar, Rick Upchurch, Rod Smith, Shannon Sharpe, Steve Atwater, Terrell Davis, Tom Jackson, Tom Nalen, Willie Brown