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Broncos Draft History: Linebackers

Posted Mar 24, 2011

A look back at the linebackers the Broncos have selected in the NFL Draft.


As we wrap up our week's preview of the linebackers available in the 2011 NFL Draft, let's take a look back at who the Broncos have drafted at the position.

Player: D.J. Williams
Year Drafted: 2004
Round: 1 - 17 Overall
College: Miami (Fla.)

Broncos Career: One of the most versatile linebackers in team history, Williams has lined up at every linebacker position over his seven year career in Denver. A starter since his rookie season, Williams has amassed over 100 total tackles in four seasons and was named a Pro Bowl alternate in 2009.


Player: Al Wilson
Year Drafted: 1999
Round: 1 - 31 Overall
College: Tennessee

Broncos Career: Wilson manned the middle linebacker position for the Broncos from 1999-2006 and was a team leader on and off the field. A two-time All Pro and five-time Pro Bowler, Wilson grabbed 560 solo tackles and 21.5 sacks during his time in Denver.


Player: John Mobley
Year Drafted: 1996
Round: 1 - 15 Overall
College: Kutztown

Broncos Career: As a small-school standout, many questioned whether Mobley could transition his game to the NFL. He quickly answered those questions his rookie season, by starting all 16 games and grabbing 61 total tackles. Mobley was an integral part of the Broncos two Super Bowl victories and was named an All-Pro in 1997.


Player: Randy Gradishar
Year Drafted: 1974
Round: 1 - 14 Overall
College: Ohio State

Broncos Career: When you think of linebackers who donned the orange and blue, Gradishar's name is at the top of the list. He concluded his illustrious career as the Broncos' all-time leader in tackles with 2,049 and appeared in 145 consecutive games. The seven-time Pro Bowl selection was named to the team's Ring of Fame in 1989.


Player: Tom Jackson
Year Drafted: 1973
Round: 4 - 88 Overall
College: Louisville

Broncos Career: Known as "TJ" amongst fans and teammates, Jackson is one of the most popular players in franchise history. He finished his 14-year career having played in the most games in Broncos history at 191 and currently stands fourth on that list. The linebacker helped the Broncos to six playoff berths and two Super Bowls. He was inducted to the Ring of Fame in 1992.


Player: Paul Smith
Year Drafted: 1968
Round: 9 - 222 Overall
College: New Mexico

Broncos Career: Although he was drafted as a linebacker, Smith was converted to defensive tackle and had an illustrious career in Denver. A key building block to the "Orange Crush" defense, Smith finished his 11-year career in Denver with 55.5 sacks, which currently ranks seventh all time. In 1986 he was inducted to the Ring of Fame.


Player: Dick Butkus
Year Drafted: 1965
Round: 2
College: Illinois

Broncos Career: Yes, the legendary Chicago Bear Hall of Famer was drafted by the Broncos in the second round of the 1965 AFL draft. But he was also drafted by the Bears in the first round of the NFL draft that same year, and chose to stay and play in his hometown.


Other linebackers drafted:

Year Rd. No. Name College
2010 7 232 Jammie Kirlew Indiana
2009 1b 18 Robert Ayers Tennessee
2008 6 183 Spencer Larsen Arizona
2003 2 51 Terry Pierce Kansas State
2000 2a 40 Ian Gold Michigan
1999 5a 158 David Bowens Western Illinois
1998 7b 219 Nate Wayne Mississippi
1995 4b 124 Ken Brown Virginia Tech
1995 5 146 Phil Yeboah-Kodie Penn State
1995 7a 218 Steve Russ Air Force
1994 2 51 Allen Aldridge Houston
1994 7a 210 Keith Burns Oklahoma State
1991 1 4 Mike Croel Nebraska
1991 3 61 Keith Traylor Central St. (Okla.)

Next week we take a look at running backs and fullbacks.