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Stories Behind the Numbers: Part II

Posted May 12, 2013

A look at why the Broncos' day-three draft picks chose their new jersey numbers.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When you're a third-day draft pick, your choice of numbers can be limited. Not only have veterans had their picks, but the selections ahead of you have, as well.

And the NFL's restrictions on numbers for positions also play a role. That's what defensive end Quanterus Smith learned when all of the numbers in the 90s, the usual choice for defensive linemen, were taken. The last available one, 92, had gone to first-round pick Sylvester Williams, who wore that jersey in college.

Smith's number at Western Kentucky, 93, belongs to 2011 draft pick Jeremy Beal. So the fifth-round pick ended up with No. 69; if he wears that in the regular season, he will become the first Broncos defensive lineman to wear a jersey in the 60s since Dewayne Robertson and John Engelberger did in 2008.

"I didn't pick the number, they just told me they had 60 through 79, I told them I'd take whatever -- well, I told them I'd take anything between 60 and 69," Smith said.

Until the last decade, numbers from 10 to 19 were largely off-limits for wide receivers, who were shoehorned into the 80s. That restriction has loosened up, although fifth-round wideout Tavarres King found that No. 12, which he wore at Georgia, was now the property of veteran receiver Andre Caldwell, who changed from No. 17 this offseason.

A bond with fellow ex-Bulldog wide receiver Marlon Brown, who signed with Houston as an undrafted free agent, led King to take No. 15.

"It's funny, I used to wear 15 in practice every day, I used to switch jerseys with Marlon Brown," King said. "No. 12 wasn't available, so I was like, 'I can rock 15. It's nothing new to me.' So, 15 it was."

Sixth-round offensive lineman Vinston Painter has already changed numbers. He was initially issued No. 77, but changed to No. 70 after defensive end Malik Jackson shifted to No. 97 this week.

No. 77 had no sentimental value to Painter -- but No. 70 did.

"I picked 77 because it was one of the numbers available. I thought it was a pretty good number," he said. "But once 70 opened up, my old high school number, they asked me did I want it and I felt as though since I'm back in orange and blue -- my old high-school colors (at Maury H.S. in Norfolk, Va.) -- I might as well go back to the high-school number, too."

Seventh-round quarterback Zac Dysert simply took his college number -- No. 4 -- and divided it in half.

"They (the Broncos' equipment staff) gave me about four numbers to pick from and [No.] 2 was the best for me," Dysert said. "I liked it the best, so I went with it."


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