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Broncos have found past success while making the 15th-overall pick

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —There's a set of expectations that comes with being a first-round pick.

That the selected player will make an immediate contribution. That he'll enjoy a long career with his new team. That he'll be a difference-maker.

No matter whom the Broncos choose to select with the 15th-overall pick, he'll be subjected to that set of standards.

And Denver has done well in past years to find players that will meet them — especially with the 15th selection.

The Broncos have used the 15th-overall pick on four occasions, which is tied with pick No. 20 for the most of any pick in the first round since the AFL and NFL merged their drafts.

Three of the Broncos' four picks at No. 15 played in at least 100 career games and spent their entire careers with the team: Guard Tom Glassic, safety Dennis Smith and linebacker John Mobley.

All three players appeared in Super Bowls for the Broncos, and Smith became a Ring of Famer.

The other pick, cornerback Deltha O'Neal, is a former Pro Bowler.

The combined success of those four players is unmatched by any other pick in team history. No other first-round pick for Denver has generated multiple Pro Bowlers.

The 40th-overall pick is the only other pick to lead to multiple Pro Bowl players for Denver.

Pick No. 20 could soon join No. 15 with that distinction, as Noah Fant was selected with the 20th-overall pick in 2019. Hall of Famer Steve Atwater was also taken in that slot. Pick No. 5 could also join the club if Bradley Chubb returns to form after recovering from his ACL injury. Tight end Riley Odoms, the fifth-overall pick of the 1972 NFL Draft, was a four-time Pro Bowler.

The Broncos, in general, have fared well while picking in the teens (picks 13-19). On 11 occasions, the Broncos have made a first-round pick in that range. Five of those players became Pro Bowlers or All-Pros.

Smith, linebacker Randy Gradishar (14th-overall, 1974) and defensive back Louis Wright (17th-overall, 1975) all ended up as Ring of Famers.

Whether the Broncos find another Ring of Famer — or if they even stay at pick No. 15 — remains to be seen. The history, though, suggests it's quite possible that Denver adds another long-time contributor.

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