As Black History Month nears its close, 9NEWS' Mike Klis has picked nine Broncos greats who attended Historically Black Universities and Colleges to shed some light on the talent that often-overlooked schools can still produce.
His top pick, former tight end Shannon Sharpe, entered the league as a seventh-round pick out of Savannah State and proceeded to embark upon a Hall of Fame career. Over his 14 NFL seasons (12 with the Broncos and two with the Ravens), Sharpe was a four-time first-team All-Pro, an eight-time Pro Bowler, a member of the NFL's 1990s All-Decade Team and a three-time Super Bowl champion.
"A 7th-round tweener – a bit too big and therefore not quite fast enough for a receiver, but not quite big enough at 6-foot-2, 228 pounds as a tight end, Sharpe became an H-back in his third season after head coach Dan Reeves noticed he was a mismatch against linebackers and strong safeties," Klis wrote. "Sharpe's career took off. Arguably the funniest, most outsized personality in Broncos history, Sharpe finished his career as the all-time NFL leader among tight ends with 815 catches, 10,060 yards and 62 touchdown[s]. (He is still No. 4 in those categories, behind only Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten and Antonio Gates)."
The next two Broncos on the list are also Ring of Famers. Defensive back Billy Thompson and defensive end Rich "Tombstone" Jackson helped shape the Broncos' reputation as a home for great defensive players in the late '60s and into the '70s, and were it not for a knee injury, Jackson could very well have ended up in a gold jacket, like Sharpe.
"There was a three-year period from 1968-70 when 'Tombstone' rivaled Deacon Jones as the best pass-rushing defensive linemen in pro football," Klis wrote. "In fact, in Dr. Z's NFL All-Century Team that was published in 1999, Reggie White, Jones and Jackson were his three defensive ends. 'In his prime, he was the very best run-pass defensive end the game has seen,' Zimmerman wrote of Jackson."
Barney Chavous, Willie Brown, Al Denson, Steve Wilson, Goldie Sellers and Hewritt Dixon round out Klis' list.
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In his second mock draft of the year, NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah has projected a new name to land in Denver: Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II.
"Johnson continues to check every box," Jeremiah wrote. "He followed up a productive fall with a dominant week at the Senior Bowl. Denver could draft a QB but there are veteran options available."