Draft mania continues in the NFL among the millions of fans, with countless stories being produced by local and national press.
I thought we might take a slightly different perspective on the draft today.
Most of the attention centers, rightly so, on the first, second and third rounds of the NFL draft, since that is where the best known players are most often selected.
But I was thinking, who are the greatest late round draft choices in Broncos history?
Following is my perspective on this topic. Thanks again for reading.
Let's take a look at some of these late selections chronologically.
1964—Back then the draft was 26 rounds, and the very last selection by Denver was Oregon quarterback Bob Berry. He was drafted so late because Denver assumed he would sign with the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL (the Broncos were in the AFL). And he did, but The Denver Post said at the time that Denver lost Berry to Minnesota over $200. The Broncos were a bit frugal in those days. Berry played for a full decade and then some in the NFL.
1966—In the 19th round the Broncos selected a young player from Miami (Florida) name Tom Coughlin. He never played here, and did not have a lengthy career on the field. However, he is still active in pro football, and Tom Coughlin has two Super Bowl rings as head coach of the New York Giants, 47 years after being drafted by the Broncos!
1968—Denver used the 357th pick in the draft, in the 14th round, to take a small quarterback from Nebraska (Omaha) named Marlin Briscoe. He had a fine career as a pro football wide receiver, but before making the position change Briscoe was the first black quarterback in pro football's modern era, something he accomplished as a rookie in 1968 for the Broncos.
1983—In the 12th round of the draft—and by this time it was a 12-round draft, so this was our final pick with selection number 310—the Broncos chose Karl Mecklenburg, a relatively obscure defensive end from the University of Minnesota. I vividly remember so many Meck stories, but one of my first memories indicates how unknown he was. We flew all 12 draftees in to meet the press, set them up in our team auditorium and let the press wander from player to player. After we were about two thirds finished, I noticed that not one single person had spoken to this young guy. I approached our local Associates Press writer, whom I knew to be a good guy, and asked him to do me a favor and approach Meck and just pretend to ask him a few questions and take some notes, just so the young player's feelings would not be hurt. In the years to follow, Meck hurt a lot of feelings on the opposition on his way to the Broncos' Ring of Fame. He has reached the final 25 list for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is a legit candidate.
1987—Many pro football fans know about the tradition of the last player taken being referred to as "Mr. Irrelevant." In 1987 the Broncos had the next-to-last pick in the draft, and with the 334th pick, in the 12th round, just one before Mr. Irrelevant would be selected, we took a defensive back from North Dakota State named Tyrone Braxton. A terrific player. He started for the Broncos in both our Super Bowl wins, was with us for two AFC Championship Game wins as well, but most do not realize that while at North Dakota State Braxton was a key fixture on three Division II national championship teams. Seven rings. Not bad for the 334th selection!
1994—This was the first year of the seven-round draft, which continues to this day. After reading the earlier paragraphs the sixth and seventh rounds do not truly seem so late, but, relatively speaking, they are the last two rounds of the present draft. In 1994 the Broncos had a tremendous seventh round. With pick 7a, the 210, Denver chose linebacker Keith Burns from Oklahoma State, an outstanding special teams player and good linebacker who was here for both world titles as a player and then had a fine career coaching here. He now is on Mike Shanahan's coaching staff in Washington. Then, with pick number 7c, number 218 overall, we chose Boston College center Tom Nalen. Nalen was truly a great player, a competitor's competitor, a legitimate candidate for both the Broncos' Ring of Fame and for the Pro Football Hall of Fame as well.
1995—With the 196th overall selection, number 6b for the Broncos, we made the now legendary selection of Terrell Davis. What can you say about TD? Super Bwl MVP, NFL regular season MVP, 2,000 yards rushing in a single season, and seven straight playoff games with 100 yards rushing, all victories. He is simply the only player in history to have done all that and most assuredly is a legit Hall of Fame prospect.
2012—Our sixth round choice last year, number 188 overall, was linebacker Danny Trevathan from Kentucky. Danny made the team and contributed right away last year. The future is impossible to predict, but making the team is how all the other guys on this list started.
Thanks for reading, and we'll continue trying to take a look at the draft from a different angle in future blogs!