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The Broncos' top first-round pick at each position

Look back through Broncos history with these photos of Denver's first-round draft picks who went on to become Pro Bowl players with the Broncos.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos are soon slated to make their first first-round pick since 2021, and they'll look to add another talented player to their roster.

As the team prepares for the 12th-overall selection, the crew got to thinking: Who is the Broncos' best Round 1 pick at each position?

We looked back at the Broncos' 60-plus years of draft choices and whittled the options down to compose the following notes.

One caveat: A player who is drafted by the Broncos but did not play for the team wasn't eligible for our list. Apologies to Chris Hinton.

Here, then, is our list of the Broncos' top Round 1 selections:

[Editor's note: The following selections are the opinion of the author.]


Jay Cutler (2006, 11th overall)

The Broncos have drafted just four quarterbacks in the first round and their history, and Cutler stands out. Cutler spent just three seasons with the Broncos, but he made a Pro Bowl in his final year in Denver. The Vanderbilt product threw for 25 touchdowns and more than 4,500 yards in 2008. Tim Tebow was also considered for his late-game heroics, but Cutler's Pro Bowl nod makes the difference here. John Elway, of course, is ineligible to be selected, as he joined the Broncos via trade.


Floyd Little (1967, 6th overall)

No competition here, as "The Franchise" is the clear choice. A Hall of Famer, Little left an indelible legacy in Denver that began with becoming the first first-round pick to sign with the Broncos instead of an NFL team. His No. 44 is one of three numbers retired by the team, and he is often credited as the reason the Broncos remain in Denver. Otis Armstrong, with a pair of Pro Bowl nods, also deserves recognition in this category.


Demaryius Thomas (2010, 22nd overall)

The late Broncos wide receiver is the easy choice at this position, as he earned five Pro Bowl appearances and ranks second in Broncos history in most career receiving categories. Thomas was the catalyst of one of the most memorable wins in franchise history — a playoff overtime victory over the Steelers — and a consistent performer who recorded 35 touchdowns from 2012-14.


Riley Odoms (1972, 5th overall)

A four-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro, Odoms ranks second among tight ends in franchise history in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Only 10 players in franchise history have spent more seasons with the team than Odoms.


Ryan Clady (2008, 12th overall)

The Broncos currently feature a former second-team All-Pro tackle who was drafted in the first round in Garett Bolles, but we'll tip our cap here to Ryan Clady. A two-time first-team All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler, Clady was a dominant left tackle for the Broncos and protected Peyton Manning's blind side for a pair of seasons. Injuries held him out of the Broncos' two Super Bowl appearances with Manning, but the Boise State product still made an impact in Denver.


Tom Glassic (1976, 15th overall)

Few interior offensive linemen have been selected in the first round, but Tom Glassic is our pick as the best of the bunch. A 1976 All-Rookie Team selection, Glassic started 92 games over his eight-year career and started all 17 games in the Broncos' 1977 run to Super Bowl XII.


Trevor Pryce (1997, 28th overall)

A rookie during the Broncos' initial Super Bowl-winning season, Pryce started 15 games for the team that went back-to-back in 1998. He then earned four consecutive Pro Bowl nods and a first-team All-Pro nod in a terrific stretch from 1999-2002. With a nine-year career in Denver, Pryce proved himself as a force on the defensive line and twice reached double-digit sack totals in a season.


Von Miller (2011, 2nd overall)

The highest pick in Broncos history, Miller is the easy choice here. He willed the Broncos to a Super Bowl 50 win and ranks first in franchise history in sacks. Miller got off to a fast start by earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2011 and proceeded to make the Pro Bowl in eight of his first nine seasons in Denver.


Randy Gradishar (1974, 14th overall)

A member of the most recent Pro Football Hall of Fame class, Gradishar was the backbone of the famed Orange Crush defense and earned Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1978. Denver's all-time leading tackler, Gradishar earned seven Pro Bowl nods and two first-team All-Pro selections in his 10 seasons with the Broncos.


Louis Wright (1975, 17th overall)

A Broncos Ring of Famer who was a second-team 1970s NFL All-Decade Team selection, Wright was among the first true lockdown cornerbacks. He twice earned first-team All-Pro honors and was a five-time Pro Bowler during his 12-year NFL career that he spent entirely in Denver. Wright's 26 interceptions rank in the top 10 in franchise history. Pat Surtain II may someday take this spot, but for now we're sticking with Wright.


Steve Atwater (1989, 20th overall)

Our Hall of Fame coworker is an easy choice here. Atwater delivered the most famous hit in Broncos history when he crushed Christian Okoye, and he helped the Broncos earn back-to-back Super Bowl titles. A 2020 Hall of Fame inductee and member of the 1990s NFL All-Decade Team, Atwater was known for his punishing style of play. While the Broncos also found a great player in the first round in Dennis Smith, Atwater is the clear selection to round out our list.

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