Look back through some of the best third-round draft picks in Broncos history, as the franchise has found some of its best players in that range.
When the 2023 NFL Draft arrives in a little more than two weeks, the Broncos are scheduled to make their first selection with the 67th-overall pick.
Yet while Denver lacks a first- or second-round pick, the Broncos still have a chance to add significant talent to their roster. Over the franchise's history, the team has found a number of key contributors later in the draft — and in the coming days, DenverBroncos.com will take a look at some of those selections.
We begin with the third round, where the Broncos are slated to pick twice in this year's draft.
Read on for a look at a few of the franchise's best third-round selections.
Editor's note: The following selections are the solely the opinion of the author and do not represent the organization. Additionally, because it can take time for draft picks to round into form, players are only eligible for this list if they were drafted at least five years ago. The selected players are listed in alphabetical order.
K JASON ELAM (1993, 70th overall)
The leading scorer in the history of the franchise, Elam earned three Pro Bowl appearances for the Broncos across a 15-year career in Denver. The Hawaii product tied a then-NFL record in 1998 as he boomed a 63-yard field goal, and he ended his career having appeared in the most games of any Bronco. The Broncos' career leader in PATS and field goals, Elam scored a point in 263 consecutive regular-season games from 1993-2007. Elam also hold the franchise record for the most career postseason field goals. He was elected to the Broncos' Ring of Fame in 2016.
G PAUL HOWARD (1973, 54th overall)
A longtime stalwart on the Broncos' offense line, Howard started 147 games at guard for Denver during his 13 seasons with the team. During a stretch from 1975 to 1980, Howard started all 71 of the games in which he appeared and missed just five total games during that span. A starter on the Broncos' 1977 team that won the franchise's first AFC Championship, Howard was named to the Broncos' Top 100 team in 2019. Only five players in franchise history spent more time with the team than Howard.
S JUSTIN SIMMONS (2016, 98th overall)
The only active player on this list, the former compensatory pick in 2016 has earned a name as one of the NFL's best safeties. Simmons has earned second-team All-Pro honors on three occasions, and he made the Pro Bowl in 2020. Despite missing five games, Simmons tied for the league lead in interceptions in 2022, and he has recorded the fourth-most interceptions in team history. Simmons ended last season tied with Hall of Famer Steve Atwater for the most interceptions by a safety in Broncos history, and he has snagged multiple picks in all seven of his seasons.
DB BILLY THOMPSON (1969, 61st overall)
A versatile player, Thompson was selected by the Broncos in the late 1960s and eventually helped Denver enjoy its first true success in franchise history. A member of the Orange Crush defense, Thompson earned first-team All-Pro honors and a Pro Bowl berth in 1977 as Denver marched to its first Super Bowl appearance. Thompson followed that campaign with another Pro Bowl berth in 1978 and tacked on a final appearance in 1981. After 13 seasons with the Broncos, Thompson remained connected with the team for decades after his playing career. One of the best defensive backs in team history, Thompson was inducted into the Ring of Fame in 1987.
LB/DT KEITH TRAYLOR (1991, 61st overall)
A starter on the Broncos' first two world-championship teams, Traylor played six seasons in Denver after being selected out of Oklahoma. Traylor saw limited action in his first two seasons with the club, but he returned after three years in Green Bay and Kansas City to help the Broncos earn their first Lombardi Trophy. Across 1997 and 1998, Taylor started 37 of 39 games and recorded four sacks, an interception, a touchdown and 71 combined tackles. A force in the middle of the Broncos' defense, Traylor was also named a member of the Broncos' Top 100 team.
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