by Adam Fournier, Ourlads’ Intern
After only winning four games in 2010, the Broncos have bounced back with four consecutive playoff appearances. The past three years the Broncos have been one of the best teams in the NFL and Super Bowl contenders each year. While a lot of this has to do with the arrival of Peyton Manning, it is not the only reason. The Broncos have surrounded Manning with a lot of great young players that they have acquired in recent drafts.
The player who has benefited the most from the arrival of Manning is 2010 1st round pick Demaryius Thomas. Thomas has made the Pro Bowl in all three seasons with Manning and has emerged as one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. After recently signing Thomas to a five-year extension, Denver will be relying on him to be their number one receiver for many years to come. The Broncos found another star in the first round the following year with the selection of Von Miller as the 2nd overall pick. Miller has made an impact on defense since the moment he stepped onto the field. He won the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year Award and has been selected to three Pro Bowls in four years. Miller had a rough 2013 season as he was suspended six games and tore his ACL causing him to miss the Super Bowl, but he bounced back with a Pro Bowl year in 2014. Both Thomas and Miller have lived up to their first round selections. Now going to someone that was far from a first rounder but has made a great contribution to the team is 2012 6th round pick Danny Trevathan. Trevathan was a breakout player in 2013 starting every game including the playoffs and Super Bowl. Trevathan had an injury filled 2014 but should be back for the 2015 season.
The Broncos have made a lot of successful picks that helped them reach the Super Bowl but a lot are no longer on team. Wide receiver Eric Decker was a huge contributor at wide receiver in his last three seasons but left for the Jets in 2014. Zane Beadles started almost every game in his four years with the Broncos including a Pro Bowl selection, but he also left in the 2014 offseason. The 2011 Draft 2nd round pair Rahim Moore and Orlando Franklin started 48 and 63 games respectively in their four years with the team but both left Denver in the 2015 offseason. Now these two were not even the biggest loss of the 2015 offseason as tight end Julius Thomas left for Jacksonville. Thomas was one of the better picks as he was a 4th round selection and became one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Thomas made the Pro Bowl the past two years before leaving Denver.
The Broncos have also had some failures in the draft in recent years. The most notable pick that did not pan out was Tim Tebow. Tebow had a legendary college career but his skills did not translate well to the NFL. The Broncos, in somewhat shocking fashion, traded up to draft Tebow in the first round. Tebow actually had some success in his time with Denver leading the Broncos to a playoff win in the 2011-12 season. However, the Broncos gave up on Tebow with the arrival of Manning and traded him to the Jets. All things considered, he did not live up to his first round selection. Although too early to write them off, the past two drafts have not been very impactful so far. Quanterus Smith, Tavarres King, and Vince Painter are all no longer with Denver only two years removed from their draft. Also from the 2013 draft, Montee Ball has not been extremely impactful in his two years including an injury plagued 2014 season. Ball will need to improve big time in the next few years. With the exception of 1st rounder Bradley Roby, the 2014 draft class did not make a big impact last season. Roby is the only player projected as a starter in 2015 as he is projected to start at nickelback. The rest of the draft will need to step up their play in 2015.