Denver Broncos Diamonds in the Rough: The Broncos Top 5 Draft Overachievers

Jennifer EakinsContributor IJanuary 28, 2012

Denver Broncos Diamonds in the Rough: The Broncos Top 5 Draft Overachievers

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    The first few rounds of the NFL draft are fairly predictable.

    You have the All-American running back, the conference-champion quarterback and perhaps toss in a few defensive studs. It's the later rounds where the strategies lie and where team scouts can come out looking like geniuses.

    The Denver Broncos have had their share of great late-round picks who have made major contributions to the legacy of the franchise.

    Here's a look at the top five best value picks for the Broncos in the past 25 years.

1. Shannon Sharpe

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    Shannon Sharpe was drafted by the Broncos in 1990 in the seventh round at pick 192.

    He played tight end for the team for 12 seasons and eventually retired in 2003. Sharpe racked up 10,060 receiving yards and 62 touchdowns during his historic career. He was the first tight end to reach the 10,000-yard mark. 

    Shannon won three Super Bowls and was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011. He was also elected to an astonishing eight Pro Bowls throughout his career. In 1997 after the Broncos won the Super Bowl, he was featured on a Wheaties box along with a few other teammates.

    Oh, and he was honored into the Broncos Ring of Fame at Sports Authority Field at Mile High—not too shabby for a seventh-round pick.

2: Terrell Davis

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    I had a tough time deciding whether Terrell Davis or Shannon Sharpe should be in the No. 1 slot. Both are worthy and certainly outplayed their draft spot. Terrell was drafted by the Broncos in 1995 in the sixth round at pick 196.

    He came into training camp as the sixth-string tailback with little chance of making the squad. He impressed the coaches throughout the preseason and became the starting running back by the first regular-season game. In his short seven-year career, he managed to become the Broncos all-time rushing leader with 7,607 yards.

    Davis played in and won two Super Bowls with the Broncos. He was crowned the MVP of Super Bowl XXXll and the league MVP the year after in 1998.

    Terrell Davis was a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007—his first year of eligibility. Some argue that due to his career being cut short by injury, he may be kept out altogether. That still remains to be seen.

    He certainly made an indelible mark on the Denver Broncos franchise as well as the Mile High City. He was inducted to the prestigious Broncos Ring of Fame in 2007. His famous "Mile High Salute" can still be seen in end-zone celebrations to this day.

3. Tom Nalen

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    Tom Nalen is the epitome of longevity and consistency in the NFL.

    He is one of the best lineman ever to play for the Broncos and was drafted in the seventh round at pick 218 in 1994.

    He earned the starting position at center in his second season and did not lose the job until his retirement 13 years later. Six different running backs had 1,000-yard seasons behind Nalen during his career.

    He was voted to five Pro Bowls and played in two Super Bowls with the Broncos. When he retired in 2009, he was the last remaining player from the Super Bowl teams of the late 90s.

    That's pretty amazing coming from a guy taken in the last round of the draft.

4. Elvis Dumervil

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    In the 2006 draft, Elvis Dumervil fell to the Broncos in the fourth round at pick 126. He dropped on draft boards due to his 5'11" frame.

    The scouts seemed to overlook his 6'7" wingspan and tenacity that led to 21 sacks in his first two seasons. He began his career at defensive end and moved to outside linebacker when the Josh McDaniels parade came to town.

    He got a well deserved $61.5 million contract extension in 2007 guaranteeing him a member of the Broncos through 2015.

    He has become an integral part of the Denver defense, plus the guy's middle name is Kool, for real.

5. Brandon Marshall

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    Brandon Marshall was chosen a mere seven picks before our last overachiever, Dumervil in 2006. He was taken in the fourth round at pick 119. He was low on the draft radar coming from a small school—University of Central Florida.

    In 2007, he emerged as a top game breaker with 102 receptions for 1,365 yards. At the end of the season, he led all NFL receivers in yards after first contact.

    Marshall set a record for receptions in a single game with 21 in 2009. He was traded to the Miami Dolphins in April of 2010 and has performed well considering the mediocre quarterback carousel the Dolphins have had as of late.

    Brandon Marshall has certainly had his share of off-the-field antics and demons that have hindered him from attaining elite status as a receiver in the NFL.

    With the right quarterback and attitude, he could easily elevate to the top of the draft overachiever list by the end of his career.