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NFL Draft: Top 10 First-Round Picks in Denver Broncos History

Ben FletcherContributor IIIOctober 9, 2016

NFL Draft: Top 10 First-Round Picks in Denver Broncos History

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    With the 2012 NFL draft nearing and all of the talk surrounding the first-round pick, let us take a look at the Denver Broncos' top 10 first-round picks in the last 50 years and see what impact they had on the franchise.

    When deciding who made the list, as well as where they placed on the list, I took several factors into consideration.

    Remember, the first criteria that is required to make this slideshow is that the player must have been drafted by the Denver Broncos in the first round. Sorry John Elway, Shannon Sharpe, Terrell Davis, Gary Zimmerman, Karl Mecklenburg and Tom Jackson. None of you were selected in the first round by the Denver Broncos.

    In fact, most of them (other than Elway and Zimmerman) were selected in much later rounds. Remember that when the late rounds in the 2012 NFL draft come around.

    There are 10 players on this list. When determining how they were chosen I considered four main factors. Other than the obvious criteria listed above, these factors include:

    1. The number of years they spent with the Broncos
    2. How many pro-bowls they went to
    3. Their career stats
    4. Any additional awards they received during their career.

    Each player has these categories listed on their slide, so you'll be able to view where all of them fall in these categories.

10. LB John Mobley

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    Draft Selection: 15th

    Years with Denver: 8 (1996-03)

    Pro-Bowls: 0

    Stats: 634 Tackles, 10.5 sacks, 5 INT

    Awards: Two Super Bowl rings, 1997 All-Pro

    Synopsis: In Super Bowl XXXII, John Mobley deflected a Brett Favre pass on 4th and 6 from the 31-yard-line with just over 30 seconds left in the game (as seen in the photo above), sealing a 31-24 victory and Denver's first Super Bowl win in franchise history. Mobley was a solid linebacker for the Broncos for several years. Unfortunately, his career was cut short when he injured his spinal column on a collision with a teammate in 2003.

9. G Tom Glassic

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    Draft Selection: 15th

    Years with Denver: 8 (1976-83)

    Pro-Bowls: 0

    Stats: n/a

    Awards: none

    Synopsis: Said to be the most dependable offensive lineman in Broncos history, Tom Glassic started 92 of 105 games and was part of the 1977 team that took the Broncos to their first Super Bowl.

8. DE Trevor Pryce

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    Draft Selection: 28th

    Years with Denver: 9 (1997-05)

    Pro-Bowls: 4

    Stats: 439 Tackles, 91 sacks

    Awards: Two Super Bowl rings, 3x All-Pro

    Synopsis: Trevor Pryce was an anchor on the Broncos defense for several years. He was placed on the Broncos 50th Anniversary Team in 2009. He left Denver after the 2005 season and has played for Baltimore and the New York Jets since.

7. TE Riley Odoms

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    Draft Selection: 5th

    Years with Denver: 12 (1972-83)

    Pro-Bowls: 4

    Stats: 396 rec, 5,755 receiving yards, 41 TD

    Awards: 2x All-Pro

    Synopsis: Riley Odoms was selected 5th overall, making him the second highest tight end ever taken in the NFL draft. Odoms was also the only tight end ever drafted by the Denver Broncos in the first round.

6. CB Louis Wright

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    Draft Selection: 17th

    Years with Denver: 12 (1975-1986)

    Pro-Bowls: 5

    Stats: 26 INT, 11 fumble recoveries

    Awards: Denver Broncos Ring of Fame, 1977 Football Digest NFL Defensive Back of the Year, NFL 1970's all-decade team, 3x All-Pro

    Synopsis: Louis Wright helped lead the Broncos to their first Super Bowl appearance in 1977 behind their Orange Crush defense. In the 1986 AFC Championship game vs the Cleveland Browns, Wright made multiple big plays, including many open field tackles, that gave John Elway and the offense the opportunity to win the game in what we know today as 'The Drive'.

5. LB Al Wilson

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    Draft Selection: 31st

    Years with Denver: 8 (1999-06)

    Pro-Bowls: 5

    Stats: 712 Tackles, 21.5 sacks, 5 INT, 8 forced fumbles

    Awards: 2x All-Pro

    Synopsis: Al Wilson was the anchor of the Broncos defense for several years. He was one of the fastest middle linebackers in the league and recorded at least 100 tackles in five straight seasons with the Broncos.

4. S Dennis Smith

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    Draft Selection: 15th

    Years with Denver: 14 (1981-94)

    Pro-Bowls: 6

    Stats: 1,171 Tackles, 14 sacks, 30 INT

    Awards: Denver Broncos Ring of Fame, Named clubs most inspirational player in 1992, 4x All-NFL

    Synopsis: Dennis Smith established himself as one of the most feared and hardest hitting safeties in the league. He ranks 4th all-time amongst Denver Broncos in games played with 184.

3. FS Steve Atwater

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    Draft Selection: 20th

    Years with Denver: 10 (1989-98)

    Pro-Bowls: 8

    Stats: 1,180 Tackles, 24 INT

    Awards: Denver Broncos Ring of Fame, Two Super Bowl rings, NFL 1990's All-Decade Team, 3x All-Pro

    Synopsis: Steve Atwater learned from one of the greatest safeties of all time in Dennis Smith, and carried on the hard-hitting reputation at Denver that Smith started. Atwater had one of the best games of his career in Super Bowl XXXII when he recorded six solo tackles, one sack, two passes defensed and a forced fumble.

2. RB Floyd Little

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    Draft Selection: 6th

    Years with Denver: 9 (1967-75)

    Pro-Bowls: 3

    Stats: 6,323 rushing yards, 54 total touchdowns, 12,103 all-purpose yards

    Awards: Hall of Fame, Denver Broncos Ring of Fame, American Football League All-Star in 1968, First-team "All-AFL" in 1969

    Synopsis: The signing of Floyd Little literally saved the Denver Broncos' franchise at a time when the team was looking to move to a different city. He was named the team captain every season, including his rookie year, and the only running back of six drafted in the first round that made the top 10. From 1968 to 1973, Little led the NFL in rushing and yards from scrimmage (rushing and receiving).

1. LB Randy Gradishar

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    Draft Selection: 14th

    Years with Denver: 10 (1974-83)

    Pro-Bowls: 7

    Stats: 2,029 Tackles, 20.5 Sacks, 20 INT

    Awards: Denver Broncos Ring of Fame, 1978 Defensive Player of the Year, 2x Denver Broncos MVP, 6x All-Pro, 7x All-AFC selection

    Synopsis: Known as "The heart and soul of the original Orange Crush defense", Randy Gradishar is notably the best first-round draft pick the Denver Broncos ever made. From 1978-1983, the Broncos allowed the third fewest rushing yards in the NFL, much of that success due to the leadership of Gradishar.

    He is, along with many of the players in this slideshow, one of the Broncos best players of all time.

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