Broncos' 2006 Blockbuster Draft Class All but Gone After Dumervil's Departure
After the departure of free-agent defensive end Elvis Dumervil, the Denver Broncos' 2006 blockbuster draft class has been all but completely dismantled (as was pointed out by USA Today's Lindsay Jones).
Seven years ago, the Broncos drafted six offensive weapons and one defensive end in what turned out to be one of Mike Shanahan's final drafts in Denver. The Broncos would go on to a 9-7 season, and Shanahan was fired just two years later, but his 2006 class lived on.
Most of them quickly clashed with head coach Josh McDaniels, but all of them have shown flashes of talent throughout their careers.
Where are these players now? Let's take a look.
6th-Round Pick (198th Overall): Center Greg Eslinger
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OK, maybe not all seven draftees turned out to be superstars, but it's not often that a sixth-round pick turns into a Pro Bowler.
Center Greg Eslinger was injured during training camp and was on injured reserve for the entirety of his rookie season. Eslinger went on to earn All-NFL Europa honors as a member of the Cologne Centurions in 2007.
5th-Round Pick (161st Overall): Guard Chris Kuper
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Guard Chris Kuper only appeared in one game during his rookie season, but went on to play in at least 15 games for five consecutive years from 2007-2011.
Becoming one of Denver's best offensive linemen, Kuper allowed just one sack, during a 27-start span from 2007-08, for a loss of just two yards. In his last season as a starter (2011), Kuper allowed 1.5 sacks.
Last season, Kuper was plagued by injures and only started in five games. Despite missing most of the season, Kuper was still voted a Pro Bowl alternate last season, which testifies to his established reputation in the league.
Moving forward, Kuper's health problems could lead to him leaving his starting gig in Denver. Earlier this spring, the Broncos signed guard Louis Vasquez, who will likely claim Kuper's spot on the depth chart.
4th-Round Pick (130th Overall): Receiver Domenik Hixon
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In Denver, Domenik Hixon saw little playing time on the offense; he was used mainly on special teams during his tenure with the team. Released midseason in 2008, the New York Giants quickly pounced on the return specialist.
With the Giants, Hixon has won a pair of Super Bowls (XLII, XLVI) and has caught 102 passes for 1,405 yards and six touchdowns. Last season, Hixon caught 39 passes for 567 yards and two scores.
Going forward, Hixon figures to continue contributing to New York's passing attack.
4th-Round Pick (126th Overall): Rusher Elvis Dumervil
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As a rookie, defensive end Elvis Dumervil quickly put himself in the spotlight, recording 8.5 sacks as a rotational lineman. The next season, Dumervil started in all 16 games and recorded 12.5 sacks.
Two years later, Josh McDaniels moved Dumervil from DE to OLB in Denver's new 3-4 defense. That season, Dumervil led the NFL with 17 sacks, which ultimately led to him receiving a massive contract from Denver.
Dumervil missed the next season with a shoulder injury and returned to record 20.5 sacks from 2011-12. This offseason, the Broncos tried to cut Dumervil's salary, but ultimately cut him after a fax machine went rogue during negotiations.
The Baltimore Ravens jumped in and signed Dumervil to a five-year deal. In Baltimore, Dumervil is expected to be moved back to OLB in the Ravens' 3-4 defense.
Moving forward, Dumervil has the ability to remain one of the top pass-rushers in the league, going from playing across from Von Miller to now teaming up with Terrell Suggs.
4th-Round Pick (119th Overall): Receiver Brandon Marshall
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Receiver Brandon Marshall was given little playing time his rookie year, but he made the most of his opportunities. Marshall caught 20 passes for 309 yards and two scores in 2006.
The following year, Marshall quickly became a household name when he caught 102 passes for 1,325 yards and seven touchdowns. He would go on to post three consecutive 100-catch, 1,000-yard seasons in Denver.
But Marshall went on to clash with Josh McDaniels and was traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2009. Marshall was productive in Miami, but his best season was yet to come.
The Dolphins dealt Marshall to the Chicago Bears in 2012, and he went on to catch 118 passes for 1,508 yards and 11 touchdowns—all career highs. Marshall will likely continue to play at a Pro Bowl-level for several more years.
2nd-Round Pick (61st Overall): Tony Scheffler
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Tight end Tony Scheffler caught 14 touchdown passes during his first four seasons with the Broncos before a dispute with Josh McDaniels (sound familiar?) led to him becoming a Detroit Lion in 2010.
With the Lions, Scheffler caught 42 passes for 504 yards and one touchdown last season. He is currently the No. 2 tight end on Detroit's depth chart.
1st-Round Pick (11th Overall): Quarterback Jay Cutler
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Quarterback Jay Cutler was highly productive early in his career in Denver, but was ultimately traded to the Chicago Bears by former head coach Josh McDaniels.
In his first season with Chicago (2009), Cutler threw for over 3,600 yards and 27 touchdowns, with the latter being a career high. Since then, his numbers have been more modest.
Cutler has battled injuries in recent seasons, but after reuniting with Brandon Marshall, he is looking to bounce back to Pro Bowl-form in 2013.