The Biggest Draft Busts in Denver Broncos History

Sarah MarshallContributor IApril 1, 2013

The Biggest Draft Busts in Denver Broncos History

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    Each team has to deal with busts when it comes to the NFL draft and the Denver Broncos are not excluded from this. Although the Broncos have drafted plenty of studs over the last few decades, they have also drafted their fair share of duds.

    Here is a look at the biggest drafts busts in Denver Broncos history, in no particular order.

RB Maurice Clarett

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    The Denver Broncos used a third-round pick on Maurice Clarett in 2005 after controversy and allegations during his time with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Clarett played an important role in leading the Buckeyes to the 2003 Fiesta Bowl and national championship game, but Clarett had major issues. 

    Clarett faced allegations of improper benefits, as well as cheating in the classroom. He also filed a false police report which resulted in him being suspended from Ohio State and then missing 2003 and 2004 seasons. The absence in the 2004 season was because Clarett sued the NFL, trying to overturn the rule that players must be three years out of high school in order to enter the NFL draft. 

    Clarett participated in the combine, running slow times in the 40 and then refusing to continue. It was surprising, then, that Mike Shanahan and the Denver Broncos selected Clarett in the third round of the draft. Clarett signed his deal on July 28, 2005, but after a dismal training camp full of injuries and not much else, Clarett was released on August 28, 2005.

    Since being released by the Denver Broncos, Clarett spent four years and prison and played for the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL.

LT George Foster

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    Left tackle George Foster had a vibrant career at Georgia as the No. 1 left tackle in 2002 and leading the Bulldogs to a No. 3 ranking and SEC Championship Game and Sugar Bowl victories. 

    The Denver Broncos selected Foster with the 20th pick in the 2003 draft. Foster was slow in his first season, therefore not playing a single game in his rookie year. Before his second season, Mike Shanahan moved Foster to right tackle, where he played the next three seasons. Foster was part of an offensive line that allowed only 15 sacks in 2004. Foster started all 16 games in 2005, but was benched at the end of the 2006 season. 

    In 2007, the Broncos traded Foster to the Detroit Lions. Foster is one of many draft picks that sounded good on paper and lasted for a few good seasons before burning out. 

QB Tommy Maddox

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    The Denver Broncos already had John Elway, but Dan Reeves felt like he needed to find Elway's replacement and used a first-round pick in the 1992 draft to select Tommy Maddox. 

    Maddox entered the draft after his sophomore season at UCLA, where he was a successful quarterback and led the Bruins to the John Hancock Bowl in 1991. When Reeves used the first-round pick on Maddox, the relationship between Reeves and Elway had gone sour. Elway had already lead the Broncos to three Super Bowls, but had to failed to win each. 

    Maddox started in four games for the Denver Broncos, throwing five touchdowns and nine interceptions. Maddox was a bust and Dan Reeves was fired because of it. Maddox was eventually traded to the St. Louis Rams in 1994 before moving on to the Pittsburgh Steelers

DE Dan Williams

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    Dan Williams was a stellar player at Toledo, finishing with 256 tackles, 60 of those for a loss, three forced fumbles and 28 sacks. Because of this production, the Denver Broncos traded picks and used a first-round spot to select Dan Williams in the 1993 NFL draft.

    Although Williams was good in college, he was only mediocre in Denver. Williams only played three seasons, accruing four sacks in 39 games. 

    In 1998, Williams had his most productive year—with the Kansas City Chiefs. He posted a career-high 10.5 sacks in one season, more than six more than he had during his entire career in Denver. 

    Dan Williams was a bust for the Denver Broncos because he failed to be productive in orange and blue, but had his best numbers with their biggest rival. 

WR Marcus Nash

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    The Broncos were looking to build off their momentum after winning the Super Bowl when they drafted Marcus Nash in the 1998 NFL draft. The wide receiver from Tennessee was drafted with the 30th overall pick. 

    In his rookie season, Nash played eight games with 76 yards on four passes. In his sophomore season, Nash appeared in only two games before being traded to the Miami Dolphins for fellow first-rounder John Avery. Avery also proved to be unproductive for Denver. 

    Nash was a bust because even when he was traded for another player, the Broncos got no value and therefore wasted their first-round pick in the 1998 draft. 

DB Willie Middlebrooks

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    Willie Middlebrooks was a Second-Team All-Big Ten player in 1999 and First-Team in 2000 before suffering an ankle injury that caused him to miss the last four games of the season. Middlebrooks was touted as the best man-coverage layer coming from the Big Ten in the 2001 NFL draft. 

    Despite his ankle injury, the Denver Broncos took a big gamble and used their 24th pick to select Middlebrooks. He was used mostly on special teams before being traded to the 49ers after the 2004 season. After horrendous play in San Francisco, the Denver Broncos gave Middlebrooks another chance in 2006, but he was release August 30. 

    Middlebrooks is another name on the list of first-round picks that didn't work out for the Denver Broncos.

DE Jarvis Moss

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    The stud from the University of Florida, Jarvis Moss, never caught the plane to Denver, making him another dud the Broncos used their first-round draft pick to attain. Not only did they use their first-round pick, but the Broncos also traded their third- and fifth-round pick in order to move up to get Moss.

    The Broncos were hoping Moss would bring the defensive presence with him he had at Florida, but instead he was a disappointment and one of Mike Shanahan's biggest draft mistakes. In four season with Denver, Moss only had 24 tackles and 3.5 sacks. 

    In the end, Denver gave up way too much for a guy who made such little impact. 

NT Ted Gregory

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    This draft bust was before I was born, but I could easily say it's the worst pick in Denver Broncos history. Coach Dan Reeves didn't meet or talk to Ted Gregory before the draft. Although Gregory had significant numbers while at Syracuse, flags were raised concerning steroids use and a knee injury. Despite these issues, the Broncos still selected Ted Gregory with the 26th pick in the 1988 NFL draft. 

    As soon as Gregory arrived in Denver, the Broncos knew they made a mistake. First of all, he was smaller than expected. His knee problems started from the first snap with the Broncos. He was traded to the New Orleans Saints during preseason. Gregory only played three games for the Saints before his knee gave out after, ironically, sacking John Elway.  

OL Mike Croel

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    Mike Croel, an outside linebacker from Nebraska, was the highest-drafted Denver Bronco (No. 4) until the Broncos took Von Miller in 2011. Croel and Miller had very similar rookie seasons. 

    In his rookie season, Croel recorded 10 sacks and was named Defensive Rookie of the Year. Unfortunately, his rookie season was the most productive. In the next three seasons in orange and blue, Croel recorded 14 sacks. After playing four years with the Broncos, he was released and bounced around the NFL.