It's not that the Maurice Clarett selection is the worst selection for the Broncos over the past 10 seasons. It's that it's one of the worst draft picks in NFL history.
Long story short, Clarett established himself as one of college football's best players in his freshman season of 2002 at Ohio State. Clarett led the Buckeyes to a national championship game victory and decided that he was ready for the NFL following OSU suspending him for the 2003 season.
Clarett was eventually dismissed from OSU, where he then attempted to declare for the 2004 NFL draft. The issue was, Clarett had spent only two years out of high school—NFL rules require a player to have spent at least three years out of high school before declaring for the draft.
Clarett failed in his attempt to enter the 2004 draft, so he had to wait for the 2005 draft before he could become eligible.
For those who are counting, by the time the Broncos drafted Clarett in 2005, he had gone two-and-a-half years without playing any football.
Not a single draft expert projected Clarett to be drafted in the first three rounds. Back in 2005, the first three rounds were done in a single day. The Broncos held the final pick of the day with the 101st overall pick.
Head coach Mike Shanahan had developed a reputation as a guy who could mold a 1,000-yard rusher out of anybody. Up until that point, Terrell Davis, Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, Clinton Portis and Reuben Droughns had all rushed for 1,000-yard single seasons under the coaching of Shanahan.
With the exception of Portis, all running backs were either late-round draft picks or little-known free agents signed by the Broncos.
There is no reasonable explanation for this pick other than Shanahan's ego. It was once believed that anybody could run for 1,000 yards behind the Broncos offensive line, and there is little doubt that this fueled Shanahan's ego.
What this also fueled was the selection of Clarett. If anybody could run for 1,000 yards in Shanahan's system, that would mean Clarett could too, right?
Clarett didn't play a single game for the Broncos. That includes the preseason. Clarett played zero actual games for the franchise.
He was slow to recover from an injury and showed up to training camp weighing 248 pounds. Upon being released on waivers in 2005, no NFL team expressed interest in signing him.
This selection was not only the worst over the past 10 years for the Broncos, but also the worst in franchise history.
RB Maurice Clarett: Worst Draft Pick Since 2004