The Top 10 Broncos of last 30 years: Defense
The Denver Broncos were not only known for their offense over the past 20 years. They had a period of defensive dominance.
I compiled a list of my all time Denver Broncos defensive players. This was based on overall skill set, stats over there career or during their career, and what they have accomplished.
When it comes to winning games, remember the key is in the defense, and not just the offense.
Leave your thoughts and comments please!! THANKS
No. 10 Ian Gold
As of recent I can not say that I would put Ian Gold in my top list, but he was part of a Denver Bronco's linebacker corps that was considered the stingiest in 2005.
Ian Gold was Denver's LOLB and ROLB respectably. He anchored that position very well. He was also at the time considered one of the NFL's best covering linebackers.
Ian Gold managed to go to the Pro Bowl in 2001 and managed to get 513 tackles, 17.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles, 17.5 sacks, four interceptions, and a touchdown.
Although many people do not consider Ian that good, due to his most recent season, he still is considered one of Denver's best.
No. 9 D.J. Williams
When it comes to overall talent, DJ is one of the most athletic and instinctive linebackers in the game. Although DJ has not made a Pro Bowl yet, he still is considered one of the best linebackers in the league, and defiantly in the top three for versatility.
DJ came out of Miami, enough said, he has been in the top three for Denver defensive players on roster since he joined this team. There is so much to be said about DJ, so ill keep it short.
DJ has played all three linebacker positions and is taking up a new one under the 3-4 defense. DJ feels very comfortable in this new system which can propel him to superstar status. Ever since joining the team in 2004 DJ has compiled 479 tackles, 6.5 sacks, two interceptions, 18 passes defended, and six forced fumbles. I can not wait to see what he does under the 3-4 defense.
No. 8 John Lynch
Scary, is just one word to describe John Lynch. During his four years with the Denver Broncos John Lynch accomplished a lot. He made the Pro Bowl every year he was with the Broncos, he helped to make Denver's secondary the scariest with Champ Bailey, and he always gave 100 percent.
John Lynch departed from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003. Many had though that Lynch's career was over and he was getting too old and slow. He sure proved them wrong. He joined the Denver Broncos and the rest is history. He made consecutive Pro Bowl appearances, and he amassed over 1,000 tackles before retiring in late 2008.
John Lynch will forever be one of Denver's best, even though he only had a four year stint with them.
No. 7 Neil Smith
Even though Neil Smith only spent three seasons with the Denver Broncos, those were some of the most successful years of this franchise.
Neil Smith was a dominant force in Kansas City, before he came to Denver, he was always bulling through offensive lineman and picking up sacks.
He finally decided to switch sides by Joining the Denver Broncos in 1997, wow what a great idea. He ended up helping the Broncos go to the playoffs, and eventually win the Superbowl, and again next year.
Neil was known for taking up two, even three blockers at times because of his size and strength, before his career was over Neil managed to go to six Pro Bowls and win two championships with the Denver Broncos
No. 6 Dennis Smith
This was Denver's first scary safety, before Steve Atwater, and John Lynch.
Dennis Smith was a great NFL player, mainly for his very hard hits and ball hawking.
Dennis Smith struck fear in the eyes of opponents, and constantly was seen hitting the ball carrier senseless.
Before ending his career Dennis went to six Pro Bowls, was an All Pro four times, and went to the Superbowl with the Broncos three times.
No. 5 Ray Crockett
One of Denver's fist shutdown corners, Ray Crockett was the prototypical corner back. He could tackle, cover, get to the quarterback on occasions, and ball hawk.
Ray Crockett came to the Denver Broncos organization in 1994 after spending his first five years with the Detroit Lions.
During his career Ray Crockett managed to get an amazing 879 tackles,as a corner, 36 interceptions, and 15.5 sacks.
Ray Crockett also helped the Denver Broncos win the Superbowl two years, surprisingly he never made a Pro Bowl, but who cares when you have two super bow rings and the respect of the Denver Broncos
No. 4 Al Wilson
Fast, furious, dangerous, scary, cool, amazing are just a few words to describe this player. Al Wilson has been Denver's best linebacker since the Orange Crush days.
Al Wilson first started off his reign of dominance in college, where he was team captain of the Tennessee team that won the National Championship and back to back SEC titles.
He was drafted right after Denver won there Superbowl, unfortunate for him. That did not stop him from making an immediate impact on the football field. He quickly became one of the most feared linebackers for being able to wrap up almost anyone and his fierce hits that left other opponents dazed.
Al Wilson gained a reputation on the field for being a natural leader which led him to become team captain, and he was considered one of the fastest linebackers to play his position. He also was good in pass coverage.
Unfortunately Al Wilson's career was cut short by a neck injury obtained during the Seattle game, he never returned to playing football after that.
Over Al Wilson's career he managed to get 712 tackles, 21.5 sacks, five interceptions, an amazing 44 passes defended, eight forced fumbles, and a touchdown.
No. 4 (tied) Karl Mecklenburg,
Karl Mecklenburg, this man was drafted out of the 12th round of the NFL draft, which us now considered being a rookie free agent. He never had the glam surrounding him when he was coming out of college, so this means he had lots more to prove than everyone. He surely did that.
Mecklenburg played in 180 games for the Broncos and was an impact for all 180 of them. He was part of a Denver Broncos team that ranked number one in defense and was part of the Superbowl. He went to six Pro Bowls, and he has 79 sacks, five interceptions, and he also was an All-Pro five years out of his career.
No. 3 Steve Atwater
Good Ol' Steve Atwater, this in not only one of Denver's finest players, but the entire NFL.
Atwater was drafted by the Denver Broncos in 1989, that is when he reign of supremacy started. Steve Atwater is an amazing player to say the least. He was fearless, he was considered the hardest hitting safety of that time, and he knew how to do things right.
During his career with the Broncos Atwater was put into the box often playing as Denver's fourth linebacker,so to say. He managed to amass a staggering 1,180 tackles.
Before his career was over Steve Atwater had 24 interceptions, a touchdown, six forced fumbles, six sacks. When his career was over Atwater went to eight Pro bowls, two=time All Pro selection, and he has one of the most vicious hits on Christian Okoye......Check it out
No. 2 The Orange Crush Defense
Sorry to be cheap and bunch these players together, but in my opinion they played as a complete unit, this is why they were given the name the Orange Crush Defense.
This consisted of, Tom Jackson, and Randy Gradishar. This was by far Denver's best linebacker corps and for a great reason, they turned this team around from being a losing team to being one of the best organizations in the NFL.
First lets start off with Tom Jackon, one of the most underrated players in NFL history, in my opinion. You never hear this guys name on greatest players who played the game, but he sure was one of them.
Jackson joined the Broncos after being drafted by them in the 1973 draft. He quickly made an impact. During Jackson's career he had an amazing 20 career interceptions and three went back for touchdowns, this number is amazing for a linebacker. He also had 40 sacks and went to three Pro Bowls, and was part of two Denver Broncos Superbowl teams.
Finally we have Randy Gradishar aka tackling machine. He was never know for getting to the QB or bull rushing but he was one of NFL's best tacklers.
Drafted in the first round by the Broncos in 1974, Gradishar was considered to be a beast at shedding blocks and getting to the ball carrier, this was no lie. Over his career Gradishar was superb in short yardage situation and he led the Broncos in tackles nearly every year of his NFL career.
When Gradishar retired he was the Denver Broncos all time leading tackler with 2,049 and he also got 20 interceptions. He was a seven time Pro Bowl selection, five time All Pro, and many more great awards.
When it comes to playing as a complete unit the orange crush was as good as they got.
No. 1 Champ Bailey
There may be some disagreements with this selection, but I will tell you why he is No. 1 in my top defensive players.
Champ Bailey was first drafted No. 8 in 1999s draft by the Washington Redskins, then through the Blockbuster Clinton Portis deal the Broncos obtained Champ Bailey and a second round draft pick that was later used to get Tatum Bell.
Champ Bailey is a future hall of fame player and many people consider him the best corner in football today, he has accomplished many great things, and he has been an assassin on his side of the playing field.
One particular play that comes to mind is the play against New England, now many of you already know of this play. It was the fourth quarter and Tom Brady was inside of Denver's 20 yard line, it was looking like the Patriots were going to score. Tom drops back, the blitz is coming and he throws one up for his receiver. Champ snatches it down and races 100 yards down the field before he gets tackled. This play alone sums up his career, he makes things happen and he can change the game in an instance.
Some may consider Nnamdi Asomugha as the best corner in the NFL, but he can not do everything that Champ can do. He can not play zone like Champ, actually he does not even play zone, and he can not read plays as effective as Champ.
Champ bailey is as what I like to say the messiah of corner backs, when healthy he can shut down anyone, just ask Randy Moss last year when Champ was still healthy Moss did not catch one pass.
Over his career Champ has put up some impressive numbers, shockingly they would have been much more impressive if QB actually threw to his side. During his career Champ has 671 tackles, an amazing 173 passes defended, two sacks, seven forced fumbles, an amazing 43 interceptions and counting, and four touchdowns.
When it comes to Denver's best defensive players Champ Bailey is definitely number one and should be in the Hall of Fame when he retires.