Denver Broncos: The Top 50 Players in Team History
For lists and rankings to be termed "definitive," they must be created in an objective and scientific way.
Even though there was copious amounts of research and discussion with Broncos fans of varied ages, this list lacks much in the way of scientific evidence to support it. Instead, this list is based on a lot of "feel" and personal preference from a "relatively" informed source.
Or at least one that has watched a lot of Bronco football.
An entire book could be written about the members of this list, but unfortunately the author of this piece does not have the funding to spend the time to write it (unless there is a generous publisher out there looking to take a chance).
The top 10 are set in stone for the purposes of this list; however, what follows after that is simply a collection of 40 great Broncos. Their positions are within a plus/minus of about five spaces, but as always, there is room for debate.
So, here are the top 50 players in Denver Broncos history!
No. 50 to No. 41
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50. Jake Plummer: In terms of winning percentage, the best Bronco QB ever.
49. Matt Lepsis: Former Buffalo and stalwart on productive offensive lines.
48. Darrien Gordon: Talented DB and PR who helped Broncos get over the Super Bowl hump.
47. Tom Rouen: Solid punter who provided stability but is the second-best athlete in his home.
46. Bill Romanowski: Provided much-needed attitude on Broncos Super Bowl defenses.
45. Tyrone Braxton: Statistically solid cornerback, who could tackle and cover.
44. Lyle Alzado: Before becoming more famous as a personality, he was a solid Bronco.
43. Rubin Carter: Rugged defensive lineman and under-appreciated as a Bronco.
42. Barney Chavous: Ruler of the interior defensive line for many years in Denver.
41. Howard Griffith: Helped the fullback position for the whole NFL and paved the way for TD.
No. 40 to No. 31
40. Rick Upchurch: The best return man in Denver Broncos history.
39. Riley Odoms: A consistent performer from the tight end position.
38. John Mobley: If not for injury he would have been much higher on this list as a linebacker.
37. Steve Sewell: The perfect utility player; near the top in rushing and receiving for Denver.
36. Steve Watson: Great hands kept him productive from Morton to Elway.
35. Steve Foley: Leads the Broncos in interceptions all-time with 44.
34. Charley Johnson: A sentimental favorite at QB for longtime Bronco fans.
33. Tom Glassic: One of the founding fathers of the dominant Broncos offensive lines.
32. Trevor Pryce: The perfect blend of run-stopping power and sack-hunting ability.
31. Mark Schlereth: "Stink" came to win, and was never out of the lineup at crunch time.
No. 30 to No. 21
30. Frank Tripucka: Came on as a coach and wound up in the Ring of Fame as a quarterback.
29. Clinton Portis: A great Bronco career was cut short by greed, but a true talent at RB.
28. Craig Morton: Can't forget the first famous No. 7; veteran QB ushered in the Super Bowl era.
27. Alfred Williams: The CU Buff came home and helped deliver a Super Bowl for Denver.
26. Al Wilson: If his career had more time he might have rivaled Ray Lewis statistically.
25. Mark Jackson: The most talented of the "Three Amigos," helped finish "The Drive."
24. Simon Fletcher: Career leader in sacks for the Denver Broncos by almost 20.
23. Karl Mecklenburg: Second in sacks, but unparalleled defensive versatility for Denver.
22. Goose Gonsoulin: Forty-three interceptions in a six-season span for this Ring of Famer.
21. Lionel Taylor: Best receiving YPG for any Broncos WR with over 50 starts in Denver.
No. 20 to No. 11
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20. Rich Jackson: Tombstone invented some of the most brutal rushing attacks in NFL history.
19. Paul Smith: Two-time Pro Bowler and Ring of Fame member as a Broncos DE.
18. Ed McCaffery: "Eddie Mac" was the second part of the best one-two punch at WR.
17. Tom Nalen: The true emotional heart and anchor of the Broncos O-line and rushing game.
16. Billy Thompson: Underrated as a player but invaluable as a leader on and off the field.
15. Jim Turner: This member of the Ring of Fame holds the second position in all-time scoring.
14. Haven Moses: Moses was an explosive game-breaker who averaged 18 yards per catch.
13. Tom Jackson: A fiery leader who ignited the Orange Crush as a linebacker.
12. Jason Elam: The all-time leading scorer in Denver history could be headed for Canton too.
11. Steve Atwater: A linebacker attitude at the safety position who struck fear into other teams.
No. 10 to No. 1
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10. Champ Bailey: Already the finest athlete to patrol the Denver secondary; Canton-bound.
9. Randy Gradishar: The greatest tackling machine in Denver history.
8. Gary Zimmerman: The second Bronco to enter the Hall of Fame.
7. Louis Wright: The original "lockdown" corner and the bar Champ Bailey is measured by.
6. Dennis Smith: The best all-around safety in Broncos history.
5. Floyd Little: "The Franchise" helped keep the Broncos in Denver and put them on the map.
4. Terrell Davis: One of the brightest talents Denver ever had, that burned out too soon.
3. Shannon Sharpe: This Hall of Famer is arguably the best TE in NFL history.
2. Rod Smith: The epitome of what hard work can earn you.
1. John Elway: Unquestioned in his spot at the top, maybe forever.