Greatest Day 3 draft picks in Denver Broncos history

Terrell Davis. Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports.

Currently, Day 3 of the NFL Draft is going down.

The Denver Broncos have already selected three players, helping fill needs. First, it was Josey Jewell, a linebacker out of Iowa. Then the team snagged DaeSean Hamilton in the fourth round as well, a wideout similarly built to Emmanuel Sanders.  Finally, Denver selected tight end Troy Fumgali in the fifth round.

There’s no telling if Jewell, Hamilton or the other few picks Denver makes today will go down in franchise history as all-time greats, but one thing is for sure, the Broncos have a history of finding Hall of Fame talent late in the draft.

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane for the greatest Day 3 (fourth round or later) picks in Broncos history.

10. Lyle Alzado, 1971, Round 4, pick No. 79

Alzado was a beast and a key member of the Orange Crush defense which went to the first Super Bowl in Broncos history, Super Bowl XII, a loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He racked up an incredible 14 fumble recoveries in only eight years with the team, including five in 1972.

9. Sammy Winder, 1982, Round 5, pick No. 131

Winder played his entire nine-year NFL career in Denver, finishing with 5,427 rushing yards and 39 rushing scores. He was also a threat through the air, with 1,302 yards and nine scores on receptions, and he is still the third-greatest running back in franchise history in terms of yards and TDs.

8. Tyrone Braxton, 1987, Round 12, pick No. 334

Braxton was a key member of the back-to-back Super Bowl champion teams in the late 90s, starting at cornerback and moving over to safety late in his career. In 1996 he nabbed an NFL-high nine interceptions, while his 34 in Denver put him fifth all-time in that category for the franchise.

7. Steve Foley, 1975, Round 8, pick No. 199

Foley played 11 years for the Broncos as a great defensive back, racking up 44 career interceptions. Those 44 picks rank Foley No. 1 in interceptions in Denver Broncos history.

6. Elvis Dumervil, 2006, Round 4, pick No. 126

Dumervil represents the most recent late-round steal by the Broncos, one of Mike Shanahan’s final, great selections. He played six years in the Mile High City, racking up 63.5 sacks while here, and his 17.0 sacks in 2009 were an NFL-high.

5. Tom Nalen, 1994, Round 7, pick No. 218

Nalen played 14 years for the Broncos as the center of their offensive line, through thick and thin. He was the captain of that dominant offensive line which popularized the zone-blocking scheme under Alex Gibbs, the same scheme all NFL teams use today. He was a two-time First Team All-Pro and his career compares to Hall of Famers Willie Roaf and Dermontti Dawson.

4. Tom Jackson, 1973, Round 4, pick No. 88

Tom Jackson was the leader of that original Orange Crush defense and the defensive-minded team that played in Super Bowl XII. He famously told then-Oakland Raiders coach John Madden, “It’s over fat man” during Week 5 of that year, the same year Denver beat Oakland in the AFC Championship game. Over the course of a 14-year career in the orange and blue, Jackson played in two Super Bowls with the Broncos and was one of the greatest players in Broncos history.

3. Karl Mecklenburg, 1983, Round 12, pick No. 310

Finding “Meck” in the 12th round of the 1983 draft? What a steal! Another lifelong Broncos player — enjoying 12 years in the Mile High City — Mecklenburg goes down as another legendary defensive player for Denver, one who deserves a place in the Hall of Fame. He finished his career of 141 games started with 79.0 career sacks, the third all-time in franchise history behind Simon Fletcher and Von Miller. He was a three-time First Team All-Pro and his career compares favorably to Willie Lanier.

2. Shannon Sharpe, 1990, Round 7, pick No. 192

“The Hulk” was an unstoppable force in the 1990s. While he wasn’t the first-ever pass-catching tight end, Sharpe revolutionized the position. He was too fast for linebackers and too big for safeties to cover, putting up insane numbers over the course of his career. At the time of his retirement, in 2003, Sharpe’s 675 receptions, 8,439 yards and 55 touchdowns were all bests in Broncos history. He won three straight Super Bowls — two in Denver and one in Baltimore — and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011.

1. Terrell Davis, 1995, Round 6, pick No. 196

“TD” knew how to put TDs on the board, that’s for sure. For two years — in 1997-98 — Terrell Davis was a nearly unstoppable running back, using superb vision to find holes in the line with that zone-blocking scheme. In 1997, he put up 1,750 yards and 15 touchdowns as the Broncos rode on his back to their first ever Super Bowl title. In 1998, he was even more sensational, running for 2,008 yards with 21 touchdowns and a second straight Super Bowl win. Davis’ 7,607 yards and 60 rushing scores are each the best all-time for Denver, but it was his extraordinary playoff performances which finally got him into the Hall of Fame in 2017.