With the decade about to come to a close, now seems like the perfect time to go back and reflect on what the Broncos have done in recent years.
Let’s take a stroll down memory and look at some of the best and worst Broncos picks from the second half of the 2010s.
Best: Trevor Siemian, QB (Round: 7 Pick: 250)
The best pick of the Broncos’ 2015 class has to be Trevor Siemian. No, he didn’t solve the Broncos’ quarterback problem, nor should anyone have expected him to as a seventh-round pick.
From 2016 to 2017, Siemian started in 24 of the Broncos’ 32 games, posting a record of 13-11, making him the only quarterback with a winning percentage over .500 since Peyton Manning retired. That’s an incredible value for a seventh-round pick.
Worst: Ty Sambrailo, OT (Round: 2 Pick: 59)
John Elway’s first swing at solidifying the tackle position through the draft was a colossal failure.
Ty Sambrailo played in just 13 games for the Broncos, starting seven, and during that time was a walking human turnstile. After a mere two seasons, the Broncos gave up on Sambrailo and traded him to Atlanta for a fifth-round pick, where he’s been a subpar backup.
Best: Justin Simmons, FS (Round: 3 Pick: 98)
After a slow start to his career, Justin Simmons has played at an elite level this season, making him a legitimate contender for a first-team All-Pro spot.
This season, Pro Football Focus grades him as the best safety in the league, the best coverage safety in the league, the sixth-best run-defending safety, the second-best tackling safety, second-best coverage player overall and the fifth-best defender overall.
The Broncos must re-sign Simmons, whose contract expires this season, but he projects to be a star on the defense and the face of Denver’s secondary for years to come, and also might just be Elway’s best pick as a general manager.
Worst: Paxton Lynch, QB (Round: 1 Pick: 26)
There are no doubts about this selection.
No first-round quarterback since 2000 has played fewer games in the league than Lynch, not even Russell (25), Johnny Manziel (8) or Brady Quinn (20).
Best: Demarcus Walker, DE (Round: 2 Pick: 51)
The 2017 draft class is easily the worst of the John Elway era. For a sign of how bad it is, look no further than the fact that Garett Bolles is the most productive player in the class easily.
While Bolles may be the most productive, right now Demarcus Walker has been the best despite not making any impact until this season. He could finally see an opportunity next season depending on how much of the defensive line leaves in free agency.
Worst: Carlos Henderson, WR (Round: 3 Pick: 82)
There are so many different directions you could go with the worst pick of 2017.
Of the eight players drafted in 2018 seven of them have had almost no impact on the team, with the eighth, Bolles, having a negative one. That being said, Bolles has been a three-year starter and has at least given the Broncos something.
Carlos Henderson, on the other hand, didn’t suit up once for the Broncos. He spent the 2017 season on injured reserve and then was cut in August, before the start of the 2018 season due to off-the-field issues.
Best: Courtland Sutton, WR (Round: 2 Pick: 40)
Following the disastrous 2017 draft, Elway righted the ship and delivered a home run in 2018.
While the selections of Josey Jewell and Bradley Chubb are fantastic in their own right, the selection of Courtland Sutton was Elway’s best of the draft. Sutton has taken the league by storm this season, and much like Simmons, has emerged as a legitimate All-Pro contender.
What Sutton is doing could be viewed as even more impressive though because he’s relying on Brandon Allen, Joe Flacco and Rich Scangarello for his production.
Worst: Isaac Yiadom, CB (Round: 3 Pick: 99)
One of the few misses in the 2018 class, Isaac Yiadom has been an utter disappointment.
He struggled in 2018, but that’s to be expected from a rookie cornerback. Yiadom’s play became seriously concerning when he was consistently the worst player on the Broncos’ defense week in and week out.
Even as the secondary has been depleted by injury, he still can’t get on the field, as the Broncos would rather play a Patriots castoff (Duke Dawson) and a cornerback that couldn’t make the 0-11 Bengals’ final roster (Davontae Harris).
Honorable Mention: Phillip Lindsay, RB (Undrafted)
Phillip Lindsay didn’t make the list due to his status as an undrafted free agent. However, it’s hard to think of a move in recent years that was a bigger hit than his signing. Lindsay made a Pro Bowl as a rookie and transformed the Broncos; offense.
The thought of what that unit would look like without the presence of him and Sutton is enough to keep a Broncos fan up all night.