American Football

Comparing Denver to the league in terms of drafting and developing players 2011-2019

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Washington Football Team v Denver Broncos
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

An update of the “second contract” study published last year

Outside of first-round picks which can be retained by their drafting team for five (or more if franchise-tagged) years, all other players who are drafted get a four-year NFL contract. These contracts are set by draft spot (unlike how it was long ago when rookies could negotiate their contracts).

Most of the players drafted in 2019 had their contracts expire at the end of last season and are (or were if they have signed already) free agents. The Broncos drafted six players in 2019. None of them will be on the team in 2023 (unless Dalton Risner takes a vet minimum deal to return to Denver as a backup). With the exception of Drew Lock, all of them played at least a few snaps last season, even Juwann Winfree, who played 35 offensive snaps for the Packers (and had one catch).

If you look back at the 2018 Bronco draft, we find that five of ten Bronco draftees from that draft were still actually taking snaps in the NFL in 2022. In fact the Broncos’ first five picks were, while the last five picks were not. So that seems like a fairly successful draft: no true busts, but also no late-round gems.

While this is only two years, I wanted to look back at previous drafts to see how the Broncos compare to the rest of the league.

To answer that, I pulled down the draft data for the entire league from each draft year going back to 2009. Why only go back to 2009 – Because I got lazy and didn’t want to got back to 2008 (or beyond), but also I realized that most players from the 2009 draft or earlier are no longer in the league. There were only four players drafted in 2009 who were still playing in 2022.

If you look at the “TO” column in the draft data it shows the last season where a player took snaps. For players like Lock, who were on a roster but didn’t play, they would not have counted as playing into 2022, but for ease of data gathering, I will discount those guys who show 2021 or less as their “TO” year.

If you do this analysis you get the table below


The Ravens and the Bengals have the most players still in the NFL that they drafted with 34 while the Jets have less than half of that with only 16. The Broncos are tied with a number of teams who had 23 (tied for 27th or 21st depending on your bent).

Two things to remember about this analysis

  1. This does not factor in undrafted free agents (they are hard to track because there is no database of un-drafted players signed by a given team by year – other than the spreadsheet that I have created over the years).
  2. This does not look at return on draft capital. Because of how bad they have been over this entire timespan, the Jets have probably had the most draft capital to spend and they have done the least with it (by this analysis). Contrast that with a team that has consistently won like the Patriots (t-8th) who have probably had close to the least (if not the least) draft capital to spend.

The Broncos had 89 total picks from 2009 to 2022 and 23 of those (26%) were still taking snaps in 2022. Since there were so few players in the league from before the 2011 draft (only about 25 in 2022) let’s focus on 2011 to 2019.

Below is the “success rate” by franchise, looking at percentage of guys they drafted 2011 to 2019 who were still taking snaps in the NFL during the 2022 season.


This tells about the same story that the previous data did. The Broncos were not very good at drafting AND developing players while John Elway was the GM. Elway’s first draft was essentially 2012. His last draft was the 2020 draft.

If you want a view of the draft capital involved you can look at how many picks by round each team has had during this timespan (below)


The Broncos have had eight first-round picks during these nine drafts which is average. The Chiefs have had the least with six while the Vikings have had the most with 14. The Broncos are tied with two other teams for the most second-round picks with 12.

I find it interesting to see which teams see little value in Day 3 picks and which teams buy as many lottery tickets as they can on day three. The Saints only had 29 day three picks over these nine drafts while the Seahawks had more than double that with 62.

What does this look like for the Broncos? See the table below for all 69 picks and the 23 who were still playing in 2022.

vRk Year Rnd Pick Player Pos DrAge From To
1 2019 1 20 Noah Fant TE 21 2019 2022
2 2019 2 41 Dalton Risner T 24 2019 2022
3 2019 2 42 Drew Lock QB 22 2019 2021
4 2019 3 71 Dre’Mont Jones DT 22 2019 2022
5 2019 5 156 Justin Hollins LB 23 2019 2022
6 2019 6 187 Juwann Winfree WR 23 2019 2022
7 2018 1 5 Bradley Chubb DE 22 2018 2022
8 2018 2 40 Courtland Sutton WR 22 2018 2022
9 2018 3 71 Royce Freeman RB 22 2018 2022
10 2018 3 99 Isaac Yiadom CB 22 2018 2022
11 2018 4 106 Josey Jewell ILB 23 2018 2022
12 2018 4 113 DaeSean Hamilton WR 23 2018 2020
13 2018 5 156 Troy Fumagalli TE 23 2019 2020
14 2018 6 183 Sam Jones G 22 2018 2018
15 2018 6 217 Keishawn Bierria ILB 23 2018 2019
16 2018 7 226 David Williams RB 24 2018 2018
17 2017 1 20 Garett Bolles T 25 2017 2022
18 2017 2 51 DeMarcus Walker DE 22 2017 2022
19 2017 3 82 Carlos Henderson WR 22
20 2017 3 101 Brendan Langley CB 22 2017 2018
21 2017 5 145 Jake Butt TE 22 2018 2020
22 2017 5 172 Isaiah McKenzie WR 22 2017 2022
23 2017 6 203 De’Angelo Henderson RB 24 2017 2018
24 2017 7 253 Chad Kelly QB 23 2018 2018
25 2016 1 26 Paxton Lynch QB 22 2016 2017
26 2016 2 63 Adam Gotsis DT 23 2016 2022
27 2016 3 98 Justin Simmons S 22 2016 2022
28 2016 4 136 Devontae Booker RB 24 2016 2021
29 2016 5 144 Connor McGovern G 23 2017 2022
30 2016 6 176 Andy Janovich FB 23 2016 2021
31 2016 6 219 Will Parks S 22 2016 2022
32 2016 7 228 Riley Dixon P 23 2016 2022
33 2015 1 23 Shane Ray DE 22 2015 2018
34 2015 2 59 Ty Sambrailo T 23 2015 2021
35 2015 3 92 Jeff Heuerman TE 22 2016 2019
36 2015 4 133 Max Garcia C 23 2015 2022
37 2015 5 164 Lorenzo Doss CB 21 2015 2018
38 2015 6 203 Darius Kilgo NT 23 2015 2018
39 2015 7 250 Trevor Siemian QB 23 2015 2022
40 2015 7 251 Taurean Nixon DB 24 2016 2016
41 2015 7 252 Josh Furman DB
42 2014 1 31 Bradley Roby DB 22 2014 2022
43 2014 2 56 Cody Latimer WR 21 2014 2019
44 2014 3 95 Michael Schofield OL 23 2015 2022
45 2014 5 156 Lamin Barrow LB 23 2014 2015
46 2014 6 207 Matt Paradis OL 24 2015 2021
47 2014 7 242 Corey Nelson LB 22 2014 2019
48 2013 1 28 Sylvester Williams DT 24 2013 2020
49 2013 2 58 Montee Ball RB 22 2013 2014
50 2013 3 90 Kayvon Webster DB 22 2013 2019
51 2013 5 146 Quanterus Smith DE 23 2014 2014
52 2013 5 161 Tavarres King WR 23 2014 2017
53 2013 6 173 Vinston Painter G 23 2014 2017
54 2013 7 234 Zac Dysert QB 23
55 2012 2 36 Derek Wolfe DT 22 2012 2020
56 2012 2 57 Brock Osweiler QB 21 2012 2018
57 2012 3 67 Ronnie Hillman RB 20 2012 2016
58 2012 4 101 Omar Bolden DB 23 2012 2015
59 2012 4 108 Philip Blake OL 26
60 2012 5 137 Malik Jackson DT 22 2012 2021
61 2012 6 188 Danny Trevathan LB 22 2012 2021
62 2011 1 2 Von Miller LB 22 2011 2022
63 2011 2 45 Rahim Moore DB 21 2011 2015
64 2011 2 46 Orlando Franklin T 23 2011 2017
65 2011 3 67 Nate Irving LB 23 2011 2015
66 2011 4 108 Quinton Carter DB 23 2011 2014
67 2011 4 129 Julius Thomas TE 23 2011 2017
68 2011 6 189 Mike Mohamed LB 23 2011 2015
69 2011 7 204 Virgil Green TE 23 2011 2020
70 2011 7 247 Jeremy Beal DL 23

Guys with a blank in the “from” column never played a snap in the NFL. The Broncos had six of those which is bad, but not the worst. I wrote about this in the past (but I can’t seem to find that URL at the moment)

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