Denver Broncos: Reviewing The 2010 NFL Draft Class

Going back in time to examine the Denver Broncos 2010 NFL Draft class to see which players developed into tremendous assets and which became busts.

The Denver Broncos had one of the most exciting drafts in recent history in 2010 with two first-round selections along with nine total draft picks. They also managed to make some big splashes by drafting Demaryius Thomas, Tim Tebow and Eric Decker.

Denver finished the 2009 season with an 8-8 record, while ranking 13th in the league in passing with 3,627 yards passing and ranking 18th in the league in rushing with 1,836 yards rushing. Their best win came during week five when they defeated a 3-2 Patriots team 20-17 in overtime.

The team had a lot of holes to patch up on both sides of the ball. Kyle Orton was the team’s starting quarter back and starting wide receiver Brandon Marshall was traded to the Miami Dolphins for a 2010 second-round draft pick and a 2011 second-round draft pick.

Things wasn’t much better on the defensive side of the ball. The secondary was aging with Brian Dawkins leading the secondary with 95 tackles. Cornerback Champ Bailey was also entering the finally stages of his career. Elvis Dumervil anchored the defense with 17 sacks but the rest of the pass rushing unit consisted of an over-the-hill Vonnie Holliday (age 34) and an inconsistent Darrell Reid.

The 2010 draft class was vital to the team’s resurgence and took part in leading the team to a Super Bowl victory in 2016. An argument can be made that without some of the talent in this draft class, the Denver Broncos would not have made multiple playoff runs nor won a Super Bowl. With that in mind, let’s examine every pick from the 2010 class and see how each player panned out.

Dec 18, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) runs through the tackle of New England Patriots outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy (53) in the third quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Round 1, Pick 22: Demaryius Thomas, WR — Georgia Tech

Denver made a trade with the New England Patriots, sending their first round pick (No. 24 overall) and fourth-round pick in order to move up to the 22nd spot in the draft to select Demaryius Thomas, wide receiver from Georgia Tech.

Thomas caught 46 receptions for 1,154 yards and eight touchdowns during his junior season while owning an remarkable 98.29 percent market share of the team’s passing production. As a team, Georgia Tech only managed to pass for 1,774 yards for the entire season, mostly due to their run-first offense.

At 6-3 and 224 pounds, Thomas had the optimal size for a clear-cut No. 1 receiver at NFL level. His size combined with his 4.41-second 40-yard dash makes him a miss-match for both cornerbacks and linebackers.

His athleticism translated to the NFL level as he was productive during most of his career. One of the biggest plays of his career came in the 2012 playoffs in the wild card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers when he caught an 80-yard game touchdown reception from quarterback Tim Tebow to win the game in overtime.

This pick worked out for the Broncos, considering that Thomas has caught 546 receptions for 7,704 yards and 52 touchdowns over the course of his career. He has caught over 1,000 yards in every season in the last five years while accumulating four Pro Bowl appearances during that time period.

Feb 3, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; ESPN analyst Tim Tebow poses for a photo on the red carpet at the ESPN the Party event in the Houston arts district. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Round 1, Pick 25, Tim Tebow, QB — Florida

The Broncos made a trade with the Baltimore Ravens sending their second-, third- and fourth-round picks to move up to the 25th spot in the first round to select Tim Tebow, quarterback from the University of Florida. Tebow was a popular selection since he won the hearts of many with his charismatic leadership.

Tebow left Florida as one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the program, ranking fourth all-time in the school’s history in passing with 9,285 yards. Not only was he one of the top passers in school history but he was also on the school’s top rushers, ranking sixth in the program’s history with 2,947 yards rushing. As one of the most polarizing players in college football history, Tebow scored an astounding 145 touchdowns during his collegiate career.

As a prospect, Tebow was touted for his leadership traits and his mobility in the pocket. He has a strong arm but his throwing motion was highly criticized. Other things that were criticized was his ability to take snaps under center and his feel in the pocket.

Although he was a highly recognized player, his NFL career had it’s ups and downs. His best season in Denver was in 2011 when he passed for 1,729 yards and 12 touchdowns while rushing for 660 yards and six touchdowns. What he was best known for as a Bronco was leading the team to a 29-23 upset victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card Round of the 2012 playoffs.

As a Bronco, Tebow passed for a total of 2,383 yards and 17 touchdowns while rushing for 887 yards and 12 touchdowns. After the 2011 season, he was traded along with a seventh-round pick to the New York Jets for a fourth- and a sixth-round pick. The trade allowed them to get something in return while allowing them to move in another direction with the quarterback position.

Was he a bust? The Broncos spent a bevy of picks to be able to move into the first round to acquire Tebow and the capital spent to be able to draft him could’ve been used some where else. Although he was exciting, his production was limited. One thing you can say about Tebow’s reign as a Bronco, was that he brought a lot of excitement to Mile High Stadium.

Oct 11, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars guard Zane Beadles (68) blocks during the second half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa won 38-31. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Round 2, Pick 45: Zane Beadles, OL — Utah

With the 45th pick in the second round the Denver Broncos selected Zane Beadles, offensive lineman from Utah where he was a four-year starter with a lot of experience under his belt.

Beadles was regarded as one of the top linemen in the 2010 draft class. His versatility provided a lot of value for NFL teams, because he could play both tackle and guard. He’s a very aggressive mauler and likes to use his power to “bully” defenders. One of the big draw backs to his game was his athleticism, because he lacked the short-area quickness to move laterally and pick up the defenders who were trying to rush around him, which is one of the reasons why played most of his NFL career at guard.

He started 62 games for the Broncos at left guard from 2010-13. Beadles also made it to the Pro Bowl in 2012 as a replacement for Patriots guard Logan Mankins. After the 2013 season he signed with the Jackson Jaguars to a five-year, $30 million contract with $13 million guaranteed.

Although he wasn’t an exciting second-round pick, he was more than palatable, considering his draft slot. Most picks in the second round wind up being role players or bust. Beadles did more than most second-round picks by playing in every single game of his career with the Broncos and by making it to a Pro Bowl. If anything, we should consider the Broncos selection of Beadles in the second round a win.

Sep 8, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Giants tight end Larry Donnell (84) celebrates with center J.D. Walton (55) after catching a pass for a touchdown during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Round 3, Pick 80: J.D. Walton, C — Baylor

With the 80th pick of the 2010 NFL Draft the Denver Broncos select J.D. Walton, center from Baylor. Walton was considered one of the top centers in his draft class and was the second center off the draft board.

Walton was very seasoned coming out of college starting in every game that he played in (36) and was considered one of the top centers in the nation. He was very solid at both run and pass blocking and was the typical road grading blocker by being very physical at the point of contact.

He started all 16 games in 2010 and 2011 with the Broncos, but was only able to play in four games during the 2012 season due to dislocating an ankle. The injury severely set him back and became his demise as the Denver Broncos decided to cut him on Dec. 2013. Since then, he has bounce around the league, playing for the Redskins, Giants, Dolphins and Chargers.

It’s hard to tell how Walton’s career would’ve turned out if he didn’t dislocate his ankle in 2012. His career mimics the run of the mill journeyman NFL player, bouncing from team to team, hoping to find a roster to latch onto. He wasn’t a total bust since the Broncos was able to get a few years of solid production out of him.

Jan 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker (87) runs the ball after a catch during the first quarter against New England Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan (26) during the 2013 AFC championship playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Round 3, Pick 87: Eric Decker, WR — Minnesota

The Denver Broncos selected Eric Decker in the third round (87th overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft. He was considered one of the best route runners in the draft class and one of the most polished wide receivers. He was not a popular pick at the time, but he earned his way to being a crowd favorite by being a highly productive player for the team.

Decker, who has very good size for a wide receiver, stands at 6-3 and weighed in at 217 pounds at the combine. He does a very good job at using his size to create enough separation from  defenders to make tough contested catches. He’s also a very savvy route runner who has the entire route tree at his disposal. He only had one red flag on his profile when coming out of college and that was his lack of speed.

The arrow started to point up for Decker’s career when legendary quarterback Peyton Manning showed up to Denver. He managed to catch at a total of 2,352 yards and 24 touchdowns combined over 2012-13. He finished the 2012 season second in the NFL with 13 receiving touchdowns.

Unfortunately for the Broncos, Decker outplayed his four-year contract and was to expensive to resign, causing him to sign a five-year deal with the New York Jets for $7.3 million a year in 2014.

Decker was a mid-round gem in the 2010 draft, and was considered a major impact player during his tenure with the Broncos. When you combine his production versus what the Broncos spent on him in draft capital, it’s not hard to see that Decker finished his four year escapade with the Broncos as one of the top surprise players from the 2010 draft.

Oct 16, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans cornerback Perrish Cox (20) caches a pass intended for Cleveland Browns running back George Atkinson (25) to defend against a touchdown during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Tennessee won 28-26. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Round 5, Pick 137: Perrish Cox, CB — Oklahoma State

The Denver Broncos selected Perrish Cox, cornerback from Oklahoma State in the the fifth to provide depth and possibly start in an aging defensive backfield. He wasn’t considered one of the top corner back prospects, but he was arguably ranked around the top 10 in his positional rankings.

As a prospect, Cox excelled in the height, weight, speed and athleticism categories amongst corner backs. His size allows him to bully receivers and knock them off their routes during press coverage. He also has the ability to run stride for stride with some of the fastest receivers in the league. One of the main red flags concerning his draft profiles, is that he’s a stiff-hipped runner, which limits his ability to move laterally, causing to easily to get tripped up by receivers in space.

He started nine games for the Broncos during his rookie season, accumulating 54 tackles, 14 pass deflections and one interception. It seemed that Cox was on pace for a promising career as a Bronco until Denver decided to severed ties by cutting him on Sept. 3, 2011 due to facing sexual assault charges, according to the Denver Post reported via a report by the Associated Press. After getting cut by the Broncos, Cox entered the career path of the typical journeyman NFL player by playing for the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans.

Cox provided one year or solid production for the Broncos, which is more than what most fifth-round draft picks achieve. Unfortunately, off the field issues caused his career with the team to prematurely end. There’s a lot of what-ifs when it comes to Cox’s tenure as a Bronco since he demonstrated a lot of potential during his rookie season. By subsiding all the speculations from his career trajectory based off his rookie season, we can strongly label him a flash in the pan, or a quickly bucked Bronco.

Aug 20, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; A general view of the Denver Broncos helmet before game against the San Francisco 49ers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The 49ers beat the Broncos 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Round 6, Pick 183: Eric Olsen, C — Notre Dame

The Denver Broncos selected Eric Olsen, center for Notre Dame in the fifth round with the hopes of grooming him to one day become their starting center. The Broncos goal was to have him compete with third round pick, J.D. Walton for the starting job.

This appeared to be a solid selection when the pick initially occurred, due to his experience as a 32 game starter for the Fighting Irish and his athleticism. He was considered one of the most athletic linemen at the combine, making him a very intriguing prospect.

He was on the team throughout his rookie season, providing depth for the interior of the offensive line. Unfortunately, he was cut right before the beginning of the 2011 season, ending his tenure with the Denver Broncos. Since his departure, he has bounced around the league with several other teams.

Denver got burned by this pick, Olsen lasted with the team for only one season and didn’t provide much of anything in terms of production during his rookie year. Most sixth-round picks typically bust. You will have a few outliers become productive starters, but most late-round picks only last a few years in the league or become lifelong role players.

Aug 20, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; A general view of the Denver Broncos helmet before game against the San Francisco 49ers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The 49ers beat the Broncos 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Round 7, Pick 225: Syd’Quan Thompson, DB — California

The Broncos elected to select Syd’Quan Thompson, defensive back form the University of California in the seventh round to hopefully provide depth in the secondary. Denver had an aging secondary going into the draft and one of their goals were to infuse as much youth as possible in hopes to back fill any lost talent in the near future.

Thompson was one of the most athletic cornerbacks in the draft and his short area quickness allowed him to match-up easily to most receiver in the short to intermediate sectors of the field. His size was one of the main reasons why he fell to the seventh round of the draft. Standing at 5-9, he lacked the height to cover taller receivers, making a liability in one-on-one coverage.

He played in 13 games during his rookie season, catching two interceptions while recovering three fumbles. Thompson also logged 12 tackles on the season. He ruptured his Achilles tendon, causing him to miss the 2011 season. Unfortunately, he was waived during roster cuts before the 2012 season, ending his tenure with the Broncos.

This was another failed pick for the Broncos as they only received one season of productivity from Thompson. Again, this is typical for a late-round pick, since most of them don’t usually stick with the team that drafted them. It’s hard to tell how his career would have turned out if he didn’t rupture his Achilles.

Nov 15, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; General view of the helmet of Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) on the sidelines before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Round 7, Pick 232: Jammie Kirlew, DL — Indiana

With their final pick in the draft the Broncos used their pick to snag Jammie Kirlew, defensive lineman from Indiana. He was drafted to provide depth for the defensive line as a pass rusher.

Kirlew was best known for his consistent effort and his fierce competitiveness on the football field. He had a really high football IQ and was one of the better defensive linemen in the country when it came to reading defenses. Unfortunately, he did not have the size nor the athleticism to make him a premium draft prospect in this draft class, causing him to fall to the seventh round.

He was one of the last picks in the draft, making him just a notch ahead of some of the undrafted free agents, therefore he was a long shot when it came to making an NFL team. He was cut by the Broncos before the 2010 season and before he could start his rookie campaign.

There a no busts this late in the draft since most players in this range are considered long shots to ever contributing for an NFL team. He was drafted to a be an extra body in camp with the hopes to eventually develop into an every down player for the Broncos. He didn’t develop quick enough for the Broncos, causing them to waive him before the 2010 began.

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