Quarterback purgatory: It’s something no team wants to go through. You’re decent enough to win around eight games a season, but not bad enough to lock up a top-10 draft pick and take a true franchise quarterback.
That’s where the Denver Broncos were from 2006 to 2009. They went from Jake Plummer to Jay Cutler to Kyle Orton, none of whom won more than nine games in a single season.
What better way to fix that than to take the most talked about quarterback in the 2010 draft? Yep, that guy was Tim Tebow, and the Broncos fell in love with him.
After already selecting their future Pro Bowl wideout in Demaryius Thomas 22nd overall, the Broncos traded back into the first round to take none other than Tebow. Granted, they didn’t give away the farm, but the cost wasn’t cheap.
In order for Denver to nab Baltimore’s first-round pick (25th overall), the Broncos gave up a second-, third- and fourth-round pick in the 2010 draft. The Ravens turned two of those selections into key contributors, helping them win a Super Bowl two years later.
Here’s how the trade has played out after six years, including players the Broncos could have added if they didn’t move up for Tebow.
Tim Tebow, QB (first round): It took Tebow a year before he was handed the keys to the offense in Denver, and it probably should have taken longer — if at all. He made three starts in 2010 as a rookie, completing 50 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and three interceptions. He also rushed for 227 yards and six touchdowns. As a "sophomore" in 2011, Tebow took over for Orton in Week 5 after a 1-3 start. By Week 7, he was the starter, and remained so for the rest of the season.
He finished the year with 1,729 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions but completed just 46.5 percent of his passes. He managed to lead the Broncos to the playoffs and won the franchise’s first postseason game since 2005 with a dramatic, overtime win against the Steelers. In the AFC Championship, however, he was exposed by Bill Belichick and the Patriots … badly. He completed 9-of-26 passes for 136 yards in a 45-10 beatdown.
Now, Tebow is out of the NFL and failed to live up to the hype as a first-round quarterback. It was a bold move by the Broncos, but one that didn’t pan out the way they hoped. Following Tebow’s departure, Peyton Manning led Denver to two Super Bowls (one win) and four straight playoff berths.
Sergio Kindle, LB (second round): His name probably doesn’t ring a bell. That’s because he only played three games in the NFL. Kindle never panned out as a second-round pick, and he could have been selected much early had it not been for concerns about his oft-injured knee and off-the-field incidents. As a rookie, he fell down two flights of stairs at his home and suffered a skull fracture, forcing him to miss all of the season. In 2011, he saw the field for the first time in his career. It didn’t last long, though, as he played in two games. The next year, he was placed on the practice squad and never made an active NFL roster again. Notable players taken after Kindle: Daryl Washington, Carlos Dunlap, Sean Lee.
Ed Dickson, TE (third round): The first of two tight ends selected by the Ravens in 2010, Dickson has had his share of success in the NFL. He saw limited action as a rookie, but in 2011, his numbers skyrocketed. He caught what’s still a career-high 54 passes for 528 yards and five touchdowns. He played four seasons in Baltimore before joining the Panthers in 2014. This past season, he made his second Super Bowl appearance alongside Cam Newton, but wound up falling to the Broncos. As a third-round pick, Dickson has had a decent career and has played all 16 games four out of the six years he’s been in the league. Notable players taken after Dickson: Emmanuel Sanders, NaVorro Bowman, Jimmy Graham.
Dennis Pitta, TE (fourth round): It’s somewhat unheard of for a team to take a tight end in back-to-back rounds, but that’s exactly what the Ravens did. While he’s dealt with injury problems in recent years, Pitta was an integral part of the offense in 2012 when the Ravens won the Super Bowl. That year, he caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns. During the 2012 postseason, he had 14 receptions for 163 yards and three touchdowns in four games. He’s played seven games since. but his role on the Super Bowl-winning squad can’t be understated. Notable players taken after Pitta: Geno Atkins, Kam Chancellor.
Obviously, the trade for Tebow didn’t work out for the Broncos. They could have easily added several players in the 2010 draft to contribute right away, but hindsight is always 20-20. And Tebow did indeed help "lead" them to a playoff win, albeit largely thanks to the team’s defensive surge late in the year.