The 15 Worst Draft Picks in the Mike Shanahan Era

Neil PowellCorrespondent IApril 13, 2009

CLEVELAND - NOVEMBER 6:  Head coach Mike Shanahan of the Denver Broncos looks at the scoreboard against the Cleveland Browns during the fourth quarter of their NFL game at Cleveland Browns Stadium November 6, 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

The 2009 NFL draft is just around the corner and Denver Broncos' fans are wondering how the new regime led by coach Josh McDaniels will approach it. 

Mike Shanahan had one of the more successful tenures in NFL history in his years with the Broncos winning back-to-back Super Bowls and many division titles.

However, it was the play of his defense in his last few seasons in Denver that ultimately led to his demise and firing after the 2008 season.

Looking over his record in the draft, you might not have to go very far to understand what may have been the reason for the lack of talent on that side of the ball.

As good of an offensive mind as "Shanny" was, he left a lot to be desired when it came to analyzing players coming into the league.

Here's a look at the 15 worst draft picks in the Shanahan era:

15.  PHIL YEBOAH-KODIE 1995  Fifth Round - Pick 146  LB Penn State 

It was a close call for the 15 spot, but Yeboah-Kodie won out on his name alone. Drafted out of Penn State 1995 he was cut in training camp never to play a game with the Broncos. Played for the Redskins and Panthers ('95) and the Colts ('96), but never recorded a tackle in the NFL.

Other players drafted close:  Gary Walker (159), Cory Schlesinger (192), Terrell Davis (196), Adam Timmerman (230)

14. ASHLEY LELIE  2002  First Round - Pick 19  WR  Hawaii

Lelie, started in 22 games for the Broncos and made a few plays in his time there, but his 3,007 yards and 12 tds in four years in Denver didn't add up to the No. 19 overall pick.  Lelie has also played for the Falcons ('06), 49ers ('07) and last season with the Raiders. 

Other players drafted close:  Javon Walker (20), Daniel Graham (21), Ed Reed (24), Lito Sheppard (30), Jabar Gaffney (33), Andre Gurode (37)

13.  TIM CROWDER  2007  Second Round - Pick 56  DE  Texas

Putting pressure on the quarterback has not been a strong point of the Denver defense in the last few seasons and drafting Crowder in the second round in 2007 hasn't helped the cause. 

Crowder appeared in 13 games in his rookie season collecting 16 tackles and four sacks, but played in only six games last season.  He had one tackle and no sacks.

Other players drafted close:  Stewart Bradley (87), Trent Edwards (92), Le'Ron McClain (137), Steve Breaston (142)

12.  JARVIS MOSS  2007  First Round - Pick 17  DE  Florida

I guess you could say that the book is still out on the former BCS champion from Florida.  In his rookie season he played in six games and had 12 tackles and one sack before breaking his shin in practice ending his season. 

In '08, he did bounce back to play in 12 games, but his 12 tackles and 2.5 sacks did nothing to justify a first round pick.

Others players drafted close:  Michael Griffin (19), Aaron Ross (20), Jon Beason (25), Anthony Gonzalez (32), LaMarr Woodley (46)

11.  LENNIE FRIEDMAN 1999  Second Round - Pick 61  G  Duke

Friedman battled back from tearing his ACL in his rookie season to start 22 games from 2000-'01, but the Broncos should have gotten more than three seasons for a second round pick.  Friedman also played for the Redskins ('03-05), Bears ('05), and Browns ('07) making just two more starts in his career.

Other players drafted close:  Joey Porter (73), Marty Booker (78), Chike Okeafor (89)

10.  DORSETT DAVIS  2002  Third Round - Pick 96  DT  Mississippi State

Double D was a bust for the Broncos playing just two seasons in Denver. From 2002-'04 he amassed only 10 tackles and one pass deflection.  These were his only seasons in the NFL.

Other players drafted close:  David Thornton (106), David Garrard (108), Kevin Curtis (127), Larry Foote (128)

9.  ERIC BROWN 1998  Second Round - Pick 61  S  Mississippi State

Brown played three seasons on the Denver defense and recorded 77 tackles and six interceptions.  He then moved on to play with the Texans until 2004 ending his career with 256 tackles and nine interceptions. 

Other players drafted close:  Jamal Williams (Supplemental 2nd/3rd round), Olin Kreutz (64), Leonard Little (65), Jerry Trotter (72), Ahman Green (76)

8.  CHRIS WATSON  1999  Third Round - Pick 67  CB  Eastern Illinois

A special-teams player for only one season with the Broncos, Watson was cut after his rookie campaign.  He went on to play for Bills ('00-'02) and Lions ('03).

Others players drafted close:  Joey Porter (73), Marty Booker (78), Chike Okeafor (89), Brandon Stokley (105), Dexter Jackson (113)

7.  NICK HARRIS  2001  Fourth Round - Pick 120  P  California

You can't draft a punter in the fourth round if you are not going to use him.  The Broncos did just that in 2001 cutting Harris before the regular season.  Never played a game in the NFL. 

Others players drafted close:  Correll Buckhalter (121), Justin McCareins (124), Edgerton Hartwell (126), Cedrick Wilson (169)

6.  JEREMY LESUEUR  2004  Third Round - Pick 85  CB Michigan

LeSueur would only play for the Broncos in his rookie season and did not appear in a game.  He went on to play for the Jets ('05) and Browns ('06) seeing time in just two games in his NFL career.  He played last season for the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League. 

Others players drafted close:   Matt Schaub (90), Landon Johnson (96), Shaun Phillips (98), Nathan Vasher (110), Will Allen (111)

5.  TERRY PIERCE  2003  Second Round - Pick 51  LB  Kansas State

For a mid-second round pick one would think a team would get more than two seasons and eight tackles out of that player.  That's all the Broncos got from one of the worst picks in franchise history.  Was out of the NFL after the 2004 season.

Others players drafted close:  Anquan Boldin (54), Osi Umenyiora (56), L.J. Smith (61), Lance Briggs (68), Jason Witten (69)

4.  PAUL TOVIESSI  2001  Second Round - Pick 51  DE Marshall

The 2001 NFL draft was Shanahan's worst.  The Broncos used the No. 52 pick on a player that never played a down for the team, or any other team in the NFL for that matter. 

Others players drafted close:  Chris Chambers (52), Travis Henry (58), Adrian Wilson (64), Steve Smith (74), Kevan Barlow (80)

3.  Maurice Clarette 2004  3rd Round - Pick 101  RB  Ohio State

Drafting the troubled Clarette out of OSU had everyone shaking their head. It seems that the only person on earth that didn't know his background was Shanahan. Clarette, who was cut that season in training camp, is now blogging from his prison cell. He was arrested for robbery, carrying a concealed weapon, and resisting arrest. 

He robbed two college students at gun point in a fast food parking lot. Then he was pulled over (with spike strips) and in his SUV they found assault weapons, a huge knife and a bottle of Grey Goose. The police officers tried to tase him, but he was wearing a Kevlar vest that prevented that from working. 

They finally subdued him with mace.

Others players drafted close:  Marion Barber III (109), Brandon Jacobs (110), Kerry Rhodes (123), Darren Sproles (130), Trent Cole (146)

2.  MARCUS NASH 1998  First Round - Pick 30  WR  Tennessee

Despite earning two Super Bowl rings (Broncos/Ravens) Nash never lived up to a No. 1 pick. He played just two season for the Broncos. In his rookie season he had four receptions for 76 yards.

In 1999, he did not record a catch and was released in midseason. He was then signed by the Ravens for the remainder of the '99 season and for 2000. 

He played in just one game for the Ravens and did not have a reception.  He did go on to win Offensive Player of the Year in the Arena League for the Dallas Desperados in 2004.

Others players drafted close:  Flozell Adams (38), Patrick Surtain (44) Samari Rolle (46)

1.  WILLIE MIDDLEBROOKS  2001 1st Round - Pick 24  CB  Minnesota

During a period in time when the Broncos needed help on defense, they took a huge swing-and-miss with Middlebrooks in the first round of the 2001 draft. Starting just one game in four seasons with the Broncos, the super-bust had only 66 tackles and no interceptions in his time with Denver. 

Played briefly in 2005 with the 49ers and now plays for the Toronto Argonaughts of the Canadian Football League.

Others players drafted close:  Reggie Wayne (30), Todd Heap (31), Drew Brees (32), Kyle VandenBosch (34), Alge Crumpler (35), Chad Johnson (36), Matt Light (48)


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