Posted Mon Jul 26th by Ian Henson
Since 1996 (and even before that) the Denver Broncos don’t have a rich history of their first round draft picks holding out and you’ll see that even when they do, two thirds of the time it has worked out all the same.
As a matter of fact, via a Denver litmus test following this season, it may actually be better for the team and their season if the rookie holds out.
A look at the Broncos first round draft picks since 1996 after the mouse punch.
|Year||Pick # – Name||Position – University|
|1996||#15 – John Mobley||LB – Kutztown|
|1997||#28 – Trevor Pryce*||DT – Clemson|
|1998||#30 – Marcus Nash||WR – Tennessee|
|1999||#30 – Al Wilson||LB – Tennessee|
|2000||#15 – Deltha O’Neal||CB – California|
|2001||#24 – Willie Middlebrooks||CB – Minnesota|
|2002||#19 – Ashley Lelie||WR – Hawaii|
|2003||#20 – George Foster||OT – Georgia|
|2004||#17 – DJ Williams||LB – Miami (FL)|
|2006||#11 – Jay Cutler||QB – Vanderbilt|
|2007||#17 – Jarvis Moss||DE – Florida|
|2008||#12 – Ryan Clady*||OT – Boise State|
|2009||#12 – Knowshon Moreno*||RB – Georgia|
|2009||#18 – Robert Ayers*||LB – Tennessee|
|2010||#22 – Demaryius Thomas**||WR – Georgia Tech|
|2010||#25 – Tim Tebow**||QB – Florida|
*- holdout into training camp **- currently unsigned
In the CE (common era) of Broncodom, it basically got to the point following Trevor Pryce’s rookie holdout where it didn’t matter who the team drafted or when they signed- the writing was basically on the wall for how that rookie would perform their rookie season (disappointingly to say it in Grandmother terms).
If you’re a veteran player and you’ve started the past season, a rookie drafted in your position in an early round (or even at all) serves as a wake up call. A harsh one at that. So you feel the young one nipping at your heels as your struggle to pull ahead and set distance between yourself and that rookie.
With Pryce in 1997 he was brought in as a defensive tackle to replace an aging Michael Dean Perry (or as some of your Cleveland and Ohioans may have known him ‘MDP’) and to compliment a very successful Maa Tanuvasa. Prior to the draft Keith Traylor was signed by Denver via free agency and now hung in the balance having returned to Denver after a couple of years with the Kansas City Chiefs. Unfortunately for Perry the combined strength of Traylor and Pryce soon allowed for the vet to become expendable and Perry ended his season and ultimately his career in a Chiefs uniform playing in only one more game following the trade.
Pryce’s holdout in camp forced Denver to retain Perry through the team’s first eight games of the season; with no assurance on how well Pryce could play the Broncos didn’t feel comfortable enough with rookie Pryce taking over and letting Perry go in the preseason.
Last season the Broncos brought in running backs Correll Buckhalter, LaMont Jordan and J.J. Arrington via free agency to compete with the sophomore surprise Peyton Hillis. Then the team surprised every draft board and picked Knowshon Moreno early in the first round of the 2009 draft. Then Moreno held out.
Moreno’s situation is a bit different, because Arrington was almost immediately cut from the team upon being signed and the team was forced to use a pick on Moreno immediately. Whether it was a savvy agent smelling blood in the water on Moreno’s side or the indecision of Michael Crabtree that delayed Moreno from signing in time to attend camp is not known by me. What I do know is that the Broncos did not use Moreno full-time hardly ever throughout the season and definitely seemed much more comfortable with Buckhalter early on. Buckhalter out performed Moreno in nearly every game through week five in Dallas when he was injured.
Now young Robert Ayers… He’s either a bust or the text book example of why one should sign prior to training camp and he could very well prove my thesis. That being a player’s going to either be good or bad, those two weeks in camp and four preseason games simply aren’t going to make you good if you’re doomed to failure. Ayers was (say it with me in Grandmother language please) disappointing in 2009 and unless he blows up in preseason, expect the same results that Denver’s got from Jarvis Moss thus far. Moss was injured four months into a so-so rookie season and never recovered.
A promising preseason doesn’t promise a good career though, just ask Jack ‘My Football’ Williams.
Of course, if you look at the number of undrafted rookie free agents that come into the league following the draft you already know that the amount of time a player puts in during OTA’s, training camp or preseason really has little to do with how they will ultimately perform in games or even if they will make the team. See any rookie who has ever been injured to return during the season and contributed or you can just see Percy Harvin or Michael Crabtree.