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Published on 04/02/2012 at Mon Apr 02 14:12.
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This is an opinion piece of the writer and doesn’t necessarily reflect the feelings of BroncoTalk and/or the other writers on staff.

We’re now entering the heavy pre-draft season in the NFL world, and every site, blog, twitter account, and message board is talking about their favorite team’s draft plans.  That or creating mock drafts, or talking about past drafts and “biggest draft mistakes”.  That said, it’s time to move on from one of the most cliche, re-treaded stories used in football media.  The drafting of a one Maurice Clarrett by Mike Shanahan.

Wonder what I’m talking about?  Start by looking here, here, and especially here.  That third link?  Shutdown Corner’s 10 biggest draft busts of the last decade.  Notice something?  ♪One of these things is not like the other..♫ 

  1. Charles Rogers, Round 1, #2 Overall
  2. JaMarcus Russell, Round 1, #1 Overall
  3. Peter Warrick, Round 1, #4 Overall
  4. Reggie Bush, Round 1, #2 Overall (I’d argue this one as well, but lets save that for Saints/Dolphin talk)
  5. Matt Leinart, Round 1, #10 Overall
  6. Maurice Clarett, Round 3, #101 Overall
  7. LaVar Arrington, Round 1, #2 Overall
  8. Courtney Brown, Round 1, #1 Overall
  9. Robert Gallery, Round 1, #3 Overall
  10. Mike Williams, Round 1, #10 Overall

Figured it out?  Clarett is a 3rd round (back end) pick thrown in hundreds of these lists with top of the first round guys.  Now I know what you’re saying, how can you actually defend Clarett?  I’m not going to, I’m here to defend the thought process of Denver’s front office in 2005.  We all know Clarett’s troubled finish to his college career.  You can read up on it at Wikipedia if you like.  What Shanny and company saw that day was a guy who averaged over 1000+ yards and 18 TDs while at Ohio State.

He was out of football two years and had a bad combine.  You think Mike cared about that?  Have you read Stephan Fatsis’ book?  Mike Shanahan runs one hell of a tight ship.  Of course he thought he could whip Clarett back into form come training camp.  The Corner’s article covers this here:

His 40 times at the combine were abysmal and he looked puffier than Vince Vaughn in Old School. But Mike Shanahan had made stars of less (Mike Anderson, anyone?)

Exactly, not just Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary, Tatum Bell, etc.  Shanny knew he had done it before and was ready to do it again.  Now this is where you have to factor in the mindset of a front office and the draft board.  Denver didn’t exactly have a Patriots sized cache of draft treasure that year.

Denver Broncos 2005 Draft Results
Round Pick Player Pos School
2 24(56) Darrent Williams CB Oklahoma St.
3 12(76) Karl Paymah CB Wash. St.
3 34(97) Domonique Foxworth CB Maryland
3 38(101) Maurice Clarett HB Ohio St.
6 26(200) Chris Myers OG Miami (FL)
7 25(239) Paul Ernster PK N. Arizona


No first round pick, check.  One 2nd round pick, check.  Three 3rd rounders, hmm.  2005 was year they decided to throw corners at the wall and see who stuck.  So what to do after that?  Take a gamble, try to hit a homerun because playing it safe again probably wasn’t going to pay off.  This is how you win big on draft day folks.  Pick your spots and gamble sometimes.  You don’t think Terrell Davis was sitting in the back of their minds?  He was a 2nd string Georgia runningback nobody wanted.  Also, lets not kid ourselves, there aren’t a ton of Elvis Dumervils hanging around in that 4th round just waiting to be selected.  Attempting to take a running back in the 3rd does much less damage to a franchise than missing on a guy like JaMarcus Russell.  I would even argue that the Knowshon Moreno selection by Josh McDaniels was a bigger blunder.  (He way still end up making these lists in the very near future.  Once again, different article)

"You know who was a rather dubious choice? That troubled young fellow from the University of Ohio."

The front office knew it was a boom or bust pick.  Clarett never played a regular season down for Denver, but that’s what happens when you gamble.  Sometimes that little ball lands on the little 00 green spot.  Sometimes you play your birthday on the wheel and come away with a Super Bowl MVP.  Nobody thought it was arrogant taking a player then.  General Managers with the exclusion of Matt Millen and maybe Vinny Cerrato aren’t graded this harsh for taking “risks” in the 3rd round, so why critique a guy so harshly?  It’s kind of childish, and yes I still like Shanahan and will stick up for his time in Denver.  (I’m not touching that Washington mess with a 10ft pole)  Look, nobody (except us) gives the Raiders a never ending hard time for drafting Quentin Moses in the 3rd round only to be cut before the season started.  Find a new thing to write about guys because it’s just getting tired.

  • Anonymous

    How can you have a “Worse Draft Pick of All-Time” and NOT mention Ryan Leaf?!?!

    Never mind. I read the list wrong. Didn’t see “last decade”, and with the whole Ryan Leaf in trouble again news, got it mixed up.

  • Anonymous

    Jarvis Moss didn’t make the list but Clarett did?  

  • Jon

    Love the beating the dead horse picture! And I agree, Josh, the horse died fifty times over and he was a third round pick.  Time to move on.

  • Anonymous

    I actually always thought the biggest draft bust by the Broncos was not drafting me. “Troglodyte” sure would have looked good on the back of an orange jersey! 

  • fj

    The problem with this pick is that Brandon Jacobs and Marion Barber were still out there….

  • Tim Lynch

    I met him once before he was run out of San Diego.  Total douchebag.  

    Oh in last decade…my bad. :)  Todd Moranovich anyone?

  • Tim Lynch

    Jarvis was 16th overall…notice only Clarett was not in top 10.  He was that bad apparently.

  • Tim Lynch

    But then we wouldn’t have seen Barber cough it up last year for more Tebow magic!  It all worked out for the best.  haha

  • Mattmontoya22

    I’d like to focus on Knowhands Morefumbles aka that Sauced guy and the fact that we are FINALLY almost completely cycled through the McDaniels drafts. Other than Eric Decker..a complete waste…TOP TO BOTTOM.

  • dbroncs24/7

    that’s a little harsh Demyrius, Beadles, ayers, walton are all starters, not saying their great but I really like Beadles and Ayers is coming along. I’m not a Tebow nut but McDaniels did draft him and we wouldn’t have gotten to the playoffs without him. He wasn’t the best drafter but he was young and given way too much power. 

  • Dweitzel

    Anybody remember Ted Gregory?  The worst first round bust in Bronco history!!!

  • Ian Henson

    LaVar Arrington made the Pro Bowl three times, I don’t understand this list… 

  • Mike Birtwistle

    Apart from Clarett that was a good draft.

  • Anonymous

    I always rooted for Clarett. He played his high school ball about 30 minutes from my hometown and we’d go watch anytime we could. Mo was a monster in HS. He played extremely well for Tressel (who was the local university coach: Youngstown State University) in his only year at OSU. But when Mo said he wanted to go pro, he was doomed. The snowball of poor decisions was an out of control avalanche. I wouldn’t call him a bust tho. The draft is like gambling. You win
    some, you lose some. I feel better missing on a 3rd than I do a first *cough* Moreno *cough*

  • Josh Temple

    But but but he didn’t become Lawrence Taylor so he is an obvious bust.  I just used Shutdown’s list because it was the clearest example of these idiotic lists.