History of Denver Broncos First-Round NFL Draft Picks All Time

What's the story behind the Denver Broncos' acquisition of John Elway, and how has the team fared with the rest of its first-round NFL Draft picks since 1961?

The Denver Broncos have a rich history of first-round picks in the NFL Draft, spanning all the way back to the franchise’s inauguration in 1961. Many of the Broncos’ most notable acquisitions throughout history happened through trades, but the NFL Draft has always helped lay the foundation for one of the NFL’s most successful franchises.

Denver Broncos First-Round Draft Picks Throughout History

Across their team history, Denver has made four Hall of Fame selections in the first round. Upon joining the AFL in 1961, the Broncos hit the ground running with three Hall of Fame selections in their first seven drafts. They’d later draft Steve Atwater in 1989, bringing their total to four.

Denver’s most recognizable Round 1 Hall of Famer, however, is a player they traded for rather than selected outright. In the 1983 NFL Draft, Stanford QB John Elway was viewed as the next QB star and a surefire first-overall pick. However, he refused to play for the Baltimore Colts, who owned the first pick. Ultimately, the Colts dealt Elway to Denver after picking him, and Elway would go on to become an MVP and a two-time Super Bowl champ.

2024

  • Bo Nix | Pick 12
    QB, Oregon

2023

The Broncos traded the fifth pick to the Seattle Seahawks.

2022

The Broncos traded the ninth pick to the Seattle Seahawks.

2021

  • Patrick Surtain II | Pick 9
    DB, Alabama

2020

  • Jerry Jeudy | Pick 15
    WR, Alabama

2019

  • Noah Fant | Pick 20
    TE, Iowa

2018

  • Bradley Chubb | Pick 5
    DE, North Carolina State

2017

  • Garett Bolles | Pick 20
    OT, Utah

2016

  • Paxton Lynch | Pick 26
    QB, Memphis

2015

  • Shane Ray | Pick 23
    DE, Missouri

2014

  • Bradley Roby | Pick 31
    DB, Ohio State

2013

  • Sylvester Williams | Pick 28
    DT, North Carolina

2012

The Broncos traded the 25th pick to the New England Patriots.

2011

  • Von Miller | Pick 2
    LB, Texas A&M

2010

  • Demaryius Thomas | Pick 22
    WR, Georgia Tech
  • Tim Tebow | Pick 25
    QB, Florida

2009

  • Knowshon Moreno | Pick 12
    RB, Georgia
  • Robert Ayers | Pick 18
    DE, Tennessee

2008

  • Ryan Clady | Pick 12
    OT, Boise State

2007

  • Jarvis Moss | Pick 17
    DE, Florida

2006

  • Jay Cutler | Pick 11
    QB, Vanderbilt

2005

The Broncos traded the 25th pick to the Washington Commanders.

2004

  • D.J. Williams | Pick 17
    LB, Miami (FL)

2003

  • George Foster | Pick 20
    OT, Georgia

2002

  • Ashley Lelie | Pick 19
    WR, Hawaii

2001

  • Willie Middlebrooks | Pick 24
    DB, Minnesota

2000

  • Deltha O’Neal | Pick 15
    DB, California

1999

  • Al Wilson | Pick 31
    LB, Tennessee

1998

  • Marcus Nash | Pick 30
    WR, Tennessee

1997

  • Trevor Pryce | Pick 28
    DT, Clemson

1996

  • John Mobley | Pick 15
    LB, Kutztown (PA)

1995

The Broncos traded the 11th pick to the Cincinnati Bengals.

1994

The Broncos traded the 18th pick to the Minnesota Vikings.

1993

  • Dan Williams | Pick 11
    DE, Toledo

1992

  • Tommy Maddox | Pick 25
    QB, UCLA

1991

  • Mike Croel | Pick 4
    LB, Nebraska

1990

The Broncos forfeited the right to their first-round selection due to selecting Bobby Humphrey in the 1989 Supplemental Draft.

1989

  • Steve Atwater* | Pick 20
    DB, Arkansas

1988

  • Ted Gregory | Pick 26
    NT, Syracuse

1987

  • Ricky Nattiel | Pick 27
    WR, Florida

1986

The Broncos traded the 21st pick to the Cincinnati Bengals.

1985

  • Steve Sewell | Pick 26
    RB, Oklahoma

1984

The Broncos traded the 19th pick to the Baltimore Colts.

1983

  • Chris Hinton | Pick 4
    OT, Northwestern

1982

  • Gerald Willhite | Pick 21
    RB, San Jose State

1981

  • Dennis Smith | Pick 15
    DB, USC

1980

The Broncos traded the 20th pick to the New Orleans Saints.

1979

  • Kelvin Clark | Pick 22
    OT, Nebraska

1978

  • Don Latimer | Pick 27
    NT, Miami (FL)

1977

  • Steve Schindler | Pick 18
    G, Boston College

1976

  • Tom Glassic | Pick 15
    G, Virginia

1975

  • Louis Wright | Pick 17
    DB, San Jose State

1974

  • Randy Gradishar | Pick 14
    LB, Ohio State

1973

  • Otis Armstrong | Pick 9
    RB, Purdue

1972

  • Riley Odoms | Pick 5
    TE, Houston

1971

  • Marv Montgomery | Pick 12
    OT, USC

1970

  • Bobby Anderson | Pick 11
    RB, Colorado

1969

The Broncos traded the ninth pick to the San Diego Chargers.

1968

The Broncos traded the fourth pick to the San Diego Chargers.

1967

  • Floyd Little* | Pick 6
    RB, Syracuse

1966

  • Jerry Shay | Pick 4
    DT, Purdue

1965

The Broncos traded the fourth pick in the AFL Draft to the New York Jets.

1964

  • Bob Brown* | Pick 4
    DT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

1963

  • Kermit Alexander | Pick 5
    DB, UCLA

1962

  • Merlin Olsen* | Pick 2
    DT, Utah State

1961

  • Bob Gaiters | Pick 4
    HB, New Mexico State

*Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

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