Several mock drafts have the Denver Broncos selecting a linebacker with the No. 31 pick in the first round. If they don’t take a linebacker in the first round, it seems like the Broncos would pick one at some point.
While Denver is missing a solid linebacker at the present time, they have had some stars at the position in the past.
Here are the five best in Broncos history:
Honorable mention: Al Wilson and Von Miller
Wilson was the emotional leader of the defense from 1999-2006. He was undersized and actually picked with the 31st pick. Wilson suffered a neck injury that ended his career but he is looked at as the rock in the middle of the defense the Broncos are still looking for.
Miller’s place on the list may become higher in the future if he stays out of trouble and the Broncos keep him on the roster. Despite a lost year, Miller is still one of the most feared pass-rushers in the league. He just still has a lot to prove.
5. Bill Romanowski 1996-2001
A lot of people hate Romanowski and wish he never even played for the Broncos. He was known for getting fined for cheap hits and had a spitting incident with J.J. Stokes.
But even with all the problems, Romanowski was still part of two title teams in Denver and was well liked by his teammates. He made two All-Pro teams in his first two seasons with the Broncos. He did finish his career with the Raiders which hurts his chances of being higher on this list.
4. Tom Jackson 1973-1986
Before Jackson was known for being an ESPN personality, he was part of the Orange Crush defense in Denver. Jackson’s stats were never eye popping but has was a solid linebacker on a tough defense. The Broncos made the playoffs six times and got to the Super Bowl twice during his tenure.
3. Simon Fletcher 1985-1995
For some reason Fletcher is not in the Broncos’ Ring of Fame but that is a debate for another day. Fletcher is the team’s all time leader in sacks with 97.5 sacks. The linebacker also held the sacks in a season record until Elvis Dumervil broke it. He had 10 straight games with a sack, too, amazing. One of the better pass rushers on his time but hardly got any due.
2. Karl Mecklenburg 1983-1994
The former 12th round pick is one of the most beloved Broncos in history. He recorded 70 sacks during his time in Denver and played in three Super Bowls. He was known for his versatility as he could play all three linebacker positions as well as any spot on the defensive line. He is in the Broncos’ Ring of Fame but will probably never get the call for Canton even though he may deserve it.
1. Randy Gradishar 1974-1983
Both Gradishar and Mecklenburg could be flipped between No. 1 and No. 2 but Gradishar takes the top spot. He was another member of the the Orange Crush and won Defensive Player of the Year in 1978. He also played in the Super Bowl in 1977.
Gradishar may never make the Hall of Fame but he should be considered. He was one of the best defensive players of his time.
Follow Chris on Twitter (@ChrisSchmaedeke).
Like this? Click here to read why the Broncos will move up and take C.J. Mosley in the first round of our Mock Draft 4.0.