ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Breaking down one of the riskiest draft moves by the Denver Broncos over the past 25 years:
Round/overall selection: The 2010 draft class featured three of the team's higher-risk picks in Demaryius Thomas (Round 1, No. 22 overall), Tim Tebow (Round 1, No. 25 overall) and Eric Decker (Round 3, No. 87 overall).
Did the moves pay off? Thomas and Decker were coming off foot injuries. Thomas suffered a fracture in a pre-combine workout, and Decker’s senior season at Minnesota had ended with a Lisfranc injury. Both did not do a full workout for the team before the draft. In the same draft the Broncos also traded three picks (second-, third- and fourth-round picks) to get back into the first round to take Tebow. That was plenty of draft capital to acquire the chance to select Tebow almost two rounds sooner than many teams had him on their boards.
Thomas has been one of the most dominant receivers in the league -- he has more than 1,300 yards in each of the past four seasons and has 41 touchdown catches in that time -- while Decker had two 1,000-yard seasons with the Broncos before leaving in free agency to sign with the Jets, where he added another 1,000-yard season last year. Tebow played two seasons with the Broncos. While he was 7-4 as a starter in 2011 and added a playoff win, he was traded following that season after the Broncos signed Peyton Manning. He has not appeared in an NFL game since playing for the Jets in 2012.
Was there a safer move? The Broncos trusted their medical reports on Thomas and Decker, and both developed into front-line players after fully recovering from their injuries. Many personnel executives in the league felt like the Broncos surrendered too much in the trade to take Tebow, as players such as Emmanuel Sanders, NaVorro Bowman, Jimmy Graham, Alterraun Verner, Geno Atkins and Kam Chancellor would have been available with the Broncos’ third- or fourth-round picks they had traded away.