Denver Broncos: Vance Johnson

No. 31 in Broncos draft history

April, 30, 2014
Apr 30
7:30
AM ET
Barring a move, the Denver Broncos sit at No. 31 in next week's first round of the NFL draft.

While the team's decision-makers will certainly listen to offers to move out of that spot, particularly if they can gain a pick in a deal, should they stay put and make a pick, the Broncos will do something they've done only one other time since the NFL added the Baltimore Ravens as the league's 31st team in 1996.

And that's make a first-round pick at No. 31.

They've been in that slot just one other time in the opening round -- for the 1999 draft -- and you'd have to say they're 1-for-1 there. With the 31st pick in the '99 draft the Broncos selected linebacker Al Wilson.

At the time, Wilson was considered as a slightly undersized, but athletic inside linebacker after checking in at the '99 scouting combine at 5-foot-11 3/4-inches tall and 239 pounds. Wilson ran a 4.56 40-yard dash in Indianapolis that year and, coupled with his leadership as well as his passion for the game, was very much a coveted player in that draft.

Before his retirement following a neck injury he suffered in 2006, Wilson was an unquestioned leader in the Broncos' locker room on the way to five Pro Bowl selections.

In the years before the last two rounds of league expansion that added the Ravens and the Houston Texans, the Broncos made three selections in the second round of the draft with the 31st pick.

That total included wide receiver Vance Johnson in the 1985 draft. Johnson was the first of two second-round picks the team made that year with the franchise's all-time sack leader, Simon Fletcher, was the other.

The Broncos also used the 31st pick in the 1983 draft -- the same year they made a fairly significant move at quarterback -- to select University of Miami tackle Mark Cooper. Cooper started a Super Bowl for the team and did have a 13-yard reception in his career, on a pass from one John Elway, late in the '85 season.

And in the one-that-really-got-away department, the Broncos selected Hall of Fame nose tackle Curley Culp with the 31st pick in the 1968 AFL draft. Culp, who had shown plenty of quickness and balance on the way to an 84-11-1 record as a heavyweight wrestler at Arizona State (with 42 career pins), was traded by the Broncos to the Kansas City Chiefs in his first training camp after, Culp has said, the Broncos had also tried him at guard.

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