Continuing my review of the Denver Broncos' best and worst draft picks since 2011, it's time to switch gears to the second round.
Some people tend to think John Elway had trouble finding quality players in the second round. There was a period in which he wasn't doing well, but he's found starters plenty of times.
Among those players, who were the best and worst? Here are my picks.
Best Second-Rounder: Derek Wolfe | DE | 2012
The Broncos traded down in the first round of the 2012 draft, then completely traded out of Round 1. When Denver finally picked in the second round, it selected Wolfe.
Wolfe went on to start all 16 games as a rookie and added to the pass rush right away. His 2013 season ended after 11 games because of injuries, but he came back in 2014 to start 16 games again.
He then turned his best season as a pro in 2015 with 5.5 sacks and 13 QB hits in 12 games, a season that arguably made him worth a Pro Bowl selection. Wolfe was extended after the season and went on to start 53 games over the next four years.
The Broncos eventually moved on, but they got a lot in return from that second-round pick invested in Wolfe. It's possible a player like Courtland Sutton or Dalton Risner could surpass him, but for now, Wolfe is Denver's best second-rounder since 2011.
Worst Second-Rounder: Montee Ball | RB | 2013
Some will point to Brock Osweiler not turning into the franchise QB, while others may hold skepticism of Drew Lock. However, my pick was a player who failed to finish his rookie deal with the Broncos.
Reportedly, the Broncos wanted Le'Veon Bell in the 2013 draft, but when the Pittsburgh Steelers took him first, Elway settled for Ball. The former Wisconsin star began his rookie season slowly, but played better down the stretch, finishing with a 4.7 yards-per-carry average on 120 rushing attempts.
However, Ball's 2014 season was a disappointment. He played in just five games and was surpassed by C.J. Anderson on the depth chart. Then, in 2015, Ball was on the roster bubble and, though he survived the initial cut-down to 53 players, he was released two days later after the Broncos made waiver claims.
Off the field, Ball was arrested for domestic violence and we learned later that he battled alcoholism. Much to his credit, he overcame his addiction and now serves as an outreach specialist for Wisconsin Voices of Recovery.
It is unfortunate things didn't work out for Ball with the Broncos — and his short time with the team and relative lack of impact makes him the worst second-round pick since 2011 — but he deserves praise for getting his life together and seeking to help others who are going through similar struggles.
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