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Ranking the 100 Greatest Broncos of All-Time: 100-91

Counting down to the GOAT.
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The Denver Broncos became a franchise in 1960, and since then, many people have either donned the orange and blue jersey, coached, or held ownership of the team. It is a difficult task to winnow down the greatest 100 in Broncos history when examining 60 years of those who've left an impression on the field, in the front office, or at the top of the food chain.

For this Top 100 list, only those who impacted the Broncos were included. Some players may have been great in the NFL, but these ranking are for their time with the organization (for example, Tony Dorsett doesn’t make the cut).

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First, a few honorable mentions before the list begins:

RB Mike Anderson: A sixth-round pick that surprised the league as a rookie, rushing for 1,487 yards and 15 touchdowns. Anderson broke the rookie single-game rushing record, rumbling for 251 yards against the New Orleans Saints.

LB Michael Brooks: Most fans have no idea who Brooks is, but he was a tackling machine at inside linebacker. You will not find another defender, outside of Randy Gradishar, who had more tackles over a four-year period for the Broncos. His 1992 season was worthy of Defensive Player of the Year consideration: 170 tackles, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, a touchdown, and an interception.

DB Darrent Williams: A potentially brilliant career lost to tragedy. Legendary Denver coach Mike Shanahan had been desperately searching for a competent cornerback opposite Champ Bailey and found that in Williams. In two seasons, he recorded six interceptions, two touchdowns, and four fumble recoveries. An absolute star in the making.

DE Maa Tanuvasa: Tanuvasa contributed more than just an incredible name during the Broncos' back-to-back Super Bowl championships. He was a spark in the defensive line rotation, notching 8.5 sacks in both 1997 and 1998. His contribution to those Super Bowl runs was significant.

Now, the list:

No. 100: RB Steve Sewell

Sewell was not a great rusher for the Broncos — in fact, he tallied just 917 career rushing yards — but he was a very valuable receiver out of the backfield. He ranks 20th on the Broncos' all-time receiving yards list, second to only Floyd Little for running backs. He makes the Top 100 list, in part, due to his contribution to one of the greatest moments in Broncos history, The Drive. His 36 receiving yards accounted for over a third of the 98 yards necessary to tie the game. If not for Sewell, that event may never have become one of the defining moments for John Elway and the Broncos.

No. 99: LB Alfred Williams

A University of Colorado alum, Williams was destined to play for the Broncos.  However, then-HC Dan Reeves elected to draft Mike Croel instead, dashing Broncos Country’s hopes to see Williams in the orange and blue. Williams was instead selected by the Cincinnati Bengals and took the long road to the Mile High City. When he finally arrived, he was a key component of the Broncos' championship run. In 1996, he was voted a first-team All-Pro with 13 sacks. That season ended in heartbreak, but the next season, Williams chipped in 8.5 sacks on the way to the first Broncos Super Bowl victory. In the playoffs, Williams had two huge sacks in a hard-fought 14-10 win versus the Kansas City Chiefs. One of those sacks came on the final drive, a ten-yard loss that knocked the Chiefs out of Denver territory and was key to moving on in the playoffs.

No. 98: RB Clinton Portis

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Clinton Portis is widely known as the essential piece in the trade that brought Hall of Fame cornerback Champ Bailey to the Broncos. However, in his first two seasons with the team prior to the trade, he was phenomenal. In both, he rushed for over 1,500 yards and tallied a whopping 5.5 yards per carry, and threw in 29 total rushing touchdowns in those two years. He still ranks eighth on the Broncos all time rushing list and first in yards per game (106.9).

No. 97: QB Jake Plummer

The Broncos were in desperate need of competent quarterbacking in 2003 and Shanahan took a chance on Plummer, who was an exciting player, but definitely not great in his time with the Cardinals. Plummer came through with career-best seasons and led the 2005 Broncos to the precipice of the Super Bowl. The Snake won 72% of the games he started for Denver.

No. 96: OL Jerry Sturm

Sturm was stationed up and down the offensive line in the very early days of the franchise. His play and versatility landed him in the AFL All-Star game twice, at two different positions, amid six seasons in Denver. He was one of the few bright spots on a new organization struggling to find its footing.

No. 95: RB/FB Jon Keyworth

In the 1970s, fullbacks were more than just an extra blocker like they are today. They carried the ball often and contributed to the offense as a weapon. Keyworth was one of those fullbacks, an integral piece of the platoon-style rushing attack in the 1977 Broncos' run to the Super Bowl. He still lands in the Top 10 for both career rushing and rushing touchdowns for Denver.

No. 94: OL Matt Lepsis

A former undrafted free agent, Lepsis started 133 of a possible 150 games for the Broncos. He held down the right tackle position for five seasons, then moved into the left tackle spot for an additional four seasons. Lepsis went under the radar for most NFL observers, but he was a solid lineman, athletic enough to be an effective piece in Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme that churned out several 1,000-yard rushers.

No. 93: RB Sammy Winder

Winder often graced Broncos fans with the unique touchdown celebration called the Mississippi Mud Walk. He was a tough runner with a nose for the end zone, ranking sixth all-time for touchdowns in club history. He wasn’t gifted with incredible size or speed, but he churned out enough yardage in his nine seasons to rank third in career rushing for the orange and blue. He was also a key part of three Super Bowl berths and went to the Pro Bowl twice.

No. 92: DL Dave Costa

Costa’s career with the Broncos started in the AFL and ended after the merger. In his time in Denver, he never missed a game and went to three straight AFL All-Star games. He had 37.5 sacks in those five seasons, including 11.5 in fourteen games in 1969. He was a tough defensive tackle who, Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath said, “gave [me] the worst hit of my entire career.” The photograph of Namath flying through the air from the tackle became one of the iconic pictures of that time period. Costa also started the Dave Costa’s All-Stars, a Denver-based basketball team to help teammates stay in shape during the offseason and raise money for charity.

No. 91: P/WR Billy Van Heusen

Van Heusen did it all. He is credited with punting, receiving, rushing, and even passing stats during his career. His main contributions were as a punter. He once led the NFL in both punts and punt yardage. Van Heusen still ranks second in Denver history for punting yardage, number of punts, and long punt (78 yards). He had five seasons in the NFL Top 10 for gross yardage during his nine years of service. Jim Saccomano described him as the most athletic punter in Broncos history; he also averaged 20.5 yards per catch and even had a 66-yard touchdown run on a fake punt.