Over the next few days, we’ll break down some of Shanahan’s drafts by position. If the past is prelude, maybe we can learn something about where he might go in the draft that starts on Thursday and how much success the players drafted might have going forward.
Today, we’ll look at defensive backs.
Details of each player’s draft status are at the bottom of the article.
Cornerback Deltha O’Neal had an excellent nine-year career after Shanahan made him the 15th overall pick in the 2000 draft. He made two Pro Bowls, one with the Broncos in 2001 and another with the Bengals in 2005. In that ’05 season he was named a first-team All-Pro as he led the league with 10 interceptions. O’Neal also exhibited great skill with the ball in his hand, scoring six career touchdowns (2 PR, 1 KR, 3 INT return).
O’Neal represents a pattern of Shanahan-drafted defensive backs who have good careers with a lot of their success coming after leaving the Broncos. He drafted just one other Pro Bowl performer in Tory James, who never quite caught on in three years in Denver. He became a solid starter in Cincinnati, starting every game for four years and making the 2004 Pro Bowl. Safety Kenoy Kennedy played in 115 games with Denver and Detroit. We will never know how good Darrent Williams may have been. He had just completed a promising second season when he was gunned down after leaving a nightclub in 2006. DeJon Gomes started five games at safety for the Redskins in 2011 and will compete for a starting job this year.
Willie Middlebrooks, the 24th overall pick in the 2001 draft, was a certified first-round bust. He started just two games, never intercepted a pass, and washed out after a domestic violence arrest in 2004. The 46ers picked him up in 2005 but he played in only five games there before they cut him loose.
Third-round pick Jeremy LeSueur never saw the field for the Broncos and played just two NFL games and fourth-rounder Cory Gilliard saw the field for just one game.
Total Defensive backs drafted: 21
NFL games played: 1047
Seasons as a starter: 27
Pro Bowls: 3—Deltha O’Neal 2 (2001, 2005); Tory James 1 (2004)
Games played, seasons as starter and Pro Bowls are for player’s career with all teams.
- 2—Deltha O’Neal (15 overall) 2000; Willie Middlebrooks (24) 2001
- 4—Tory James (44) 1996; Eric Brown (61) 1998; Kenoy Kennedy (45) 2000; Darrent Williams (56) 2005;
- 4—Chris Watson (67) 1999; Jeremy LeSueur (85) 2004; Domonique Foxworth (97) 2005; Karl Paymah (76) 2005
- 4—Darrius Johnson (122) 1996; Cory Gilliard (124) 1997; Sam Brandon (131) 2002; Jack Williams (119) 2008
- 3—Darwin Bowen (167) 1999; Jeff Shoate (152) 2004; DeJon Gomes (146) 2011
- 1—Tony Veland (181) 1996
- 3—Chris Young (228) 2002; Josh Barrett (220) 2008; Brandyn Thompson (213) 2011
Original post 4/23/11, updated 4/23/12