I wanted to take a comparison of the drafts of the Bolts and Broncos to see how they helped/hindered the teams development into what we have today. Up front I'd like to acknowledge The Sports Guru over at MHR, some of my Broncos draft information is shamelessly garnered from his posts. I started with 2000 thinking that was a nice round year, and it brought back so many bad memories I almost quit but here we are:
The Bolts number one pick was traded to Tampa Bay in 1999 for Mikhail Ricks (taken in the second round of 1999). If you have not heard of him that's for good reason. If it weren't for a certain QB (whose name rhymes with 'lyin' thief'), he might go down as the worst Charger pick in history. Thought to have all the skills needed to be a first class receiver in the NFL, he was a bust at that, then went on to be a bust in special teams before finally being cut and slinking off in ignominy. Note that this was part of a series of trades in which Bobby Beathard gave up three firsts (including the 3rd and 8th overall picks) and got that unforgettable duo of Mikhail Ricks and Ryan Leaf. Squandered does not seem strong enough to describe San Diego's picks here.
On the flip side Deltha O'Neal (15) ran hot & cold as CB and return man for Denver. His first and third years were average to forgettable. That second year was pro-bowl caliber with 9 picks and great punt returns. Traded off to Cincinnati, he has continued to be boom then bust, I would say that this was a valuable pick. Certainly in comparison to the execrable Mikhail Ricks he was a shining star. He has lost his starting job in Cincy and moved on to the New England Patriots; he was distinctly unimpressive in this years game against the Chargers. The trade to Cincinnati turned into LB D.J. Williams.
In the second round the Chargers took Rogers Beckett (43), DB from Marshall; rated as the number one safety that year. Beckett is that Safety whose name you can never remember, because he just isn't that good, it seems like every team has one. Not a complete bust, he reached 100 tackles starting his second year on an eminently forgettable defense. He only spent three seasons with the Chargers before being cut and moving on to the Bengals (is that where all old DBs go to end their careers?). He never had more than two interceptions, and only hit 100 tackles that second year, a mediocre to poor selection overall. He played next to Rodney Harrison, and the comparison was unfortunate for him.
Denver picked up Ian Gold (40), nicknamed 'Crash Test Dummy' for his style of play on special teams, looked like he was coming along as a linebacker by his third year when he notched 6.5 sacks and 100 tackles. That turned out to be his best year however as a knee injury would lead to his release in his fourth season. He spent a year in Tampa Bay before returning to the Broncos. It looks like he only saw sporadic action last year and was released in February of 2008. He can't be called a bust, but his production was just average.
With their second second round pick the Broncos took Kenoy Kennedy (45). Kenoy spent five seasons as safety for the Broncos, the last two with Detroit. Reputed to be a fearsome hitter, he racked up a number of fines by the league. His tackling numbers are average, and he has had only a handful of picks over the years, coverage seems not to have been his forte. He looks to have been comparable to the redoubtable Rogers Beckett of the Chargers. He was released by the not so fearsome Detroit Lions last year.
The Chargers took Damion McIntosh (83). In three seasons with the Chargers he did a fine job as a run blocker, but gave up a number of sacks. Fans gave the unfortunate nickname of 'turnstile'. Perhaps as a result the sacks he started jumping the gun and had a number of false starts. The Chargers gave up on him in 2003, but he was picked up by the Dolphins and fared slightly better. Overall I can't call this pick a success, he spent too little time with the Bolts and performed poorly. He was with KC briefly.
The Broncos chose speedster WR Chris Cole (70). He turned into a good return man, but never panned out as a WR. He spent four seasons in Denver, but played behind Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey; a tough place to be. He is currently trying to resurrect his career in the Arena league, overall you would hope for more out of a third rounder.
The Bolts had two fourth round picks, the first was Trevor Gaylor (111). A nondescript rookie year, it looked like he was catching fire at the end of the year. He was traded in late 2002 to the Falcons for an undisclosed pick as the Chargers picked up Tim Dwight. That pick would turn into Shane Olivea who played several years on the Bolts OL before partying himself out of a job last year, he recently signed with the NY Jets. Trevor caught for about three hundred yards the next year for the Falcons before he sank below the surface, never to be seen again in the NFL. He did have one nice season in the CFL (900 yards). Leonardo Carson (113) was the second fourth rounder. This looked like a potential gem, he had all the physical skills you could want. He played only four games his rookie season, had 3 sacks his second year and 3.5 his third and final year with the Chargers. He was waived for some assault charges and picked up by Dallas. Dallas gave up on him after two season's, in his last he was charged with burglary and kidnapping related to breaking into his girlfriends house. The league meted out a mighty one game suspension, virtually a bust, two mediocre years on the Bolts.
The Broncos also had two fourth rounders, the first being Jerry Johnson (101), DT. Active Nine games started none, pure unalloyed bust. The other fourth rounder was Cooper Carlisle (112) and he reputedly was an excellent backup. He finally cracked into the full time starting role in 2004, and provided depth to an array of excellent Bronco lines. Carlisle went free agency to the Raiders and is slated to be a starter for them next year. Carlisle was a great value and a long term keeper.
The Chargers traded their fifth rounder. Denver selected WR Muneer Moore (154), sadly he broke his leg in training camp and never really recovered. He went into marketing for the NFL players association.
The Chargers had three picks in this round, the first being Shannon Taylor (LB 184). Cut after his first season, he kicked around for three more years, but career tackles were less than 50. An interesting side note, Coach Mike Riley wanted to draft a little known QB he had coached in college by the name of Tom Brady, but Bobby Beathard would have none of it, despite the obvious failure of Leaf. The second sixth rounder was DB Damen Wheeler (203) who didn't make the cut on a pretty putrid secondary, he did end up being something of a star in Arena football. Finally the Bolts took a different QB in the sixth round, JaJuan Seider (205) was cut in training camp and apart from being the trivia answer to who the Chargers got instead of Brady, you will never see his name.
Denver hit it big in round 6, taking RB Mike Anderson (189). Anderson never played High School ball, and went into the Marines to earn college money. He served in Somalia and ended up playing two years in a JC before going on to Utah. Drafted in the sixth round he ran for almost 1500 yards in his rookie year and was named Offensive rookie of the year. He was switched to FB and played special teams, always doing what the team needed without complaining. Injuries plagued him, but he had a comeback in 2005, rushing for 1,000 yards again. He played in a backup role for the Ravens last year, but was nicked for steroids in 2003, and now again in 2008 after being released by the Ravens. Given his age and 4 game suspension, 2007 was his last year.
The Broncos were a disappointing 6-10 after being almost unbeatable and winning the Superbowl in 1998. John Elway was retired; it was the end of an era and Brian Griese had flashes, but struggled with interceptions too. Terrell Davis would tear up his knee in the fourth game of the season and never be quite the same again.
The Chargers would go 8-8 under coach Mike Riley, an improvement, but the team had obvious QB needs, they ended up 28th in the league in points scored. The defense ranked 10th, but the Bolts went -10 in takeaways. The question was what direction were we headed from .500, just how bad things were wouldn't be discovered until 2000.
Denver rebounded to go 11-5 with the number two offense in the league, but a defense that ranked in the mid-twenties. Brian Griese looked like he would pick up right where Elway left off, and Mike Anderson was fantastic in relief of the injured Davis. The Broncos went to the playoffs as a wild card, but were utterly throttled by the dominant Raven's defense; Baltimore would go on to win the Superbowl as a wild card.
The bottom fell out for the Bolts, going 1-15, and we fans felt lucky to get have that one win. We would have to work our way up to hapless. Raylee Johnson, our number one tackle went down in pre-season and the line just wasn't the same without him. While the offense remained impotent, the defense now joined them ranking at 29th in the league. It was the lost season to end all lost seasons. Both Harbaugh and Leaf were terrible, Leaf more so. Our top two rushers combined only made roughly half of what Mike Anderson gained by himself. Clearly there were no impact players among our 2000 draft, and a number of klinkers. Bobby Beathard retired and though few saw it, a new day was coming under the guidance of John Butler; there was literally nowhere to go but up.
Deltha O'Neal , Mike Anderson and Cooper Carlisle were impact players, though not all that first year and not always consistently. Mike Anderson really came through under pressure. Ian Gold and Kennoy Kennedy both had some success. The Broncos bounced back well from the off year; this was a reasonably good draft for the Broncos, I would have to grade it a B.
The Chargers clearly regressed from 1999 and while some of the draft picks would find slots on the roster, none would exceed even the most modest expectations. Trading away our number one pick for a bust WR when they had so many needs was frustrating in the extreme. The sole bright spot was the draft pick used to pick up Shane Olivea. The Chargers earned a solid D- and seemed like a team headed to nowhere.