5 Greatest Defensive Players in Broncos History
The Denver Broncos are one of the most impressive franchises in NFL history, with the second-most Super Bowl appearances of any team. Through all this success, they've had some of the league's all-time greats suit up on both sides of the ball, with no shortage of all-time great defenders.
With that in mind, here are the five greatest defensive players in Broncos history.
5. Karl Mecklenburg (1983-1994)
Karl Mecklenburg's 180 games played in Denver are the eighth-most in franchise history, as well as the fourth-most for a Broncos defender. He's one of only three players in franchise history with over 1,000 tackles (1,104), and his 79.0 sacks are good for third. A six-time Pro Bowler and four-time First-Team All-Pro, Mecklenburg holds a spot in the Broncos Ring of Fame.
4. Von Miller (2011-Present)
While not all of the Broncos' greats played in an era in which sacks were officially recorded, it's safe to say nobody in team history has as many as Von Miller. With 106.0, he's the only player with at least 98.0, and at just 31 years old, he doesn't look to be anywhere near finished. Miller is a three-time first-team All-Pro, eight-time Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl champion, and he's one the greatest pass rushers in NFL history, let alone Broncos history.
3. Randy Gradishar (1974-1983)
A linchpin in the Orange Crush Defense, Randy Gradishar started 133 games across 10 seasons with the Broncos. Few defensive stats were officially kept when Gradishar played, but that shouldn't overshadow how dominant he was. From 1975 to 1977 he was named to seven Pro Bowls and six All-Pro teams, while he also took home NFL Defensive Player of the year honors in 1978. From 1976 to 1983, the Broncos defense also held opposing offenses to bottom-10 scoring six times, allowing the league's third-fewest points in 1977 and second-fewest in 1978.
2. Champ Bailey (2004-2013)
Cornerbacks don't get a whole lot better than Champ Bailey. Traded to the Broncos from the Washington Redskins ahead of the 2004 season, Bailey went on to be named a first-team All-Pro in three consecutive seasons. He played a decade in Denver, amassing 34 interceptions and a ridiculous 122 pass defenses. He also added 599 tackles in that time. He was also incredibly dangerous with the ball in his hands, returning three interceptions for touchdowns.
1. Steve Atwater (1989-1998)
The Broncos back-to-back Super Bowl teams in the late-90's may have been more about offense than defense, but Steve Atwater was one of the best players on those teams. The Smiling Assassin missed just five games in 10 years with the Broncos, making 155 starts. In that time he amassed 1,188 tackles and 24 interceptions. He was also a crucial part of the Broncos' Super Bowl XXXII victory, racking up six solo tackles, one sack, two pass defenses and a forced fumble while also making some key plays in the fourth quarter and being firmly in the Super Bowl MVP conversation.
Get $5 FREE when you sign up for FanDuel Racing, plus we’ll match your first deposit in site credit up to $50!
Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.