On March 6, 1995, The Fan was born. In the 25 years since, a lot has transpired on the fields, courts and ice in Colorado, giving the hosts and listeners who’ve been part of the station during that time plenty to talk about and debate.
During the course of the next few weeks, we’ll take a look back at that history, remembering the good times and the bad, the winners and the losers, the successes and the failures. It’s a series we’re calling “Timeline 25” and it continues today with a look at a remaining connection to one of the biggest draft blunders in Colorado sports history – the Paxton Lynch.
The Broncos 2016 draft was a borderline disaster. Less than three months removed from winning Super Bowl 50, the team whiffed on nearly all of their eight selections.
Perhaps they were feeling invincible after hoisting a Lombardi Trophy and got cocky, taking unnecessary risks. Or maybe they simply had some bad luck. Whatever the reasons, Denver’s class of 2016 picks is not good.
Currently, only Justin Simmons remains on the roster. Granted, the third-round selection is a very good player, having earned All-Pro honors last season, but his time with the team could be limited. According to reports, he’s going to play the 2020 campaign under the franchise tag, as he’s been unable to reach a long-term deal with the team. That means his days in a Broncos uniform could be numbered.
If Simmons leaves after this season, that would mean that only one player – Andy Janovich – received a second contract with the team. And the fullback out of Nebraska has already been dealt, having been traded to the Browns this offseason.
In the second round, John Elway and company missed on Adam Gotsis, a converted rugby player who never panned out along the defensive line. In the fourth, they blew a pick on Devontae Booker, a running who fumbled on his first professional carry and never saw many better days.
One round later, Denver took Connor McGovern, who played guard and center with the team but was allowed to walk via free agency this offseason. The same thing happened with Will Parks, the safety who was taken in the sixth round. And Riley Dixon, a punter taken in the seventh, was dealt to the Giants.
But none of those misses are the story of the 2016 NFL Draft for the Broncos. Instead, that distinction goes to Paxton Lynch, the quarterback whom Denver traded up to pick in the first round at No. 26 overall.
Elway was enamored with the big-armed, athletic QB from Memphis, so he dealt the team’s first (No. 31) and one of their thirds (No. 94) in that draft to move up five spots, fearful that the Cowboys would leapfrog the Broncos if they waited. Dallas remained patient and grabbed Dak Prescott in the fourth round, a quarterback who is about to ink a mega-contract.
Meanwhile, Lynch lasted two seasons in Denver, posting a 1-3 record in four starts. It can be argued that he never got a fair shot with the Broncos, but the fact that he’s also flamed out with the Seahawks and couldn’t beat out Devlin “Duck” Hodges with the QB-starved Steelers last season says a lot.
But the Lynch story doesn’t end there for the Broncos. This year, a connection to that ill-fated trade will be in Denver.
With the 31st overall pick, the Seahawks selected Germain Ifedi, an offensive tackle out of Texas A&M. Seattle thought so little of him that they declined his fifth-year option and let him sign with Chicago this year in free agency.
The other pick the Seahawks received from the Broncos was used to select a tight end out of Ohio State. After three-plus seasons in Seattle, he was traded to Pittsburgh. The Steelers didn’t re-sign him during this past offseason, however.
Who did? That’s right, the Broncos.
Every time Denver fans see No. 88 on the field, they’ll be reminded of the Lynch trade. That’s because Nick Vannett, the second part of the deal that allowed the quarterback to become a Bronco, is now in the orange and blue.
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