Ted Gregory was a monster nose tackle at Syracuse despite his relatively small 6-1, 255-pound frame.
He used his foundation as a high school wrestler to help control the middle of the field, then steroids to help his draft status. Denver took the bait with the 26th pick in the 1988 Draft.
The Broncos overlooked the steroid rumors and recurring knee injuries that initially marred the end of Gregory’s senior season and then again during his pre-draft workout.
Gregory covered up the latter knee injury by grabbing his ankle instead.
Perhaps Denver might have guessed his ruse had they actually sent a representative from the organization to scout him.
That’s right; the Broncos drafted Gregory sight unseen, a common practice for the team that suddenly ended after this complete waste of a first rounder. coincidence?
“I remember thinking he was the shortest 6-foot-1 I'd ever seen," Denver head coach Dan Reeves said. "He didn't even look like he was 6-feet. That was my first impression. Otherwise, everything else about him is vague.”
After suffering another knee injury in training camp, Denver traded their top pick—to the New Orleans Saints for equally disappointing DE Shawn Knight—without ever playing a down for the team that drafted him.
Gregory recorded zero tackles and only one sack in three games before his damaged knee finally gave out. The sack was on John Elway and the Broncos in a 42-0 rout in the Superdome, the ultimate insult to injury.
Why Denver even went after a nose tackle with its first pick remains inexplicable.
Third-year pro Greg Kragen was already firmly entrenched at nose tackle, reaching his peak with a trip to the Pro Bowl in ’89. Doug Williams and the Redskins just flambéed the Broncos' pass defense in Super Bowl XXII, but they chose Gregory over future Pro Bowlers CB Eric Allen, S Erick McMillan, CB James Hasty and DB Chuck Cecil. Denver also passed on future Hall of Famers RB Thurman Thomas and C Dermontti Dawson.
The Broncos have their share of draft day regrets—listed below—but none eclipse the whiff on Gregory.
2010: Josh McDaniels traded one 2nd rounder and two 3rd rounders to move up to Baltimore’s 25th spot and took QB Tim Tebow. Even as the losses mounted and McDaniels dismissal was apparent, the lame duck head coach still wouldn’t bench Kyle Orton in favor of his 1st round prospect.
2007: Mike Shanahan’s last set of draft regrets paired 1st and 2nd round busts DE Jarvis Moss and DE Tim Crowder. Denver passed on DE LaMarr Woodley and Charles Johnson.
2005: Denver paid RB Maurice Clarett—3rd round supplemental draft pick—to sip vodka out of a water bottle during training camp before cutting him without a single preseason game appearance.
2002: Chose WR Ashley Lelie ahead of Javon Walker, Jabar Gaffney and Deion Branch.
1998: Took WR Marcus Nash ahead of Hines Ward, Joe Jurevicius and Az-Zahir Hakim.
1992: Dan Reeves took QB Tommy Maddox to put pressure on Elway, a move that cost him his job by the end of the ’92 season.
1965: Selected LB Dick Butkus 9th overall in the AFL draft. The future Hall of Famer chose the NFL’s Chicago Bears instead.
1962: Drafted OT Merlin Olsen 2nd overall in the AFL draft. The future Hall of Famer chose the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams instead.