ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – How will history recall the Richard Quinn era?
It certainly won’t be for big plays. In two years, Quinn only mustered one catch — a catastrophically low total for a tight end selected in the first two rounds of the draft. Rather, it will be as a second-round pick who washed out. That’s unfair, considering that he shouldn’t have been selected that high in the first place.
Blocking-first tight ends are not premium players at draft time. They have a place in the draft, but even the best of blockers — as Quinn was among tight ends in the 2009 draft class — more typically belong in the fourth or fifth rounds. Not coincidentally, this was the generally accepted projection by pundits.
Making matters worse is that Quinn was part of a trade that saw the Broncos trade two third-round selections to Pittsburgh for the second-round pick that became Quinn and a fourth-rounder that became Seth Olsen, who only lasted a year.
One of those Steelers third-rounders was used to select guard Kraig Urbik, whom they cut last year but is on the Buffalo Bills’ first team. While he is struggling, he remains closer to being an NFL starter than Quinn and Olsen ever were.
The other Steelers pick from the trade? Wide receiver Mike Wallace. All he’s done is average 20.3 yards per reception, gain 1,257 yards in 2010 and score on 16 of his 99 career catches. Wallace’s success and Quinn’s failure means the swap must now be regarded as one of the worst in Broncos history.
Consider that again: the Steelers traded BACK to get Wallace, who appears at the cusp of a terrific career. The Broncos traded UP to get Quinn, just as they traded a 2010 first-round pick for the second-rounder in 2009 that became Alphonso Smith, who lasted just 16 months in Denver.
Perhaps Quinn will eventually fill the role his skill set dictates: to become a capable blocking tight end without the onerous expectations that come with being such a high selection.
His place in Broncos history, however, is sealed — as part of a second-round haul that needs a revival from safety Darcel McBath to avoid going down as one of the most disastrous rounds in Broncos draft history.
At a draft position where you expect to find starters, the Broncos located none, and now the new administration is left to clean up yet another mess made under Josh McDaniels’ watch.
And that will be Quinn’s legacy, just as much as his one reception over two years — which, if it stands, will leave him with fewer catches than all but one tight end selected in the draft’s first two rounds since 1985.
Yes, there’s no use crying over spilled milk. But a couple of profanities from Broncos brass — and their fans — are justifiable.