How A Broncos-Seahawks Trade In 2009 Turned Seattle's Defence Into A Juggernaut

The “Legion of Boom” — the self-appointed nickname of Seattle’s league-best secondary — wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for a trade made by the Denver Broncos.

In 2009, ex-Broncos coach Josh McDaniels made one of the more baffling draft day trades in recent memory.

He traded a 2010 1st-round pick to the Seattle Seahawks for a 2009 2nd-round pick.

That’s not a typo.

The Broncos willingly traded a 1st-round pick for a 2nd-round pick.

It was, predictably, an utter disaster.

With that 2009 2nd-round pick (37th overall), the Broncos selected cornerback Alphonso Smith. He turned out to be a bust. The Broncos traded him to Detroit after one season, and he has been out of the league since getting cut by the Lions in November of 2012.

With the 2010 1st-round pick that they got from Denver (14th overall), the Seahawks selected Earl Thomas. He turned out to be one of the best defensive players in football, anchoring Seattle’s No 1. ranked defence. He has made three Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams.

So to sum up the trade:

  • Broncos got: Alphonso Smith (2nd round, 37th overall pick, 2009)
  • Seahawks got: Earl Thomas (1st round, 14th overall pick, 2010)

The crazy thing is that Denver didn’t have to trade that 1st-round pick. As SB Nation’s Jon Heath points out, they already had two 2nd-round picks in 2009. Instead of bundling those picks to trade up and grab Alphonso Smith, they gave away a valuable 2010 1st-rounder.

It made no sense.

Obviously neither team could have know that Thomas would turn into one of the best players in the league. But just in terms of pure draft value, trading a 1st-round pick for a 2nd-round pick is bonkers, and it backfired on Denver.

There are some free agents on Seattle’s defence, but the secondary — Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman — were all the result of savvy drafting … with an assist from the Broncos.

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