In recent days, many people have began to question the importance of drafting well in the NFL. The Rams traded Jared Goff and their next two first round picks for Matthew Stafford. Previously, they traded two first-rounders for Jalen Ramsey. Despite their lack of draft capital they’ve still been very successful. So, many now think that drafting well isn’t the best path to success.
In this article, I’m here to show this is wrong. If you look back the the past five years of NFL Drafts, the five teams who drafted the best are all playoff contenders. Here are the teams that made my list.
5. Tennessee Titans
|2016||Jack Conklin, Derrick Henry, Kevin Byard|
|2017||Corey Davis, Adoree’ Jackson, Jonnu Smith, Jayon Brown|
|2018||Rashaan Evans, Harold Landry|
|2019||Jeffery Simmons, A.J. Brown|
The Titans are sneakily really good at drafting. Derrick Henry is coming off a 2,000-yard season. A.J. Brown looks like a stud for their offense. Byard is an All-Pro with 18 career interceptions. The rest have all started for Tennessee. Jack Conklin is no longer on the roster, but he was stellar in his time with the Titans, which is why he earned such a lucrative deal from the Browns.
4. San Francisco 49ers
|2018||Mike McGlinchey, Fred Warner|
|2019||Nick Bosa, Deebo Samuel, Dre Greenlaw|
|2020||Javon Kinlaw, Brandon Aiyuk|
The Niners may not have the same volume of good picks as some of the other teams, but the amount of bonafide stars they’ve selected is unreal. Although Buckner was traded to the Colts, he was still great with San Francisco and he got them a ton of trade value. Kittle, Bosa, and Warner are generational talents, and McGlinchey is an above-average tackle.
3. Baltimore Ravens
|2016||Ronnie Stanley, Matt Judon|
|2017||Marlon Humphrey, Chuck Clark|
|2018||Lamar Jackson, Orlando Brown Jr., Mark Andrews|
|2020||Patrick Queen, J.K. Dobbins|
The Ravens drafted their franchise QB in Lamar and gave him elite protection. Stanley and Brown are both Pro Bowl tackles. On top of that, Humphrey is arguable a top-5 corner in the league.
2. Indianapolis Colts
|2018||Quenton Nelson, Darius Leonard, Braden Smith, Nyheim Hines|
|2019||Rock Ya-Sin, Bobby Okereke, Khari Willis|
|2020||Michael Pittman Jr., Jonathan Taylor, Julian Blackmon|
The Colts’ position here is carried by their stellar 2018 draft and 2020 draft. In 2018, they took two absolute studs in Nelson and Leonard. Both have already been All-Pros in multiple seasons. In 2020, they drafted three players who became starters in their rookie seasons. Taylor, Pittman, and Blackmon all look like stars.
1. New Orleans Saints
|2016||Sheldon Rankins, Michael Thomas, Vonn Bell, David Onyemata|
|2017||Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, Marcus Williams, Alvin Kamara, Alex Anzalone, Trey Hendrickson|
|2018||Marcus Davenport, Tre’Quan Smith|
|2019||Erik McCoy, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson|
The Saints’ 2017 draft class might be the single best group of all-time. Lattimore, Ramczyk, and Kamara are all superstars, while Williams, Hendrickson, and Anzalone are also above-average starters. On top of that, they found their superstar receiver the year before with Michael Thomas. All in all, NO’s past five classes have yielded around 14 starters. That’s unparalleled success. This was an easy choice for #1.
So, take these five teams as evidence that drafting well is a sufficient path to success in the NFL. It can be risky, but the rewards can be well worth it.