The Five NFL Teams That Drafted the Best from 2016-2020

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

Year Notable Picks
2016Jack Conklin, Derrick Henry, Kevin Byard
2017Corey Davis, Adoree’ Jackson, Jonnu Smith, Jayon Brown
2018Rashaan Evans, Harold Landry
2019Jeffery 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.

12-14-2020-Derrick-Henry-AJ-Brown - Fantasy Footballers Podcast
Image from Fantasy Footballers

4. San Francisco 49ers

YearNotable Picks
2016DeForest Buckner
2017George Kittle
2018Mike McGlinchey, Fred Warner
2019Nick Bosa, Deebo Samuel, Dre Greenlaw
2020Javon 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.

49ers projections: Can Bosa unseat Kittle as the best player on the team? -  Niners Nation
Image from Niners Nation

3. Baltimore Ravens

YearNotable Picks
2016Ronnie Stanley, Matt Judon
2017Marlon Humphrey, Chuck Clark
2018Lamar Jackson, Orlando Brown Jr., Mark Andrews
2019Marquise Brown
2020Patrick 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.

Baltimore Ravens injuries: Lamar Jackson limited in practice, Ronnie Stanley  has concussion -
Image from

2. Indianapolis Colts

YearNotable Picks
2016Ryan Kelly
2017Anthony Walker
2018Quenton Nelson, Darius Leonard, Braden Smith, Nyheim Hines
2019Rock Ya-Sin, Bobby Okereke, Khari Willis
2020Michael 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.

Indianapolis Colts guard Quenton Nelson and linebacker Darius Leonard were  recently recognized on ESPN's list of the top 25 NFL players under the age  of 25
Image from Indianapolis Colts

1. New Orleans Saints

YearNotable Picks
2016Sheldon Rankins, Michael Thomas, Vonn Bell, David Onyemata
2017Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, Marcus Williams, Alvin Kamara, Alex Anzalone, Trey Hendrickson
2018Marcus Davenport, Tre’Quan Smith
2019Erik McCoy, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
2020Cesar Ruiz

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.

Saints' Marcus Lattimore and Alvin Kamara up for neRookie of the Year
Image from Saints Wire – USA Today

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.


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