In this article, I will be analyzing each of the past eight draft classes starting from 2011 to this past year’s draft. I will provide a ranking from first to last in order of the best draft classes. When doing this, I formed a depth chart of the top players from each draft class with only players that are currently on an active roster. I also did not include any undrafted free agents due to the fact that they were not technically drafted. When ranking each depth chart I considered what the draft class would perform under as an actual NFL team, not just ranking them based off how many superstars are in each.
1. 2014 Draft Class:
QB: Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr, Blake Bortles
RB: Devonta Freeman, James White, Carlos Hyde, Jerick Mckinnon
WR: Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, Jarvis Landry, Davante Adams, Sammy Watkins
TE: Eric Ebron, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Richard Rodgers
OT: Taylor Lewan, Jake Matthews, Charles Leno, Morgan Moses
G: Zack Martin, Trai Turner, Joel Bitonio, Gabe Jackson
C: Weston Richburg, Justin Britt
Analysis: The wide receivers from this draft class are so stacked it would not even matter who throws them the ball. The class’s wide outs are so loaded there was not enough room for Brandin Cooks… With a very strong offensive line, and some talented running backs, whom are all utilized in various ways would make this a real tough offense to stop in the passing game.
DE: Khalil Mack, DeMarcus Lawrence, Stephon Tuitt, Trent Murphy
DT: Aaron Donald, Timmy Jernigan, Beau Allen, Justin Ellis
OLB: Jadeveon Clowney, Anthony Barr, Christian Kirksey, Telvin Smith
ILB: C.J. Mosley, Anthony Hitchens, Avery Williamson, Kyle Van Noy
CB: Kyle Fuller, Darqueze Dennard, Bradley Roby, Aaron Colvin, Travis Carrie
S: Lamarcus Joyner, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Ricardo Allen, Tre Boston
Analysis: The elite pass rushers in this draft class are so good it would not matter who is at secondary for them. Attempting to block defensive MVP candidate Aaron Donald in the interior, and the elite Khalil Mack, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Jadeveon Clowney on the edge, it would be nearly impossible.
2. 2017 Draft Class:
QB: Pat Mahomes. Deshaun Watson, Mitch Trubisky
RB: Kareem Hunt, Alvin Kamara, Joe Mixon, James Conner, Leonard Fournette
RB/Slot-WR: Christian McCaffrey, Tarik Cohen
FB: Alex Armah
WR: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Corey Davis, Cooper Kupp, Mike Williams, Chris Godwin
TE: Evan Engram, George Kittle, O.J. Howard, David Njoku
OT: Garett Bolles, Ryan Ramczyk, Dion Dawkins, Cam Robinson
G: Forrest Lamp, Ethan Pocic, Isaac Asiata, Jordan Morgan
C: Pat Elfrein, Chase Roullier
Analysis: The skill positions in the 2017 draft are already looking like the future of the NFL. The running backs from this class are so deep, it’s actually so deep I listed six running backs and extremely talented backs such as; Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones, Chris Carson did not make the list… Patrick Mahomes, the NFL’s leader in passing would be the head of this fire-powered offense, utilizing his running backs in the passing game to go alongside JuJu, Corey Davis, Kupp, Engram, and Kittle.
DE: Myles Garrett, Jonathan Allen, Derek Barnett, Solomon Thomas
DT: Nazair Jones, Dalvin Tomlinson, Larry Ogunjobi, Davon Godchaux
OLB: T.J. Watt, Duke Riley, Reuben Foster, Matt Milano
ILB: Jarrad Davis, Zach Cunningham, Raekwon McMillan, Haason Reddick
CB: Marshon Lattimore, Tre’Davious White, Adoree’ Jackson, Shaquil Griffin, Marlon Humphrey
S: Jamal Adams, Budda Baker, Eddie Jackson, Malik Hooker
Analysis: Pretty much every top defensive player from this class is looking to be a future star in this league. Players such as Myles Garrett, Marcus Lattimore, Jamal Adams, T.J. Watt, Jonathan Allen, and Tre’Davious White have somehow already exceeded their expectations despite all being first round picks.
3. 2011 Draft Class:
QB: Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Tyrod Taylor
RB: Mark Ingram, Dion Lewis, Bilal Powell, Jacquizz Rodgers
FB: Anthony Sherman
WR: Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Randall Cobb, Torrey Smith, Dwayne Harris
TE: Kyle Rudolph, Charles Clay, Lance Kendricks
OT: Tyron Smith, Marcus Gilbert, Anthony Castonzo, Nate Solder
G: Rodney Hudson, Clint Boling, Daniel Kilgore
C: Mike Pouncey, Jason Kelce
Analysis: The offense would center around QB Cam Newton, using a vertical passing game in order to utilize the dangerous duo of All-Pro receivers Julio Jones and A.J. Green. Newton would have a excellent protections on the outside, especially with Tyron Smith arguably the best left tackle in football protecting his blindside. The running game would be used based around Mark Ingram and Dion Lewis’s skill sets, but their interior part of the line is not the strongest.
DE: J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan, Cam Heyward, Robert Quinn
DT: Jurrell Casey, Marcell Dareus, Corey Liuget, Terrell McClain
OLB: Von Miller, Justin Houston, Ryan Kerrigan, K.J. Wright
ILB: Mason Foster, Malcolm Smith, Nate Irving
CB: Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, Jimmy Smith, Prince Amukamara, Buster Skrine
S: Marcus Gilchrist, Da’Norris Searcy, Colin Jones, Chris Conte
Analysis: If this was an actual defense, it would be nearly impossible to try to protect the quarterback from their elite group of pass rushers. J.J. Watt, Cam Jordan, Von Miller, Justin Houston, and Ryan Kerrigan are among the top-premier talented edge rushers in the NFL. Although they would have two All-Pro corners Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman, their inside linebackers and safeties are definitely the weakest of any these draft classes.
4. 2018 Draft Class:
QB: Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold
RB: Saquon Barkley, Phillip Lindsay, Nick Chubb, Kerryon Johnson
WR: Calvin Ridley, Courtland Sutton, Christian Kirk, D.J. Moore, Anthony Miller
TE: Dallas Goedert, Mark Andrews, Mike Gesicki, Chris Herndon
OT: Mike McGlinchey, Braden Smith, Orlando Brown, Brian O’Neill
G: Quenton Nelson, Will Hernandez, Connor Williams, James Daniels
C: Frank Ragnow, Mason Cole, Billy Price
Analysis: Even though it has only been two months of play so far, but you can already start to tell which players are future stars in the league. The offense would be led by Saquon Barkley around a strong offensive line, with quarterback Baker Mayfield leading them.
DE: Da’Shawn Hand, Marcus Davenport, B.J. Hill, Sam Hubbard
DT: Da’Ron Payne, Maurice Hurst, Derrick Nnadi, Harrison Phillips
OLB: Bradley Chubb, Leighton Vander Esch, Jerome Baker, Harold Landry
ILB: Darius Leonard, Roquan Smith, Tremaine Edmunds, Fred Warner
CB: Denzel Ward, Jaire Alexander, Donte Jackson, Josh Jackson, Taron Johnson
S: Derwin James, Jessie Bates, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Justin Reid
Analysis: The talent level that has been shown from the top defensive prospects from this draft have been exceptional. Players such as Darius Leonard (the league leader in tackles), Leighton Vander Esch, Jaire Alexander, Da’Ron Payne, and Derwin James have dominated in their rookie years. This group would be deep on all-three levels of the field.
5. 2016 Draft Class:
QB: Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott
RB: Ezekiel Elliot, Jordan Howard, Kenyan Drake, Alex Collins
FB: Andy Janovich
WR: Michael Thomas, Tyreek Hill, Tyler Boyd, Sterling Shepard, Will Fuller
TE: Austin Hooper, Hunter Henry, Tyler Higbee
OT: Jack Conklin, Ronnie Stanley, Laremy Tunsil, Taylor Decker
G: Cody Whitehair, Alex Lewis
C: Ryan Kelly
Analysis: This draft class features a couple very talented young rising stars including a few elite offensive tackles such as Jack Conklin, Ronnie Stanley, and Laremy Tunsil. This offense would end up pretty much being an even more enhanced version of the Rams. You have Jared Goff with another elite running back (Ezekiel Elliot), and instead of Woods and Cooks, you would upgrade with Michael Thomas and Tyreek Hill.
DE: Joey Bosa, Yannick Ngakoue, Emmanuel Ogbah, DeForest Buckner
DT: Kenny Clark, Sheldon Rankins, Jarran Reed, Robert Nkemdiche
OLB: Leonard Floyd, Darron Lee, Matt Judon, Nick Virgil
ILB: Blake Martinez, Myles Jack, Deion Jones, Joe Schobert
CB: Jalen Ramsey, William Jackson, Xavien Howard, Jalen Mills, James Bradberry
S: Kevin Byard, Keanu Neal, Sean Davis, Karl Joseph
Analysis: This group has a real solid starting defensive front led by Joey Bosa, Yannick Ngakoue, and Kenny Clark. The defense also features all-pro corner (Jalen Ramsey), last year’s leader in tackles (Blake Martinez), and a rising star at safety (Kevin Byard).
6. 2012 Draft Class:
QB: Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Kirk Cousins
RB: Lamar Miller, Doug Martin, Alfred Morris
WR: T.Y. Hilton, Alshon Jeffery, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Travis Benjamin
TE: Dwayne Allen, Rhett Ellison, Ladarius Green
OT: Cordy Glenn, Riley Reiff, Mitchell Schwartz, Matt Kalil
G: David DeCastro, Brandon Brooks, Kelechi Osemele
C: Ben Jones, Jeff Allen
Analysis: It’s surprising to see the lack of skill positions this draft class produced, which is demonstrated from the depth chart. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were the first and second picks of this draft, but it was third round pick Russell Wilson who would be leading this group. The offense lacks a top premier rusher, and also none of their tight ends currently start in the NFL. T.Y Hilton would be the number one receiving threat, and Alshon Jeffrey would be the red-zone threat.
DE: Chandler Jones, Vinny Curry, Michael Brockers, Bruce Irvin
DT: Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Mike Daniels, Dontari Poe
OLB: Melvin Ingram, Lavonte David, Olivier Vernon, Nick Perry
ILB: Bobby Wagner, Luke Kuechly, Don’t’a Hightower, Mark Barron
CB: Josh Norman, Casey Hayward, Stephon Gilmore, Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson
S: Harrison Smith, Tavon Wilson, George Iloka, Keith Tandy
Analysis: This group would make a very nice defense, with their top talents spread out on all three levels of the field. The defense features arguably the two best inside linebackers in the NFL with Wagner and Kuechly. It would be very tough to move the ball on this defense.
7. 2013 Draft Class:
QB: Geno Smith, Mike Glennon, Matt Barkley
RB: Le’Veon Bell, Latavius Murray, Giovani Bernard, Theo Riddick
FB: Kyle Juszczyk
WR: DeAndre Hopkins, Keenan Allen, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, Kenny Stills
TE: Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, Jordan Reed, Tyler Eifert
OT: Lane Johnson, David Bakhtiari, Eric Fisher,, Ricky Wagner
G: Kyle Long, Justin Pugh, Larry Warford, Brian Winters
C: Travis Frederick, J.C. Tretter
Analysis: It’s absolutely bizarre how there are no current starting quarterbacks in the NFL from a draft class that is only just five years old. It’s unclear who would be the starter, but no matter who is under center it would have to be an offense built around running back Le’Veon Bell. A tight end combination of Ertz and Kelce, with DeAndre Hopkins and Keenan Allen surrounded by an exceptional offensive line should definitely help. It would be very difficult to utilize an outside pass rush around tackles David Bakhtiari and Lane Johnson.
DE: Ezekiel Ansah, Sheldon Richardson, Alex Okafor, William Gholston
DT: Kawann Short, Bennie Logan, Star Lotulelei, Jonathan Hankins
OLB: Jamie Collins, Barkevious Mingo, Dion Jordan, John Simon
ILB: Alec Ogletree, Kiko Alonso, Jon Bostic, Manti Te’o
CB: Xavier Rhodes, Darius Slay, Logan Ryan, D.J. Hayden, Jamar Taylor
S: Tyrann Mathieu, D.J. Swearinger, Micah Hyde, Kenny Vaccaro
Analysis: The defense features a few extremely talented players, but for the most part it it’s really nothing special compared to the other classes’ defenses. The linebacker group would be very sub-par, but they would benefit around a talented starting secondary. Good Luck to opposing receivers looking to beat Xavier Rhodes and Darius Slay in the press, with Mathieu and Swearinger hovering over them.
8. 2015 Draft Class:
QB: Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Brett Hundley
RB: Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, David Johnson, Tevin Coleman
WR: Stefon Diggs, Amari Cooper, Tyler Lockett, Devin Funchess, Nelson Agholar
TE: Jesse James, Geoff Swaim, C.J. Uzomah
OT: D.J. Humphries, Daryl Williams, Rob Havenstein, Donovan Smith
G: Brandon Scherff, Ali Marpet, Shaq Mason, Andrus Peat
C: Mitch Morse, Hroniss Grasu
Analysis: The huge debate in 2015 was Winston or Mariota? Turns out the real debate should have been Gurley or Gordon… If an offensive coordinator was able devise a run-pass option scheme with Mariota and those running backs, utilizing quick slants to Diggs, Cooper, and Lockett the offense would be extremely effective.
DE: Danielle Hunter, Leonard Williams, Frank Clark, Trey Flowers
DT: Grady Jarrett, Eddie Goldman, Malcom Brown, Arik Amstead
OLB: Bud Dupree, Shaq Thompson, Za’Darius Smith, Vic Beasley
ILB: Kwon Alexander, Eric Kendricks, Jordan Hicks, Benardrick McKinney
CB: Marcus Peters, Byron Jones, Trae Waynes, Ronald Darby, Eric Rowe
S: Landon Collins, Damarious Randall, Jacquiski Tartt, Clayton Geathers
Analysis: The 2015 defense would be solid from top-to-bottom, but may lack the elite star power compared to the other classes. Defensive end Danielle Hunter and outside linebacker Bud Dupree are elite pass rushers on the edge, but they could improve their corners.