With the 2022 NFL Draft quickly approaching in 50 days, we took a look back and evaluated every NFL teams’ previous four draft classes (2018-2021) and ranked their overall performance.
In case you missed it, below were the first two editions of the rankings:
Bottom 8 Teams (No. 25-32):
Next 8 Teams (No. 17-24):
Here are the Next 8 Teams in the Rankings: (No. 9-16):
These next eight teams have all demonstrated over the past four years that they are capable of identifying talent and value in the draft. Several teams on here have done an excellent job building their roster through the draft and were considered for the Top 8, but a few mistakes along the way prevented them from being ranked higher.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Top Value Picks: OT Tristan Wirfs (1st), S Antoine Winfield Jr. (2nd), CB Carlton Davis, CB Jamel Dean, G Alex Cappa (3rd), DT Vita Vea (1st), S Mike Edwards (3rd), S Jordan Whitehead, OLB Anthony Nelson (4th), WR Scotty Miller (6th)
Worst Value Picks: S M.J. Stewart (2nd), WR Justin Watson (5th), RB Ronald Jones, QB Kyle Trask (2nd) RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn (3rd)
Plays for Another Team: S M.J. Stewart (2nd – Browns), K Matt Gay (5th – Rams)
Pros: General Manager Jason Licht has done an excellent job building this roster out the past few through the draft, especially in the 2nd-3rd rounds. While a lot of the credit for their Super Bowl championship is rightfully directed towards Tom Brady, a lot of the success is related towards their recent draft success.
Their biggest positional draft strength has been in the secondary, as they have pretty much formed their entire group with recent mid-round picks such as safeties Antoine Winfield, Mike Edwards & Jordan Whitehead; alongside cornerbacks Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean & Sean Murphy-Bunting. The biggest addition arguably has been right tackle Tristan Wirfs, who just turned 23, is already one of the top NFL offensive tackles.
Cons: The Bucs recently have done a very nice job in the draft, so there is not too much to criticize.. Last year’s selection of Kyle Trask in the second round was a bit questionable in terms of value, especially considering Texans QB David Mills was on the board. If Trasks he ends up eventually turning into a productive starter, then the pick would end up looking better.. Running back seems to be their biggest weakness in the draft, they’ve used a 2nd in 2018 on Ronald Jones and a 3rd in 2020 on Ke’Shawn Vaughn, but Leonard Fournette has been their primary starter.
Overall: Tampa Bay has added some very talented young defensive players in the mid-rounds, especially in the secondary, who have all helped contribute to them winning a Super Bowl. Their success in the draft has offered them the much-needed flexibility of paying and retaining key veteran defenders in free agency (such as David, Barrett and Pierre-Paul) — while still maintaining a strong roster.
10. San Francisco 49ers
Top Value Picks: ILB Fred Warner (3rd), DE Nick Bosa (2nd Overall), WR Deebo Samuel (2nd), OLB Dre Greenlaw (5th), RB Elijah Mitchell (6th), WR Jauan Jennings (7th), TE Charlie Woerner (6th), S Talanoa Hufanga (5th)
Worst Value Picks: WR Dante Pettis (2nd), WR Jalen Hurd, RB Trey Sermon (3rd), G Aaron Banks (2nd), S Tarvarius Moore (3rd), DT Javon Kinlaw (1st)
Plays for Another Team: WR Dante Pettis (2nd- Giants), CB D.J. Reed (5th – Seahawks), TE Kaden Smith (6th – Giants)
Pros: San Francisco has had a lot of success on the field the last past years. A lot of their success has been attributed to by some of their key young players that they’ve selected the past few drafts. They made arguably the most valuable pick in the last few drafts in the 2018 3rd round, with the selection of the leader of their defense, inside linebacker Fred Warner.
Their first two picks of the 2019 have also been sensational; former 2nd overall pick Nick Bosa has been a dominant force on the defensive line and Pro Bowl WR Deebo Samuel was one of the top breakout stars of the 2021 NFL season. They also found tremendous value in the late rounds: starting OLB Dre Greenlaw in 2019 5th round, and in the 6th round last year with RB Elijah Mitchell.
Cons: While the Niners have made several excellent picks throughout the past few drafts under GM John Lynch, they have not capitalized as much as they have hoped for on several of their higher-round picks.. Former 2018 9th-overall pick OT Mike McGlinchey has been pretty average when considering his draft value, and the same can be said with DT Javon Kinlaw, whose performance has been underwhelming so far.. Kinlaw has yet to earn consistent starting reps, while the two interior defensive linemen picked after him have been a lot better – Dexter Lawrence & Jeffrey Simmons.
Another reason that prevented them from landing in the Top 8, is that they have made several mistakes in the 2nd and 3rd rounds the past several drafts on offensive players. In 2018, they picked WR Dante Pettis (2nd) who was released and played last season for the Giants. The following year selected WR Jalen Hurd (who due to injury has yet to play in an NFL game) in the 3rd round over Terry McLaurin. Last year, they took G Aaron Banks (2nd, 48th overall), who spent his entire rookie season on the bench and RB Trey Sermon (3rd), was behind 6th-round pick Elijah Mitchell on the depth chart.
Overall: There have been plenty of positives for the Niners, but some of their crucial mistakes in the higher rounds, specifically between (rounds 1-3), prevent them from being ranked as one of the top 8 teams. Another factor which would ultimately either help improve or decrease their ranking, is the development of last year’s rookie 3rd-overall QB Trey Lance.
11. Carolina Panthers
Best Picks: WR D.J. Moore, EDGE Brian Burns, CB Jaycee Horn, DT Derrick Brown (1st), S Jeremy Chinn (2nd), Donte Jackson, DE Yetur Gross-Matos (2nd), TE Tommy Tremble, OT Brady Christensen (3rd), CB Keith Taylor (5th), CB Stanley Thomas-Oliver (7th)
Worst Picks: OT Greg Little (2nd), QB Will Grier (3rd), CB Rashaan Gaulden (3rd), LB Christian Miller (4th), RB Jordan Scarlett (5th)
Pros: Carolina has done an excellent job at hitting on all of their 1st-round picks in the past 4 years: D.J. Moore, Brian Burns, Derrick Brown and Jaycee Horn. They have also added several key defensive players in the 2nd round, such as CB Donte Jackson, S Jeremy Chinn and DE Yetur Gross-Matos.
Cons: The biggest concern over the past four years has been their lack of finding a reliable starting QB in the draft and did not do a good job in the 2019 Draft. 4 of the 5 players listed as “worst value picks” were four-straight picks from that draft (2nd-5th rounds) – none of them have yet to positively contribute for on an NFL team.
Overall: The Panthers have recently added several talented defensive players the past few seasons, which is starting to show on the field, as their defense has vastly improved from last year under DC Phil Snow. One of their biggest issues has been drafting skill players, as D.J. Moore has been really the only significant addition, they will need to see significant improve from last year’s 2nd-round WR Terrace Marshall Jr. Besides that stretch in 2019, Carolina has not made any critical mistakes, which ultimately helped their overall ranking.
12. Washington Commanders
Top Value Picks: WR Terry McLaurin (3rd), S Kamren Curl (7th), DE Chase Young, DT Da’Ron Payne, DE Montez Sweat (1st), Antonio Gibson (3rd), OT Sam Cosmi (2nd), LB Cole Holcomb (5th), C Keith Ismael (5th), TE John Bates, OL Saahdiq Charles (4th)
Worst Value Picks: QB Dwayne Haskins (1st), RB Derrius Guice (2nd), RB Bryce Love (4th), OT Geron Christian (3rd), WR Antonio Gandy-Golden (4th), C Ross Piershbacher (5th)
Plays for Another Team: Geron Christian (3rd – Texans), C Ross Pierschbacher (5th – Jets), CB Jimmy Moreland (7th – Texans)
Pros: Despite all of the negative issues that have surrounded this franchise over the years, they have quietly actually done a very nice job in the draft the past few years. While they’ve added talented defensive players in the first round such as DE Chase Young, DT Da’Ron Payne, DE Montez Sweat – their most valuable pick has been 2019 3rd-round WR Terry McLaurin.
They also found tremendous value in 2019 with starting RB Antonio Gibson in the 3rd and S Kamren Curl in the 7th. In 2021, they found great value in the 2nd round with OT Sam Cosmi, who had a tremendous rookie season (finishing with an 80% Run Block Win Rate, which was the 2nd-highest in the NFL for an OT).
Cons: Washington has hit on a lot of their picks the past few years, but a few of their mistakes is what prevents them from reaching the Top 10 on this list. Their biggest notable mistake was spending a 1st round pick on QB Dwayne Haskins, who is now a backup on the Steelers.
They spent the past two seasons trying to fill the void at quarterback, which led them to ultimately make a move with the Colts to acquire Carson Wentz, who is back in the NFC East. They also made mistakes by spending a 2nd rounder on RB Derrius Guice and taking Bryce Love & Antonio Gandy-Golden in the 4th round.
Overall: The Commanders have done an excellent job building the core of their defense from the past few drafts and finding great value in the third round with skill players McLaurin and Gibson. There is reason to optimistic for a change around the core of this roster.
13. Los Angeles Rams
Top Value Picks: S Jordan Fuller (6th), DT Sebastian Joseph-Day (6th), C Brian Allen (4th), G David Edwards (5th), S Nick Scott (7th), WR Van Jefferson, RB Cam Akers (2nd), RB Darrell Henderson (3rd), OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (5th), DT Greg Gaines (4th), LB Ernest Jones (3rd)
Worst Value Picks: WR Tutu Atwell (2nd)
Play for Another Team: DL John Franklin-Myers (4th – Jets: contract extension), LB Micah Kiser (5th – Broncos), RB John Kelly (6th – Browns), Dakota Allen (7th – Jaguars)
Pros: The Super Bowl champs have proved that it’s possible to win a ring, with having an aggressive approach of going “all in” — by trading first round picks, in exchange for high-profile veterans. Despite not having one 1st round selection in the past four drafts, the Rams have ironically actually managed to have done an excellent job in the draft the past several years.
GM Les Snead has done an excellent job building this roster on both sides of the ball – with complementary players that fell under-the-radar during the draft process. A lot of the contributing pieces of their roster were from recent mid-round picks such as two starting offensive linemen – Brian Allen (4th), G David Edwards (5th); three offensive skill players – WR Van Jefferson, RB Cam Akers (2nd) and RB Darrell Henderson (3rd); and defensive role players such as DTs Greg Gaines (4th) & Sebastian Joseph-Day (6th), S Nick Scott (7th), OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (5th) and LB Ernest Jones (3rd).
Cons: There really is not much to criticize about here.. There was not one notable player in the last four years that would definitely be considered a “bad value” pick. Tutu Atwell is the only player listed as a “bad value pick” because a 2nd-round pick seemed a bit overvalued for him, when compared to other receivers such as Amon-Ra St. Brown who were still available.
Overall: While their roster has been highlighted by superstars who they’ve acquired by giving up future first-round picks.. What GM Les Snead does not get nearly enough credit for, is how they’ve managed to fill out the bulk of their roster by finding ‘hidden value’ in the mid-rounds. They have been very efficient, and the main reason that prevents them from being in Top 10, is being limited to no first round picks. They haven’t been able to add any significant game changers, as most of these players have been pretty much all been role players.
14. Detroit Lions
Top Value Picks: C Frank Ragnow (1st), WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (4th), OT Penei Sewell (1st), TE T.J. Hockenson (1st), S Tracy Walker (3rd), CB Amani Oruwariye (5th), D’Andre Swift (2nd), G Jonah Jackson (3rd), OLB Julian Okwara (3rd), NT Alim McNeill (3rd),
Worst Value Picks: LB Jahlani Tavai, RB Kerryon Johnson (2nd), CB Jeff Okudah (3rd Overall), DL Da’Shawn Hand (4th)
Plays for Another Team: LB Jahlani Tavai (2nd – Patriots), RB Ty Johnson (6th – Jets), WR Travis Fulgham (6th – Broncos)
Pros: For their lack of success that the Lions have had, it can be pretty surprising to see that for the most part, they’ve actually done a pretty nice job the past four years in the draft. Their past draft in 2021 was the first one under new GM Brad Holmes – who did an excellent job beginning to build this roster out. While Penei Sewell appeared to be the headline of this class, Holmes landed one of the biggest steals of the entire draft with WR Amon-Ra St. Brown – who finished 2nd amongst all rookies with 90 receptions.
Even prior to Holmes, Detroit has had several other notable hits, including 2020 3rd-round offensive guard Jonah Jackson, who was selected to the Pro Bowl (as an injury replacement) this year in only his second season. Frank Ragnow is considered to be one of the best centers in the NFL. CB Amani Oruwariye had 6 interceptions in 2021 (which was the 3rd-most in NFL). TE T.J. Hockenson & RB D’Andre Swift are very talented skill players.
Cons: While the Lions have made a significant amount of recent progress in the draft, there is one crucial recent mistake they made, which could haunt them for years to come…
In the 2020 draft, they had the No. 3 overall pick and while Matthew Stafford was still on the roster, his future with the team was publicly in doubt.. They had the opportunity to select the franchise successor to Stafford, but ultimately decided to pass on QB Justin Herbert.. They instead selected CB Jeff Okudah, who has only appeared in 10 games in two years due to injuries.. The following year they ended up trading away Stafford for Jared Goff and the rest was history..
Overall: Despite their lack of success on the field, the Lions have recently done a nice job at starting to build the team through the draft. There should be a lot of optimism that GM Brad Holmes will continue to identify talented players through the draft, which should hopefully jump start this team in the right direction going further.
15. Cleveland Browns
Top Value Picks: RB Nick Chubb (2nd), CB Denzel Ward (1st), LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (2nd), WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (6th), TE Harrison Bryant (4th), OT Jedrick Wills, CB Greg Newsome (1st)
Worst Value Picks: QB Baker Mayfield (1st Overall), DE Chad Thomas (3rd), S Sheldrick Redwine (4th), WR Antonio Callaway (4th)
Plays on Another Team: G Austin Corbett (2nd – traded to Rams), EDGE Genard Avery (5th – Eagles)
Pros: GM Andrew Barry has been very successful at improving their overall roster since taking over for John Dorsey. Before Barry was the GM, Dorsey hit big in 2018 with the selections of Pro Bowlers, RB Nick Chubb & CB Denzel Ward.
Since taking over for Dorsey, Barry has notably added two talented defensive players in the first two rounds –- most recently, with rookie CB Greg Newsome & LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah — who was one of the biggest steals of the draft (finished 9th out of 87 LBs graded on PFF). In 2020, they did a nice job landing two solid offensive skill players in the later rounds – TE Harrison Bryant (4th) & Donovan Peoples-Jones (6th).
Cons: While it could be unfair to label Baker Mayfield as a ‘disappointment’, but the fact that former GM John Dorsey selected him No. 1 overall, ahead of quarterbacks Josh Allen & Lamar Jackson, it should be fair to say at least say that he has yet to live up to their expectations. Mayfield ultimately must improve next season if he wants to be considered in their future plans. A notable mistake they made was trading away former 2018 2nd-round pick Austin Corbett – who ended up turning out to be a starting guard for the Super Bowl champion Rams.
Overall: For the most part, the Browns have made positive strides in recent years in the draft since Andrew Barry has taken over a GM. They would be higher on the list if they were more successful in the middle rounds (2nd-4th), as they are still waiting on several of their players to make a significant impact. On the bright side, most of the mistakes they’ve made were before Andrew Barry took over as GM.
16. Minnesota Vikings
Top Picks: WR Justin Jefferson (1st), OT Brian O’Neill (2nd), TE Tyler Conklin, WR K.J. Osborn (5th), RB Alexander Mattison, CB Cameron Dantzler (3rd) C Garrett Bradbury, OT Christian Darrisaw (1st), DE D.J. Wonnum, S Camryn Bynum (4th), G Ezra Cleveland (2nd) WR Bisi Johnson, Oli Udoh (7th)
Worst Value Picks: CB Jeff Gladney, CB Mike Hughes (1st), K Daniel Carlson (5th), TE Zach Davidson (5th), EDGE Patrick Jones II (3rd), Irv Smith Jr. (2nd), QB Kellen Mond (3rd)
Plays for Another Team: CB Mike Hughes (1st – Chiefs), K Daniel Carlson (5th – just signed a multi-year deal with Raiders), S Marcus Epps (6th – Eagles)
Pros: With the recent firing of former GM Rick Spielman, you would expect that he would have been pretty unsuccessful in some of their most recent drafts, but he actually did a pretty nice job.
In the last four years, he has drafted Pro Bowl WR Justin Jefferson, re-built pretty much the entirety of their offensive line with four quality starters (O’Neill, Bradbury, Cleveland and Darrisaw), and have added several contributing offensive skill players in the later rounds, such as RB Alexander Mattison (3rd), and WR K.J. Osborn and TE Tyler Conklin in the 5th.
Cons: The position that has been biggest kryptonite in recent drafts has been cornerback. They swung and missed on two first round picks – Jeff Gladney (2020), who was arrested and released from the team and Mike Hughes (2018), who actually has been a contributing part of Kansas City’s defense.
Former 2019 2nd-round pick Irv Smith Jr. has had difficulty staying on the field, and while there is still optimism he could be a productive receiving tight end, they most likely regret selecting him the pick before Titans WR A.J. Brown. QB Kellen Mond, who was selected in the third round last year was also a bit of a reach.
Analysis: Minnesota has done a very nice job building their young core around the draft, but would be much higher on this list if they didn’t miss on two 1st round picks (Gladney & Hughes).
Stay tuned for the final edition of the rankings: Top 8 Teams.