With the 2022 NFL Draft quickly approaching in less than 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 three editions of the rankings:
Now for the final edition of the rankings: The Top 8 NFL Teams.
Here are the top 8 teams that have demonstrated over the last four years that they are one of the top NFL organizations when it comes to building their roster through the draft.
Some of the teams listed here are not a big surprise, but a trend that you will see is that each franchise is filled with plenty of talented players on rookie contracts all across their roster. Five of the top eight teams made the playoffs this past season.
Starting from 8 to 1, here are the Top 8 Teams:
8. Baltimore Ravens
Top Value Picks: TE Mark Andrews (3rd), QB Lamar Jackson (1st), OT Orlando Brown (3rd), C Bradley Bozeman, S DeShon Elliot (6th), WR Marquise Brown (1st), EDGE Odafe Oweh (1st), RB J.K. Dobbins (2nd), G Ben Powers (4th)
Worst Value Picks: TE Hayden Hurst (1st), WR Jaleel Scott (4th), WR Jordan Lasley, DT Daylon Mack, FB Ben Mason (5th), RB Justice Hill, CB Iman Marshall, WR Tylan Wallace (4th), OLB Jaylon Ferguson, WR Miles Boykin (3rd)
Plays for Another Team: OT Orlando Brown (3rd – traded to Chiefs last offseason for a 1st-round pick), LB Kenny Young (4th – traded to Rams, Broncos), G Ben Bredeson (4th- traded to Giants), CB Shaun Wade (5th – traded to Patriots), DL Zach Sieler (7th – Dolphins)
Pros: Their 2018 draft, which happened to be the last one under their previous GM Ozzie Newsome (before he retired) – could have arguably been the best draft class in the past 4 years.. They selected 2019 MVP QB Lamar Jackson (32nd overall).. In the 3rd round, they added 1st team All-Pro TE Mark Andrews, and 3x Pro Bowl OT Orlando Brown (who was trading last offseason to the Chiefs). They also added 2 impactful starters in the 6th round; C Bradley Bozeman (2nd-highest Pass Block Win Rate as a Center in 2021) and starting safety DeShon Elliot.
Cons: The Ravens could have made the Top 10 on this last, just purely off of the results from their legendary 2018 draft class alone. What prevents them from being ranked higher, is their drafts between (2019-21) have been for the most part pretty average.
Their only ‘bad value pick’ in the first two rounds was Hayden Hurst, a 2018 1st-round pick who they ended up trading him to Atlanta. They fortunately made up for that pick 2 rounds later with Mark Andrews.. Wide receiver seems to be their biggest draft weakness, as they have spent 8 draft picks in the last four years, two in each draft and the majority of them have not panned out.. The rest of their “worst value picks” were 4th or 5th round picks that never ended up having a role with the team.
Overall: The Ravens are viewed as one of the top teams when it comes to the draft, but recently they have been pretty average. If they were able to hit on more of their mid-round picks they could have been rated higher on the list.
7. Buffalo Bills
Best Value Picks: QB Josh Allen (1st), WR Gabriel Davis, CB Taron Johnson (4th), TE Dawson Knox (3rd), Ed Oliver (1st), DT Harrison Phillips, OT Spencer Brown (3rd), Gregory Rousseau (1st), CB Dane Jackson (7th), DB Siran Neal (5th)
Worst Value Picks: G Cody Ford (2nd), QB Jake Fromm (5th), LB Vosean Joseph (5th), LB Tremaine Edmunds (1st)
Plays for Another Team: G Wyatt Teller (5th – traded to Browns), Ray-Ray McCloud (6th – Steelers), DE Darryl Johnson (7th – traded to Panthers)
Pros: Buffalo has done an excellent job at drafting the past several years under GM Brandon Beane. The headline of the past 4 drafts was selected franchise QB Josh Allen in the 2018 first round. Besides Allen, he has hit on the majority of 1st-round picks, including DT Ed Oliver (7th-highest Pass Rush Win Rate (13%) as a DT (via ESPN), and rookie DE Greg Rousseau (5th-highest Run Stop Win Rate (30%) as a a DE/OLB (via ESPN).
What is even more impressive is how they’ve been able to find some hidden gems in the mid-round. Players like WR Gabriel Davis, CB Taron Johnson, TE Dawson Knox, OT Spencer Brown and even Browns starting G Wyatt Teller (who they took in the 5th round) all were great value picks. They did not have a 1st-round pick in 2020, but traded it to Minnesota for Stefon Diggs, which turned out to be a major success.
Cons: They have not made any significant mistakes in their recent drafts, but a few of their picks turned out to be underwhelming. Former 2018 1st-round LB Tremaine Edmunds, has been a bit of a disappointment, when considering his draft pick. While Edmunds thrives off pass-rushing and run defense, he’s been a liability in pass coverage – which was ranked 78th out of 80 graded LBs, according to PFF.
Offensive linemen Cody Ford, a 2019 2nd round pick, has struggled and ended up eventually losing his starting job this season. QB Jake Fromm (2019 5th round) was released from the team. Running back is a position that they’ve tried addressing, spending two picks on (Devin Singletary & Zack Moss). While they have both briefly flashed at times; neither have solidified themselves as a reliable starting RB.
Overall: Buffalo has made a complete turnaround since Beane took over as GM, and a lot of that has to do with his success in the draft, especially with Josh Allen. There have not had any critical mistakes, but if they were able to hit on a few more picks in the early rounds, they could have easily landed in the Top 5.
6. Philadelphia Eagles
Top Value Picks: OT Jordan Mailata (7th), TE Dallas Goedert (2nd), CB Avonte Maddox, DE Josh Sweat (4th), QB Jalen Hurts, C Landon Dickerson, RB Miles Sanders (2nd), WR DeVonta Smith (1st), RB Kenneth Gainwell (5th), WR Quez Watkins, LB Shaun Bradley (6th), OL Jack Driscoll (4th), LB Patrick Johnson (7th)
Worst Value Picks: Jalen Reagor (1st), WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside (2nd), DE Shareef Miller (4th), QB Clayton Thorson, WR John Hightower (5th)
Playing for Another Team: OL Matt Pryor (6th – Colts), OT Prince Tega Wanogho (6th – Chiefs), DE Casey Toohill (7th – WFT)
Pros: It might be a bit surprising to see Philadelphia so high on this list, but when you look into it, their work speaks for itself.. The Eagles have quietly done an exceptional job at building their team through the draft over the past several years.. Their 2018 draft class turned out to be incredible draft class, despite not having a pick in the 1st, 3rd or 5th round..
That 2018 class included TE Dallas Goedert (the 2nd-highest ranked TE on PFF), former rugby player and 7th-round OT Jordan Mailata (4th-highest Run Block Win Rate for an OT & 3rd-highest ranked OT on PFF), DE Josh Sweat (finished 3rd in NFL amongst DE/OLB with a 26% Pass Rush Win Rate) and CB Avonte Maddox (22nd-ranked CB on PFF). All four players have been highly impactful and extremely valuable to their organization, and were all rewarded with multi-year contract extensions.
GM Howie Roseman has also done a terrific job adding several key offensive players in the 2nd-round, including starting QB Jalen Hurts, RB Miles Sanders and rookie OL Landon Dickerson (who finished with the 2nd-highest Run Block Win Rate for a guard). They’ve also added former Heisman trophy winner DeVonta Smith in the first round, who should have a bright NFL future.
Cons: Besides last year’s rookie receiver DeVonta Smith & 2018 6th-round pick Quez Watkins, the Eagles biggest kryptonite in the draft has been wide receiver.. They infamously selected Jalen Reagor in the 2020 first round over Justin Jefferson, but that wasn’t their only mistake.. The previous year they selected WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside in the second round, who only has 16 career receptions in 3 seasons, who was selected over D.K. Metcalf (216 REC) & Diontae Johnson (254 REC)..
Overall: The Eagles have done such a nice job building their roster through the draft the past several years. The selection of Jalen Reagor has received a ton of backlash, but the pick almost has blinded people from noticing their recent success in the draft. The majority of the reason why they surprisingly made the playoffs last season, was directly reflected by the impact of many of their recent draft picks.
5. Tennessee Titans
Top Value Picks: WR A.J. Brown (2nd), DT Jeffery Simmons (1st), OLB Harold Landry (2nd), LB David Long (6th), S Amani Hooker (4th), CB Kristian Fulton (2nd), DB Elijah Molden, G Nate Davis (3rd), CB Chris Jackson (7th), S Dane Cruikshank, DT Larrell Murchison (5th)
Worst Value Picks: OT Isaiah Wilson (1st), RB Darrynton Evans (3rd), OLB D’Andre Walker (5th), CB Caleb Farley (1st), WR Dez Fitzpatrick (4th), QB Luke Falk (6th), QB Cole McDonald (7th)
Plays for Another Team: OT Isaiah Wilson (1st – Giants), Brady Breeze (6th – Lions)
Pros: Titans GM Jon Robinson has done a fantastic job building their team into a consistent playoff caliber roster through the draft. The pieces that they’ve added over the past four years have quickly developed into key franchise leaders and contributors.
Their three most notable picks have all earned Pro Bowl honors: WR A.J. Brown, OLB Harold Landry & DT Jeffrey Simmons. Brown is one of the top young recievers in the NFL. Landry just had a breakout season and received a massive contract extension, and Simmons is one of the top interior defensive linemen in the NFL.
Their best draft class was in 2019, which included Simmons & Brown, as well as starting safety Amani Hooker (3rd-ranked S on PFF), ILB David Long (18th-highest graded ILB via PFF) & starting RG Nate Davis.
Cons: Although Tennessee has done an excellent job recently in the draft, they have had struggles in the first round. Their 2020 first round pick OT Isaiah Wilson, never played for the team. Last year’s first round pick, CB Caleb Farley was considered to be a potential Top 10 pick last offseason, but was in the middle of recovering from a back injury. Farley eventually ended up suffering a season-ending injury, which leaves even more concerns regarding his durability..
Overall: The Titans are starting to prove that they are one of the best teams in the NFL at building their roster through the draft. The majority of their key contributing players have been home grown talent, which has helped make Tennessee a consistent force in the AFC. If they were able to hit on either of their previous two first round picks, they could have possibly been ranked a few spots higher.
4. Los Angeles Chargers
Top Picks: QB Justin Herbert, OT Rashawn Slater, S Derwin James (1st), CB Asante Samuel Jr. (2nd), LB Drue Tranquill (4th), DT Justin Jones (3rd), RB Justin Jackson (7th), LB Kyzir White (4th), WR Josh Palmer (3rd), S Alohi Gilman (6th)
Worst Picks: DT Jerry Tillery (1st), RB Joshua Kelley (4th), WR Joe Reed (5th)
Pros: The Chargers have done such a tremendous job in the 1st rounds over the past four years. Three of their last four 1st round picks were selected to the Pro Bowl this year (QB Justin Herbert, OT Rashawn Slater, S Derwin James). GM Tom Telesco hit the jackpot with the selection of Justin Herbert, who should set the trajectory of this franchise to be a regular championship contender in the near future.
Rookie OT Rashawn Slater instantly was a plug-in-play star for their offensive line, he finished as the 8th-highest graded OT on PFF, earning All-Pro honors. Safety Derwin James is the heart of their defense; his return from injury helped provide a spark to the defense. They’ve also impressively found value in the mid-rounds, by adding defensive contributors like DT Justin Jones (3rd), LBs Kyzir White & Drue Tranquill (4th) and S Alohi Gillman (6th).
Cons: GM Tom Telesco has been very efficient with his picks, as there have not been too many misses the past four years.. The one pick to criticize the value of would be former 1st-round pick Jerry Tillery. Tillery still has time to improve and should not be considered a ‘bust’, but there is no question that he has underperformed so far for a first round pick.. He was graded a 45.9 on PFF (which was ranked 98th of 111 interior DL). Besides that, there wasn’t really anything else significant to criticize.
Overall: While the Chargers are still looking to make their mark as one of the top AFC contenders, there is plenty of reason for optimism going forward. Telesco has consistently hit big on their first round picks, now they need to continue to draft well, provide Herbert with the right surrounding pieces, and maximize the cap flexibility of having Herbert still on a rookie contract.
3. Cincinnati Bengals
Top Value Picks: QB Joe Burrow (1st Overall), S Jessie Bates (2nd), WRs Ja’Marr Chase (1st), Tee Higgins (2nd), LB Logan Wilson (3rd), DE Sam Hubbard (3rd), OT Jonah Williams (1st), K Evan McPherson (5th)
Worst Value Picks: C Billy Price (1st), QB Ryan Finley (4th), LB Malik Jefferson (3rd), G Jackson Carman (2nd), RB Mark Walton (4th), DT Renell Wren (4th), DT Andrew Brown (5th)
Pros: The AFC champions have done such an amazing job turning around the franchise in the past few drafts. Their success is highlighted by the selections of QB Joe Burrow and WRs Ja’Marr Chase & Tee Higgins. Burrow, who just recently turned 25, has already led his team to the Super Bowl in his second year as a starter. He won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year, after coming off a rookie season where he tore his ACL — he threw for 4,611 YDS-34 TDS-14 INTS and was ProFootballFocus’s highest-graded quarterback in 2021.
The decision to select his former college teammate Ja’Marr Chase last year has been a massive success – Chase finished 2nd-team All-Pro as a rookie. Tee Higgins is also a rising star, he was the 7th-WR selected in the 2020 Draft, but has the 3rd-most reception yards, trailing only Justin Jefferson & CeeDee Lamb.
While the success of Burrow/Chase/Higgins has received much of the attention, what separates their recent drafts from some of the teams ranked lower is how they were able to find elite defensive players in the mid-rounds. These players include All-Pro S Jessie Bates, a former 2018 2nd-round pick who just received a franchise tag. In the third round they’ve landed DE Sam Hubbard who also received a contract extension, finished 2021 with the 2nd-highest run stop win rate for a DE/OLB in 2021 & 1st in 2020). ILB Logan Wilson had a breakout season finishing with 4 interceptions.
Cons: Despite all of the great picks they’ve had the past few years, they have missed on a lot of picks in the mid-rounds (3rd-5th), but the majority of those picks were around 2018 & 2019. Their most notable miss was center Billy Price, who they selected 21st overall in the 2018 first round and now plays for the Giants.
Overall: The Bengals are starting to build something great here, in thanks to their tremendous job at drafting overall the last several years. They have not typically been viewed as one of the top drafting teams, but the times have changed over here in Cincinnati.. The core that they have drafted and developed the past few years all started to form into shape this season. They now have the cap flexibility with Burrow still on a rookie contract to improve this roster even more, perhaps spending money in free agency on offensive linemen.
2. Indianapolis Colts
Top Value Picks: G Quenton Nelson (1st), LB Darius Leonard, RB Jonathan Taylor, WR Michael Pittman, OT Braden Smith (2nd), LB Bobby Okereke, S Julian Blackmon (3rd), Kwity Paye (1st), CB Rock Ya-Sin, DL Tyquan Lewis (2nd), RB Nyheim Hines, S Khari Willis (4th), Isaiah Rodgers (6th)
Worst Value Picks: QB Jacob Eason (4th), WR Parris Campbell, EDGE Ben Banogu (2nd), WR Daurice Fountain, CB Marvin Tell (5th)
Plays for Another Team: QB Jacob Eason (4th – Seahawks)
Pros: The Colts just traded away Carson Wentz and still are in the process of searching for a franchise QB.. but on the bright side, GM Chris Ballard has absolutely dominated the draft since taking over in 2017. His draf success started in 2018, where he traded back in the draft with the Jets to acquire more picks. Ballard ended up turning those picks into two 3x 1st-team All-Pro players in G Quenton Nelson & LB Darius Leonard; as well as RT Braden Smith, who finished 2021 4th amongst NFL OTs in Pass Block Win Rate (93%) & 5th in Run Block Win Rate.
Ballard has done such an incredible job finding premier talent in the 2nd round. In addition to Leonard & Smith, despite not having a first-round pick in 2020, Ballard struck gold twice in the 2nd round, with the selections of NFL leading-rusher Jonathan Taylor (1,811 YDS-18 TDS) and their No. 1 WR Michael Pittman (88 REC-1,082 YDS-6 TDS).
On defense, last year in the first they added DE Kwity Paye, who appears to have a very bright future. Outside of the first round, he has done a great job at finding value in the mid-round, where he’s landed players such as CB Rock Ya-Sin & DL Tyquan Lewis in the 2nd and LB Bobby Okereke & S Julian Blackmon in the 3rd.
Cons: While it might be unfair to label Parris Campbell as a ‘disappointment’, since he’s had difficulties staying healthy.. Either way, the Colts have to regret selecting him in 2019 over D.K. Metcalf & Diontae Johnson, as Campbell has only 34 career catches in 3 seasons. Another disappointing pick was QB Jacob Eason, who they spent a 4th rounder on in 2020. Besides that, there is not really much to be critical about since Ballard has taken over as GM.
Overall: Ballard, who received a contract extension last August, is making his case for the top general manager right now in the NFL. The only real public criticism on his tenure has been the inability of adding a franchise QB to pair with this star-studded roster.
His results in the past four drafts speaks for itself – the fact that they’ve landed 2 3x All-Pro players & one of the top right tackles in the NFL in the same draft, along with the NFL leading-rusher and a No. 1 receiver in another draft is unbelievable.
1. Dallas Cowboys
Top Value Picks: LB Micah Parsons (1st), WR CeeDee Lamb (1st), CB Trevon Diggs (2nd), RB Tony Pollard (4th), TE Dalton Schultz (5th), C Tyler Biadsz (4th), WR Michael Gallup, G Connor McGovern (3rd), G Connor Williams (2nd), DE Dorance Armstrong (4th), WR Cedrick Wilson, S Donovan Wilson (6th), LB Leighton Vander Esch (1st)
Worst Value Picks: CB Michael Jackson, DE Joe Jackson (5th), OT Josh Ball (4th), Bradlee Anae (5th), CB Nahshon Wright (3rd)
Plays for Another Team: QB Mike White (5th – Jets), CB Michael Jackson (5th – Seahawks, DE Joe Jackson (5th – Chiefs)
Pros: This might come as a surprise, but the Cowboys have quietly dominated the past four drafts – landing them as the No. 1 overall team on this list. Dallas has hit on the majority of their draft picks, with very few misses.. In those drafts, they have made 3 first-round selections, those picks ended up being 1st team All-Pro LB Micah Parsons (No. 1 ranked LB on PFF, 4th-most QB hits in the NFL), WR CeeDee Lamb (8th-ranked WR on PFF) & LB Leighton Vander Esch (made Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2018).
What is even more impressive, is the amount of talent that they have added between rounds 2-6. Some of those highly-impactful players include: 1st Team All-Pro & the NFL INT-leader CB Trevon Diggs, RB Tony Pollard (4th-ranked RB on PFF), TE Dalton Schultz (3rd-most RECs for a TE in 2021 behind only Andrews & Kelce).
They have also added two solid WRs in Michael Gallup (3rd) & Cedrick Wilson (6th), as well as several quality offensive linemen including guards Connor Williams (11th-ranked G on PFF) & Connor McGovern; as well as center Tyler Biadsz (6th-highest run block rate for a center, via ESPN).
Cons: There really is not much to criticize regarding the Cowboys recent draft classes – as they’ve done an excellent job all-around. Their biggest criticism, which is definitely a minor one, is that a few of their mid-round picks are no longer on the team, including Jets backup QB Mike White, who was a 5th-round pick of theirs in 2018.
Overall: The Cowboys surprisingly do not receive nearly enough credit for their recent success in the draft. A lot of the impactful players on their team are players that they’ve drafted within the past four years.
The fact that they’ve added two defensive MVP candidates (Micah Parsons & Trevon Diggs), one of the best young wide receivers in the NFL (CeeDee Lamb), and still managed to hit big on a significant amount of other notable players, lands them No. 1 on this list.