Which NFL team has the best record at the draft?

So i was watching the Ravens beat up on the Chargers on Sunday, and CBS put up on the screen the names of some the Baltimore’s key draft selections over the past 7 or 8 years. It was a pretty damned impressive list. I can’t remember exactly who they listed, but here are some of the Ravens draft choices since 1996:

**2002: Ed Reed **

Already making a major contribution to the defense, including a couple of key interceptions

2001: Todd Heap

Jeremy Shockey fans notwithstanding, Heap is about the best young tight end in the game.

2000: Jamal Lewis

Helped the Ravens to a Superbowl title with 1000+ yards in his rookie year, and holds NFL record for most rushing yards in a game.

1999: Chris McAlister

When he actually turns up (i.e. not last week) has the potential to be one of the best at his position.

1997: Peter Boulware

Key man in the defense.

1996: Jon Ogden; Ray Lewis

What more can you say? Probably the best in the NFL at their positions.
These are only the most obvious success stories. There are a bunch of others who have turned, or will turn in to excellent NFL players.

I don’t keep a really close eye on how other teams have fared over time with their draft selections, so i’m looking for your opinion. How good is your team at picking future stars from the draft?

Maybe a good question also, for those who know more about the game than me (i’ve only been in the US for three years) is: How strong a correlation is there between someone’s college career and the career they have in the NFL? That is, do all the really big-name college players end up having solid NFL careers?

The reason i ask this is that, when i watch Monday night football and the players give their names and their colleges, quite a high proportion of NFL players seems to come from schools that i’ve barely even heard of. Watching college football on Saturdays, i’d expect about 90% of the NFL to come from places like Miami, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Florida, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, etc., etc. But this doesn’t seem to be the case.

That is a pretty impressive list. Ed Reed is quickly turning into a stud – The Steelers were hoping against hope that he would fall to them last year. Heap is the total package, he just doesn’t have the mouth that Shockey does. I like both of them a lot.

If you want to go back a few years, it’s pretty widely accepted that the Steelers 1974 draft was the single greatest in history.
Their picks:

1st round: Lynn Swann (21st pick)
2nd round: Jack Lambert (46th pick)
4th round: John Stallworth (82nd pick)
5th round: Mike Webster (125th pick).

All 4 went on to the HOF.

The past few years have been pretty good after some dreadful picks in the early/mid 90s

1997: Chad Scott – Bah. He’s a serviceable CB but he’s not great. He had a severe knee injury shortly after entering the league. We still need an upgrade here.

1998: Alan Faneca – great pick. Pro Bowl Tackle considered among the elite at his position.

1999: Troy Edwards – Total Bust. Locker Room cancer who’s problems were always someone else’s fault. He went to St Louis last year and they just cut him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he did not land in the NFL again.

2000: Plaxico Burress – Great pick. Already considered one of the greats, he has the size and ability to move himself into the elite crowd of WRs (Owens, Moss)

2001: Casey Hampton – Great pick again. To run a successful 3-4 defense the NT is the most important position, and he is quickly gaining respect as disruptive force and a fantastic player.

2002: Kendall Simmons – Too soon to tell for sure, but his play at tackle has been solid. Looks like a winner.

2002 (second round) Kendrell Bell – monster LB who is still learning. Defensive ROY in 2002.

2003: Troy Polamalu – hope he can make an impact on our hurting secondary soon. Still learning.

As far as studly college careers equaling good NFL careers? Sometimes it does but very often it does not. It’s a pretty big step from playing at the college level to playing at the Pro level. a lot of players do not make it. Recent examples of a great college players who sucked eggs in the NFL:

Ryan Leaf
Ki-Jana Carter
Rashaan Salaam
Akili Smith

There’s plenty more.

You’re spoiled living here in Baltimore. Homerism aside, the Ravens are far and away the best drafting team in the NFL ( at least for 1st round draft selections, and even their stuff deeper in the draft has been pretty good. )

The one you’re missing there is Duane Starks, a 4 year starter here who was starting at CB for Arizona before he got hurt, he’s out for the season.

Oh, yea, you forgot this year’s draft. Suggs has 3 sacks and an int in 3 games, and Boller’s the starting QB. Not bad so far, although it’s too early to make a final judgement.

Packer fan here.

The last decade or so, the Pack is notorious for getting absolute stiffs with their high picks (1st rounders), then getting good players in the 3-5 round area. Green Bay’s last good first rounder was …hmmmm…Vonnie Holiday I suppose. The MLB they drafted this year has started since game one though, so maybe that’ll add another.

Your list of Baltimore’s picks since '96 is impressive. That’s pretty damn good for something as hit-or-miss as the draft. HOw many of their middle rounders are still around though?

The correlation between college career and pro career is a crapshoot almost. If you can predict that accurately, you’ll make LOADS of cash as a draft consultant.

There are a few who come to mind:


Dave Zastudil (4th round). yeah, i know he’s only a punter.
Lamont Brightful (6th)
Chester Taylor (6th)


Gary Baxter (2nd)


Travis Taylor (1st)
Chris Reman (3rd)
Adalius Thomas (6th)


Edwin Mulitalo (4th)
This seems like a reasonable collection. I don’t know how this compares to other teams.

Clearly it’s the Jets. Oh wait, you’re not asking about the worst…

The Giants, historically, do not lend much credence to free agency, and prefer to build their team from the draft. They also, traditionally, do not trade up (or down), but stick with their own picks. (Shockey was an exception…they targeted him the whole way, and had to trade up to be sure to get him.)

The Giants may have the highest percentage of drafted players on their active roster of any team in the NFL.

The main exception to the “no trade” rule is Kerry Collins. Not for lack of effort, though…there were countless failed attempts at drafting a successor to Phil Simms.

Current Giant impact players that were drafted by the Giants, and have spent their entire pro careers as a Giant, listed chronologically:

Keith Hamilton: 1992, 4th round, 99th overall

Michael Strahan: 1993, 2nd round, 40th overall

Amani Toomer: 1996, 2nd round, 34th overall

Ike Hilliard: 1997, 1st round, 7th overall

Tiki Barber: 1997, 2nd round, 36th overall

Shaun Williams: 1998, 1st round, 24th overall

Luke Petitgout: 1999, 1st round, 19th overall

Cornelius Griffin: 2000, 2nd round, 42nd overall

Will Allen: 2001, 1st round, 22nd overall

William Peterson: 2001, 3rd round, 78th overall

Jeremy Shockey: 2002, 1st round, 14th overall

As a Giants fan, I am a huge fan of Ernie Accorsi. That guy sure knows how to build a team through the draft. And despite the myriad QB busts, at least he finally gave up and went with a (great) free agent. (Please, nobody remind me about Ron Dayne.)

William Joseph (first round DT from this year) looks like he has some potential.

Honestly, it is refreshing to have a team built almost entirely through the draft. I pity the Jets fans, who continually watch their great draftees be traded away…to the Bucs in 2000, the Texans in 2001, and the Skins in 2002…only to be replaced by 30-something journeyman who consistently play below their ability. (Conway is a joke.)

Go Big Blue!

First round picks, Derrick Brooks (28th overall) was last years NFL Defensive player of the year. Warren Sapp (12th overall) was a Pro Bowl selection, again. The rest of this draft class didn’t do much, but just these two might be worth grading this year an “A”.

First round pick Regan Upshaw started for three years, before moving on to the Raiders and now the Redskins.
The Bucs had a second first rounder in 1996, Marcus Jones, who starts at Defensive End (although he’s currently injured).
Second round pick Mike Alstott has been a perenial and controversial starter as fullback in the Pro Bowl, but is regardless a solid on-field contributor.
Third round pick Donnie Abraham was a high caliber CB for many years before following Herm Edwards to the Jets as a Free Agent.

First round pick Warrick Dunn had many good years for the Bucs but left a couple of years ago in free agency to the Falcons, where he continues to start.
Second round pick Jerry Wunsch started for three years, but left for the Seahawks two years ago.
Third round pick Frank Middleton started for years and played guard against the Bucs in last year’s Super Bowl in a Raiders uniform. Also in the third round, Ronde Barber is possibly the best in the NFL at his position and should have been a Pro Bowl starter (again) last year, but opposing defenses didn’t throw at him, so his picks were down. Shutdown corner, and maybe better overall player than his brother.
Fourth round pick Alshermond Singleton was a starter until he left in free agency this year to the Dallas Cowboys.
Fifth round pick Patrick Hape was a blocking TE for a while, until he left for Denver where he was converted to a fullback, IIRC.

Jacquez Green was their first selection, but in the second round (I don’t recall why). He started for a while but lately has been struggling to stay on teams as a third receiver. But Brian Kelly, who lead the league in interceptions for most of last season had a great year and should have been in the Pro Bowl. He probably will make it this year.
Third round pick Jamie Duncan started at inside linebacker for a while before following linebackers coach Lovie Smith to the St. Louis Rams.
Fourth round pick Todd Washington is still starting at guard and occasionally plays center for the Bucs.
Sixth round pick James Cannida was a situational player for years, before following Tony Dungy to Indianapolis.

Anthony “Booger” MacFarland, first round pick, has many saying that he is the best defensive tackle on the team. And the other one is probably going to be in the Hall of Fame.
Second round pick Shaun King started xx games at QB, including the NFC championship game in 2000. Since Brad Johnson was acquired he’s been relegated to a backup role.
Third rounder Martin Grammatica is one of the best kickers in the NFL, although a lot of people apparently hate his guts.
Fourth rounder Dexter Jackson was the MVP in last year’s Super Bowl, but moved to Arizona in the offseason in free agency.

There was no first round pick.
Cosey Coleman, selected in the second round, is a starting guard.
Nate Webster, selected in the third round, is a starting inside linebacker (filling in for Shelton Quarles, who has a broken ulna).
There was no fourth round pick.

Kenyatta Walker, selected in the first round, is the starting right tackle.
Dwight Smith, selected in the second round, is the starting free safety.
John Howell, selected in the third round, is the backup strong safety (behind John Lynch, who is a perennial Pro Bowl selection, but drafted before I began this analysis).
Russ Hochstein, selected in the fourth round, is a backup guard.
Jameel Cook, selected in the fifth round, is the starting fullback.
Ellis Wyms, selected in the sixth round, is a starting defensive end.

In 2002, the Bucs traded their top two draft picks for Coach Jon Gruden, who took the team to the Super Bowl in his first year with the team, which they won. IMO draft picks well spent. The only other two players from this draft who’ve done anything are FS Jermaine Phillips (6th round) and CB Tim Wansley (7th round), who both play special teams and backup at their respective positions. Wansley plays in some nickel and dime packages. The Bucs traded their second round pick from this draft for former Cardinals 1st round pick Thomas Jones. Jones is an insurance backup for Michael Pittman, also from the Cards.

Overall, pretty damned good. Which may be why they won the Super Bowl last year.