No sport places more value on consistently drafting well than football. One pick can set a basketball or hockey team up for a decade. Top baseball prospects don’t pan out all the time, and the ones that do are often traded for more established players. The sheer amount of players on NFL rosters means teams rely on rookies to play a meaningful role from day one.
After grading every NFL draft from 2010 to 2019, 110 Sports wanted to determine which teams had the best drafts in the 2010s. To do this, the grades teams received for all 10 years were assigned numerical values. The scoring system is as follows: A+=100 points, A=95, A-=92.5, B+=87.5, B=85, C+=77.5, C=75, C-=72.5, D+=67.5, D=65, D-=62.5 and F=50.
The single highest grade was used as a tiebreaker in the case of a tie. If the teams’ highest grade was the same, the tie went to the team who received that grade more often.
Here’s how things turned out.
32. New York Jets (782.5 total points)
It is not exactly surprising to see the Jets at the bottom of the list. Jamal Adams is one of the few bright spots in the team’s recent draft history and he was not interested in sticking around long-term.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (815)
From Justin Blackmon to Blake Bortles to Luke Joeckel, Jacksonville did not make the most of its nine top-10 picks in the decade. Excellent drafts in 2016 and 2019 were enough to keep the Jaguars out of last by a wide margin though.
30. Cleveland Browns (820)
No team that drafts well is going 0-16, so the Browns were always going to be near the bottom of this list. Vastly improved selections have a lot to do with the team’s return to competence since the Baker Mayfield draft in 2018.
29. Indianapolis Colts (825)
The only time from 2010 to 2015 the Colts were given better than a C+ was when they drafted Andrew Luck. Things have gotten much better since Chris Ballard arrived, most notably in 2018 when he took Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard.
28. Minnesota Vikings (827.5)
Minnesota never did worse than a C- but also only got better than a C+ five times. The Vikings found success in the second round with the likes of Dalvin Cook, Kyle Rudolph and Eric Kendricks to help make up for some first round misses.
27. San Francisco 49ers (830)
It was hit or miss for the 49ers, who ended up with just one grade in the B range. Fred Warner and Nick Bosa headline two strong draft classes to close out the decade.
26. Detroit Lions (830)
There was some good (Ndamukong Suh, Larry Warford), some bad (Nick Fairley, Jahvid Best) and quite a bit of average for the Lions. The 2011 group is what kept Detroit from ending up somewhere in the middle of the pack.
25. Las Vegas/Oakland Raiders (830)
Aside from grabbing Khalil Mack and Derek Carr in 2014, the draft was not kind to the Raiders. On the bright side, they easily had the most impressive group of rookies last season. It just wasn’t enough to make up for all the poor drafts before it.
24. New York Giants (835)
Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley stand out in what was an otherwise pedestrian collection of first round picks. The 2019 class will end up looking much worse if Daniel Jones doesn’t establish himself as a reliable starter.
23. Arizona Cardinals (840)
There isn’t much to get excited about in between Patrick Peterson in 2011 and Kyler Murray in 2019, although there are some solid drafts in there. For every Tyrann Mathieu there is a Jonathan Cooper, which keeps the Cardinals near the bottom.
22. Baltimore Ravens (840)
The Ravens had a bunch of decent drafts paired with an excellent one because of Lamar Jackson in 2018. They only drafted inside the top 15 once, taking Ronnie Stanley sixth overall in 2016.
21. Denver Broncos (840)
The beginning of the decade was great with Demaryius Thomas, Von Miller and Malik Jackson in back-to-back-to-back years. Denver struggled after that until Bradley Chubb and Courtland Sutton came along in 2018.
20. Cincinnati Bengals (842.5)
Cincinnati built the core of a playoff team from 2010 to 2013 and hasn’t done much noteworthy since. There is a clear correlation between their performance on the field and their success in the draft.
19. New England Patriots (845)
Rough drafts in 2018 and 2019 distort what was otherwise an excellent set of classes. Two of New England’s first three picks in 2018 missed their entire rookie seasons, so there isn’t enough data to draw a fair conclusion yet.
18. Seattle Seahawks (850)
The Seahawks built their championship team through the draft but haven’t been able to replicate the feat once that group disbanded. If you’re wondering why Seattle hasn’t sniffed the Super Bowl since losing to the Patriots in 2014, the draft goes a long way toward explaining it.
17. Tennessee Titans (857.5)
The quarterback position was a struggle for Tennessee as neither Jake Locker nor Marcus Mariota worked out. The talent the Titans have accumulated over the past four years deserves some recognition as well.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (857.5)
Much like the Seahawks, the Eagles formed one of the best rosters in the league thanks to picks like Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson and Carson Wentz but failed to maintain it after their Super Bowl triumph. The lack of weapons at Wentz’s disposal is not because Philadelphia is unaware of the problem.
15. Houston Texans (860)
The three times Houston had a top-15 pick, it drafted Jadeveon Clowney, J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson. Not too shabby. Stringing together multiple impact players in a year is where the Texans struggled in the 2010s.
14. Buffalo Bills (860)
The Bills are proof that three exceptional drafts in a row really can make a massive difference. Buffalo’s gone from an organization desperate to simply make the playoffs to one of the most complete teams in the league in just a handful of years.
13. Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers (862.5)
Between Ryan Matthews and Melvin Gordon at the running back position to Joey Bosa, the Chargers have done well but never had a truly outstanding class. Enough talent had come in to generally keep the team competitive though.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (862.5)
Jameis Winston was the defining selection of the 2010s for Tampa Bay, who consistently brought in really good players like Doug Martin, Ali Marpet and Kwon Alexander. The issue was translating that talent into wins.
11. Miami Dolphins (862.5)
Miami had some outstanding picks who have since moved on such as Jarvis Landry and Minkah Fitzpatrick. As a result, the Dolphins’ draft grades aren’t the best indicator of the talent level of the team.
10. Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams (865)
Selecting Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn and Todd Gurley is always going to help. Taking Greg Robinson and Tavon Austin in the top 10 in consecutive drafts? Not so much.
9. Chicago Bears (865)
By and large, the Bears did a really good job with their early picks. The two main exceptions are their two highest selections: Mitch Trubisky (No. 2 overall in 2017) and Kevin White (No. 7 overall in 2015).
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (867.5)
Pittsburgh is one of those teams that continues to refill its talent pool despite drafting near the end of the first round. Linebacker and wide receiver were particular areas of strength.
7. Washington Football Team (867.5)
Remember that Washington got credit for Kirk Cousins and drafted some outstanding linemen on both sides of the football. The impressive showing from last year’s class helped out too.
6. Carolina Panthers (872.5)
Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly and Christian McCaffrey are three of the better selections of the last 10 years. Then you throw in the Josh Normans and Trai Turner’s of the world and it makes sense why Carolina is this high.
5. Green Bay Packers (872.5)
Just because Aaron Rodgers hasn’t gotten as much help as most people would like doesn’t mean the Packers haven’t drafted well. The defensive backs stand out as an especially impressive group for Green Bay.
4. Atlanta Falcons (875)
Atlanta managed to finish inside the top five despite being the only team to receive an F. That’s what picking Grady Jarrett, Damontae Kazee and Ricardo Allen in the fifth round will do for you.
3. Dallas Cowboys (877.5)
Dallas was always going to be near the top of this list. Between the offensive line, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott (not to mention the defense and Dez Bryant), the talent is undeniable.
2. New Orleans Saints (890)
New Orleans was as consistent as any team outside New England in the 2010s. Drew Brees is obviously a big reason why, but he’s gotten plenty of assistance along the way. Second makes complete sense with how good they’ve been.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (897.5)
Before Patrick Mahomes showed up, the Chiefs drafted Justin Houston, Dee Ford, Travis Kelce and Marcus Peters among others. Then came Mahomes and all his weapons. It’s hard to argue the Chiefs don’t belong in the top spot even if the team wasn’t always Super Bowl-caliber.
Photo by swimfinfan / Flickr