NFL Draft: Nothing More Than A Gamble?


Jan 12, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) against the Baltimore Ravens during the AFC divisional round playoff game at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When the NFL draft rolls around at the end of April, we will find out where these new batch of future NFL players will end up. Who will be the number one pick? Who will go in the first couple of rounds, and whose stock will fall, leaving them wondering whether they will even be drafted at all?

But does a high round draft pick guarantee success for an NFL team? So much analysis goes into the draft, with experts and team scouts pouring over game tapes, trying to get an edge on who should be chosen where. Throughout the years, we have seen several draft busts – players chosen very early on, who unfortunately don’t end up being as good as people thought.

And equally, we see players chosen much later on that develop into NFL superstars. With all that being said, let’s take a look at some of the best offensive players in the league, and see where they were drafted. Is it the case that the best players were all high round draft picks?

Just to say that the lists below might not reflect everyone’s opinion on who are the best current players at their positions, but I am sure we can all agree that they are definitely five of the best at their respective position. So, let’s go.



  • Aaron Rodgers – round 1
  • Drew Brees – round 2
  • Tom Brady – round 6
  • Peyton Manning – round 1
  • Cam Newton – round 1

Well, apart from Tom Brady letting the side down, being almost forgotten in the 2000 draft, we can see that these five quarterbacks were all taken very early on. It gives us an average draft round position of 2.2, which is pretty good going. Obviously, none of these players were busts, and the scouts must have done a good job. Bare in mind that Tom Brady does lend some validity to the argument that you can find a diamond amongst the rough. You can never really predict how good a player will eventually become.



  • Adrian Peterson – round 1
  • Arian Foster –  undrafted
  • Ray Rice – round 2
  • Marshawn Lynch – round 1
  • Doug Martin – round 1

Again, it looks like these players were well scouted, and have definitely proved to be the type of rushers that their teams hoped they would be, after using high draft picks to get them. But again, as with the quarterbacks, we have an anomaly. Arian Foster is one of the league’s best running backs, but in 2009, no one wanted to use a draft pick on him. Some say a lot of this was down to ‘ball security’ amongst other things, and I am sure the Houston Texans are happy they eventually picked him up. Just another example of one that slipped through the net.



  • Calvin Johnson – round 1
  • Brandon Marshall – round 4
  • Dez Bryant – round 1
  • Andre Johnson – round 1
  • Roddy White – round 1

Yet again, apart from Brandon Marshall, all these receivers were taken in the first round, giving their respective teams an elite player, and showing that they were right to be taken so early on.

Now, this list is not as extensive as it could be. Perhaps if we looked at the top 10 best players at each position, we might see a different story. But these five players in each category are all excellent NFL players, and apart from a couple of them, they have been excellent players for a number of years.

So, what does all this mean for this year’s draft prospects. It means that teams can expect to have confidence when taking a player with their first couple of picks. These players should make a big impact, and live up to their high billing. We saw that last year with RG3 and Andrew Luck. The scouting reports on these players were spot on, and they certainly did not disappoint.

What teams are all looking for however, is that rare find – a bona fide superstar that you can pick up in the third round or later. Even though you don’t have to pay first round draft picks as much as you used to, teams don’t really want their number one pick turning out to be an average Joe. They want quality across the board, and this does, on the face of it, seem to be more of a science than I thought it was.

Be sure to check out my post on Thursday, where I will be looking at the defensive side of things, and seeing whether the best players at those positions were taken early on, like their offensive counterparts.