NFL Draft: Nothing More Than A Gamble? (Part Two)


Jan 13, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) before the AFC divisional round playoff game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Last time round, we took a look at some of the best offensive players in the NFL, and exactly where they were drafted when they entered the league. I wanted to see whether high round draft picks (players taken in the first couple of rounds) really turn out to be legitimate super stars in this league.

And, for the most part, this was the case. Aside form a couple of anomalies, all the quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers we looked at were all drafted pretty high. So, with that in mind, it’s fair to say that if you draft a player highly, they should turn out to be pretty good. There will always be busts and diamonds in the rough, but for the most part, it is fair to say that high round draft picks should be good.

Now, we’ve taken a look at the offensive side of things, but is it the same case on the defensive side of the ball? Let’s find out.

Below, we will list 5 of the current best players at their respective positions, and see where they were originally drafted.

Defensive linemen

  • J.J. Watt – round 1
  • Jared Allen – round 4
  • Justin Smith – round 1
  • Haloti Ngata – round 1
  • Jason Pierre-Paul – round 1

Okay, so there seems to be a bit of a trend, following on from the offensive players. Apart from Jared Allen, all these players were drafted in the first round, and they have indeed turned out to be some of the best defensive linemen in the game. Coincidence? Or really good scouting and decision making by the teams that drafted them?


  • Ray Lewis (only just retired, so still counts) – round 1
  • Von Miller – round 1
  • Brian Urlacher – round 1
  • Aldon Smith – round 1
  • DeMarcus Ware – round 1

Well, what can you say about that? A total clean sweep of round one picks. All this is starting to point to the NFL draft having nothing to do with gambling at all. If you do your homework, then the high draft picks should all be really great NFL players. Let’s move on to the cornerbacks.


  • Charles Tillman – round 2
  • Patrick Peterson – round 1
  • Tim Jennings – round 2
  • Champ Bailey – round 1
  • Johnathan Joseph – round 1

Okay, well it looks like we need to lay this to bed. All the evidence points to the best NFL players, whether offensive or defensive, being taken very early on in the draft. The scouts have got it right, and continue to predict which players will most successfully make the transition from the college level to the pro level.

It might be really interesting to look at some of the best all-time NFL players, and see where they were drafted. Would we see a similar pattern of high draft picks going on to lead the league at their postition?

As we head into this year’s draft, it looks like we can expect the players taken in the first two rounds to turn out to be some of the best players in the NFL. Let’s just hope they hold up their end of the bargain, and don’t make this writer look foolish!