How do you define draft success? That is one of the challenges when trying to determine which teams are the most successful at finding talent.
You could look at the number of starters produced, but that might simply depend on the relative weakness of a position on a particular roster. You could also look at Pro Bowls, but we all know that’s a flawed measuring stick.
The best measuring stick is wins, because that’s the goal for every general manager and the standard by which they are judged. There’s a lot that goes into building a team and winning games, but the most important tool at a team’s disposal is the draft. The only way to have prolonged success in the NFL is by drafting well.
You can judge how well a team drafts simply based on their win percentage over time. The best drafting teams win because they do a better job of finding good players. Those players could be stars, starters or role players, though, because each NFL team needs all of these types in order to be successful.
To make the rankings as fair as possible, I examined the tenure of each NFL general manager, their win total during said tenure (five years maximum) and the win total of each team over the past five years. The rankings were optimized to value success as measured by wins, giving equal weight to the team’s overall win total and their success only under their current leadership.
Why only five years? First-round picks are under their respective team’s control for five years after they are selected, and the average general manager in the NFL has been on the job for 4.6 years. You could argue that five years is too long, but since some draft picks take a few years to develop, it’s only fair to give them ample time.
So, how does your team stack up?