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NFL Draft 2011: Ranking Each Team's Draft Success Over the Last Five Years

Michael CahillCorrespondent IOctober 24, 2016

NFL Draft 2011: Ranking Each Team's Draft Success Over the Last Five Years

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The 2011 NFL Draft is around the corner and teams are analyzing every piece of relevant data they have about the hopeful men who plan to play on Sundays.

    A bad draft class doesn’t just spell doom for 2011, but beyond. It can take years to see the value of a draft class and if they aren’t up to snuff, it could take years more to fix the holes that were left by picking the wrong guys.

    So who has done well at the NFL draft in the last five years? To put this ranking together there was much consultation of Pro-Football-Reference.com for a look at their draft classes of the last five years.

    We factored in the career averages of all the draft choices from the first three rounds as well as any other relevant later round picks.

    Note: the determination was made that later-round picks, while holding weight, would not factor in quite as much as the early-round picks which teams take the most time to plan for. But all picks were counted and weighed to some degree.

    Of course, just looking a stat sheet wasn’t good enough. They had to pass the eye test. Some teams have been good, but it’s had more to do with classes before 2006 and players in free agency.

    Taking all this into account, here is a ranking of each team's success in the draft.

    Note: Notable hits and misses do not include every draft pick. It's simply a sample to give indication of a teams success or misstep.  

32. New York Giants

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    WR Hakeem Nicks, WR Steve Smith

    Notable Misses:

    LB Clint Sintim

    Breakdown:

    Most of the players who have been central to the Giants success were drafted prior to 2006, or they have been added since. The Giants have done a lackluster job of drafting.

    Their skill position players have been okay, but nothing they couldn’t part with. If the Giants hope to compete for the next few years, they are going to have to start drafting better. 

31. Dallas Cowboys

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    Scott Boehm/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    WR Dez Bryant, RB Tashard Choice

    Notable Misses:

    LB Bobby Carpenter, LB Jason Williams

    Breakdown:

    The Cowboys have really struggled in the draft. In many cases the Cowboys' keys to success have been through free agency. 2008 was their best draft, but while it got them Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, it’s failed to get them that big player they could use.

    It’s a far cry from the great drafts the Cowboys used to manage in the early 90’s. It’s just another reason to question how good of a football man Jerry Jones is. 

30. Arizona Cardinals

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    G Levi Brown, WR Steve Breaston, CB Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie

    Notable Misses:

    QB Matt Leinart, LB Cody Brown, DT Allen Branch

    Break Down:

    What’s most disturbing about the Cardinals team is how many players they have drafted since 2006 who never spent a year as their primary starter.

    While it’s not realistic to assume that everyone is going to start, it is realistic to assume that you can get a guy who can start for you at some point or another.

    While we must be certain that getting one franchise player can make a draft class worth it, the Cardinals failed to do that as well.

    Again, they have not always done horribly in the draft, but the truth is that they have been underwhelming in recent memory. 

29. Miami Dolphins

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    T Jake Long

    Notable Misses:

    QB Chad Henne, QB John Beck

    Breakdown:

    The Dolphins have been treading water in the NFL the past five seasons. The most success they’ve had was more due to the offense they were using rather than the personnel they had.

    They’ve relied on veterans like Ricky Williams, Ronnie Brown and Jason Taylor to keep them afloat.

    They could be in for a very long road back to a playoff contender when you take a look at their draft for the last five years. There is no one of real substance here.

    There is a laundry list of underachievers, and the Dolphins will have to spend or draft better to get better. 

28. St. Louis Rams

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    QB Sam Bradford

    Notable Misses:

    DE Adam Carriker, RB Brian Leonard

    Breakdown:

    If you look at the Rams over the last five years, you’ll see an interesting trend. The Rams have drafted better in the last couple of years. Of course, this happens to coincide with their recent turnaround.

    They made no better move than when they drafted Sam Bradford last season. There were questions about his durability, but he’s held up extremely well and is proving to be the kind of guy you hitch your wagon to. 

27. Detroit Lions

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    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    WR Calvin Johnson, DT Ndamukong Suh

    Notable Misses:

    LB Jordan Dizon

    Breakdown:

    If you can believe it, the Lions have actually drafted well over the last five years. Not well enough to be in the elite, but they have managed to grab themselves a franchise defensive lineman, wide receiver, and if Matthew Stafford can stay healthy, maybe a elite QB someday.

    The problem for the Lions has been rebuilding all the damage that Matt Millen had done. They are going to need to work, but they have certainly put the pieces in place. 

26. Buffalo Bills

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    DB Donnie Whitner

    Notable Misses:

    DB Leodis McKelvin

    Breakdown:

    The best draft pick, in terms of talent over the last five years, has been Marshawn Lynch. Too bad for Buffalo that he never panned out the way he hoped. CJ Spiller could end up being better, but only time will tell.

    The Bills, when you look at their draft, give you a reason why they’ve had trouble being relevant in the AFC East.

    Their 2006 and 2007 drafts were decent, but the last three years they’ve failed to produce anything resembling top-level talent beyond CJ Spiller. 

25. Oakland Raiders

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    TE Zach Miller, DB Michael Huff

    Notable Misses:

    QB JaMarcus Russell

    Breakdown:

    2010 marked a new era for the Raiders. It was the first time they seemed to draft with their head and not with their heart.

    No team in the last five years has seemed to be so easily distracted by the flash of a player as opposed to the substance of him.

    On the other hand, the Raiders have managed to draft some pretty good pieces. The reason no one notices is because their failures have been so much worse than their successes have been good.

24. Cleveland Browns

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    T Joe Thomas

    Notable Misses:

    QB Brady Quinn

    Breakdown:

    The problem with the Browns has been their draft to a large degree. Beyond Joe Thomas, they have yet to draft a real top talent. It explains why Thomas has been to four Pro Bowls, while the rest of the draft picks in five years have been to one.

    While most other teams have managed to find steals in the later rounds, the Browns can’t seem to find any. 

23. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    DB Leon Hall

    Notable Misses:

    T Andre Smith

    Breakdown:

    If you are looking for a reason for the irrelevance of the Bengals over the last five years, their draft should help to point you in the right direction. Their 2006 class brought in some decent talent, but everything after that has been a bit of a disappointment.

    Not one player the Bengals have drafted in the last five years has made a Pro Bowl. They have added very little production on either side of the ball. It’s a tragically bad job by the Bengals front office in the last half-decade.

22. New England Patriots

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    CB Devin McCourty, LB Jerod Mayo

    Notable Misses:

    DB Terrance Wheatley

    Breakdown:

    This is going to go against the grain of the Patriots fans, but it’s hard to find a reason to believe they have drafted well over the last five years. 

    They have had a slew of draft picks and, beyond this year, most of the results have been underwhelming.

    It’s true that the Patriots have a system which is more important then their individual talent, so if the case is made that their talent helps them win, then perhaps they should be ranked higher.

    But if this based on the talent and the payoff, the Patriots have been underwhelming for much of the last five years. 

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    QB Josh Freeman

    Notable Misses:

    DE Gaines Adams

    Breakdown:

    The Buccaneers were experiencing some very lean years in Tampa Bay but, as evidenced by the drafts the last couple of years, things are looking up for them.

    Energized by a young head coach and a young quarterback, the Bucs will challenge again.

    In the last five years, they have had some very poor draft classes, but it looks like those days are long behind them. 

20. Tennessee Titans

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    RB Chris Johnson, QB Vince Young

    Notable Misses:

    RB LenDale White, DE Jason Jones

    Breakdown:

    Aside from Chris Johnson and Kenny Britt, the Titans' draft classes have been rather underwhelming. They did manage to take Vince Young, but whether that worked out is a matter of perspective.

    The Titans have stumbled a bit in the last couple of years and are in need of new blood. They will need better draft classes than they have been getting to do that. 

19. Washington Redskins

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    DB LaRon Landry

    Notable Misses:

    WR Devin Thomas

    Breakdown:

    It’s hard to grade their draft class when they have barely drafted anyone in the last five years. They often end up trading picks for players, so it skews the perception of how they draft, but wins don’t.

    The Redskins have struggled to be a good team, in large part because Daniel Snyder has been too busy trying to go the Yankee way of buying himself a winner.

    So the Redskins biggest problem isn’t the way they draft, it’s that they don’t draft enough. 

18. Denver Broncos

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    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    T Ryan Clady, QB Jay Cutler, WR Brandon Marshall

    Notable Misses:

    DE Jarvis Moss, DE Robert Ayers

    Breakdown:

    The Broncos have drafted underwhelming classes for the last five years. Their best pick, Jay Cutler, was traded away.  

    They did manage to get themselves Brandon Marshall in the fourth round, but he’s been a headache and has also been traded.

    The Broncos haven’t had a pick in the top 10 over the last five years, so it will be interesting to see where they go with their pick. The truth is they need a win in the 2011 draft.

17. Indianapolis Colts

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    RB Joseph Addai, WR Anthony Gonzalez

    Notable Misses:

    DT Fili Moala

    Breakdown:

    The Colts have been living, breathing, and dying with Peyton Manning. He’s brought them a lot of success and so it’s rare when the Colts have a decent first-round pick.

    They are great in the lower rounds, which is where they have discovered such gems like Pierre Garcon.

    The Colts have been as crafty as any team in the NFL, and you have to when you have nothing to pick with. 

16. Seattle Seahawks

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    T Russell Okung

    Notable Misses:

    LB Aaron Curry

    Breakdown:

    There is a way to break all of this down into a nice and neat mathematical equation, but at some point it has to pass the sight test.

    Looking back on the last five years in Seattle, they have very little to show for it. There is no one that has impressed anyone, especially in the first three rounds.

    This isn’t say that the 2010 draft class won’t pan out. Hopefully new personnel in the front office and the coaching staff will have made the difference, because they desperately need to get their club team back on track.

15. Chicago Bears

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    TE Greg Olsen, WR/KR Devin Hester, RB Matt Forte

    Notable Misses:

    OT Chris Williams, DT Jarron Gilbert

    Breakdown:

    The Bears have been widely criticized for their picks in the last five years, but truthfully they haven’t been that bad.

    Where the Bears have failed is when it comes to drafting first-round talent (when they have a first round pick) and they rarely address needs at skill positions.

    However, where the Bears have managed to make hay is by drafting in the middle rounds. Many of the pieces on their current team were free agents or middle-round picks they made. The Bears have been respectable, but not tremendous. 

14. Carolina Panthers

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    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    LB Jon Beason, RB DeAngelo Williams, C Ryan Kahlil

    Notable Misses:

    QB Jimmy Clausen, DE Everette Brown

    Breakdown:

    The Panthers are case in point on how a draft can hurt a team...that, and a significant decline at the quarterback spot.

    The Panthers, when they were winning, they were also drafting well. They drafted Jon Beason and DeAngelo Williams in the 2006 and 2007 drafts.

    Since the 2007 draft they have failed to draft a single Pro Bowler and they have yet to draft a quarterback for their QB problems.

    With the first pick in the draft, this year the Panthers need to get back on track. 

13. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    RB Maurice Jones-Drew, TE Mercedes Lewis

    Notable Misses:

    T Eben Britton

    Breakdown:

    Truthfully, the Jaguars haven’t been a bad team when it comes to the NFL draft. They happen to get good value for plenty of their players.

    However, the issue has been the last few years, they have failed to make a real splash.

    Their best pick was Maurice Jones-Drew in the second round, but they haven’t found nearly that value in subsequent drafts and many of their lower round picks have turned out poorly.

    If you factor out the draft that got them MJD, they wouldn’t be anywhere near the best. They have lacked consistency in their value. 

12. San Diego Chargers

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    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    T Marcus McNeill, CB Antonio Cromartie

    Notable Misses:

    LB Larry English

    Breakdown:

    The Chargers haven’t been as good as you might think in the last five years. What was often one of the strongest drafting teams, the Chargers haven’t had a really good draft class since their 2006 class.

    While they never have top-tier talent to choose from in the later rounds, it’s no excuse when teams like the Eagles and the Steelers seem to do it with ease.

11. San Francisco 49ers

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    LB Patrick Willis

    Notable Misses:

    DT Kentwan Balmer

    Breakdown:

    If the 49ers are going to rebuild with Jim Harbaugh, they won’t have as far to go as some of their counterparts in Carolina and Detroit.

    The 49ers have had some good draft classes in 2006 and 2007. Now they need to find a way to get back to that place.

    If they can draft in the next five years, the way they have drafted in the last five they should be a competitor in the NFC. 

10. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    WR DeSean Jackson, WR Jeremy Maclin, RB LeSean McCoy

    Notable Misses:

    DT Trevor Laws

    Breakdown:

    The Eagles have stockpiled picks over the last five years and they have made good on them. Their biggest acquisition was Michael Vick on the free agent market, but what they have done was put the pieces in place for him to succeed.

    They have managed to draft great skill position players and it’s put a second wind into the Eagles franchise. 

9. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Tim Umphrey/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    DT Glenn Dorsey, RB Jamaal Charles

    Notable Misses:

    QB Brodie Croyle

    Breakdown:

    The Chiefs have found themselves with very good draft classes in the last five years. What they seemed to be lacking in the last few years was a good coach and a good quarterback to put it all together.

    It’s not easy to qualify their draft class in terms of the overall scope, but in each of their drafts they have managed to acquire some piece of the puzzle they didn’t have before.

    It’s the players they have drafted that have accounted for their success as much as anything. 

8. New Orleans Saints

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    WR Robert Meachum, RB Reggie Bush

    Notable Misses:

    DB Usama Young

    Breakdown:

    The Saints haven’t always had a ton of picks in the draft the last few years, but they have seemed to make good with the picks they do have.

    They have managed to build much of their team around these players. Tracy Porter, Reggie Bush, and Malcolm Jenkins have been huge factors in the Saints' success. Yes, you can make the argument that Bush is a bust, or that he is over rated, but he was incredibly important to the Saints offense. He's only disappointing for where he was picked in the draft, but he's been a good player for the Saints.

    The key for the Saints will be to continue that success. They know good drafting can keep a team strong for a decade. So here’s hoping they do their homework. 

7. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    WR Santonio Holmes, WR Mike Wallace

    Notable Misses:

    WR Willie Reid

    Breakdown:

    The Steelers haven’t just been one of the most successful franchises over the past decade, they have also been one of the most respected and admired.

    They have figured out a way to draft well even when they have lacked a top 10 pick for quite some time.

    What the Steelers do well is draft the right kind of guy for their team. Very few players they draft blow anyone away, but they all make a solid contribution.

6. Houston Texans

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    DE Mario Williams, LB DeMeco Ryans, LB Bryan Cushing

    Notable Misses:

    DE Connor Barwin

    Breakdown:

    The key to the Texans' ability to draft is that they always seem to get value in the first couple of rounds. They have a history of drafting well in the top talent rounds.

    On the defensive side of the ball, they have had their picks contribute to 82 sacks.

    Their biggest issue as a team is that they never draft the right guy for need, but they always manage to come up with good talent.

    It’s part of the reason they are favored to make the playoffs every year, even though they always miss.

5. Minnesota Vikings

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    RB Adrian Peterson, WR Percy Harvin

    Notable Misses:

    QB Tarvaris Jackson

    Breakdown:

    The Vikings have had a good five years. They have managed to use their core of veteran players on the line and draft skill position players to put around them.

    The one thing that the Vikings would have liked to do right is to get a quarterback but it just wasn’t in the cards.

    The real question is if the Vikings have drafted enough depth to deal with the loss of veterans as the years go on.

    They have the best running back in the game. If they can find the right quarterback, and the defensive line can stay healthy, then they could be a team to beat. 

4. Baltimore Ravens

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    QB Joe Flacco, RB Ray Rice, OT Michael Oher

    Notable Misses:

    DE Paul Kruger, WR Yamon Figurs

    Breakdown:

    There’s a reason why the Ravens have been relevant the last few years. They’ve done a stellar job in the past few drafts. There was no better draft for them than the 2008 draft where they got Ray Rice and Joe Flacco.

    The Ravens, though, have made their best work on the offensive and defensive lines. They’ve drafted Michael Oher and Ben Grubbs on their line and Haloti Ngata on the defensive side all the way back in 2006. They’ve gotten value and depth in their early rounds. 

3. Green Bay Packers

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    LB Clay Matthews, TE Jermichael Finley

    Notable Misses:

    DB Patrick Lee

    Breakdown:

    Again, the Packers have been good for the last few years and it’s no surprise. They have had one of the best draft classes in the NFL.

    They have drafted franchise players at the tight end and linebacker spots. They have a deep class too. They’ve been able to build their team from within and they haven’t had to go out and bring in top-level talent, either. 

2. Atlanta Falcons

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    QB Matt Ryan, LB Curtis Lofton, RB Jerious Norwood

    Notable Misses:

    DT Peria Jerry, DB Chevis Jackson, WR Laurent Robinson

    Break Down:

    The Falcons have managed to do a very good job over the last five years of drafting with value. They hit a home run when they took Matt Ryan second.

    They also drafted Jason Snelling out of the seventh round and he’s proven to be a boon to their team. 

1. New York Jets

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Notable Hits:

    CB Darrelle Revis, C Nick Mangold

    Notable Misses:

    LB Anthony Schlegel, Vernon Gholston

    Breakdown:

    The Jets haven’t had many picks in the last five years, but no team in the NFL has made more with less. Look, this is no fluke. Teams who draft well for several years eventually get better.

    Part of it is Rex Ryan, but the other part is that they have found help on the offensive line, the secondary and a quarterback they like as their starter.

    The Jets have just fallen short of heading to the Super Bowl the last couple of years but make no mistake, if they keep drafting this way, something will go right for them. 

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