Ranking the 5 Teams That Dominated the NFL Draft Since 2000

Tyler Brooke@TylerDBrookeSenior Analyst IIApril 21, 2020

Ranking the 5 Teams That Dominated the NFL Draft Since 2000

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    GAIL BURTON/Associated Press

    An NFL's team culture is built through the draft, and over the past 20 years, a select few teams have found consistent success in developing young talent in-house.

    While drafting doesn't always lead to wins, the teams that draft elite talent early and find steals in the later rounds are the ones that more often than not find themselves in the postseason and making runs at the Super Bowl almost every year. Of course, there can be some exceptions to that rule.

    Determining the best teams at drafting since 2000 is bound to have some subjectivity, but measurable components like the numbers of players drafted who went on to be Pro Bowlers is a good place to start. Bonus points should understandably go to teams that drafted future MVPs and Hall of Famers, as well as franchise quarterbacks. Extra bonus points also go for winning seasons, postseason runs and, of course, Super Bowl rings.

    So, over the last 20 years of NFL drafts, let's take a look at the franchises whose front offices have been doing it the best.      


      

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5. Seattle Seahawks

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Pro Bowlers Drafted: 22

    MVPs: Shaun Alexander

    Hall of Famers: Steve Hutchinson

    Best Draft Class: 2010

    Over the course of the past couple of decades, the Seattle Seahawks have gone from an afterthought in the NFL to a franchise with one of the loudest fanbases in the league and some of the most complete rosters in modern NFL history thanks to an impressive stretch of elite draft talent.

    Although the Seahawks hit some home runs earlier this millennium with the likes of Shaun Alexander and Steve Hutchinson, the 2010, 2011 and 2012 drafts are what turned the franchise into a true powerhouse over the past seven years.

    In 2010, the Seahawks began forming the Legion of Boom, drafting Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas while also picking up Golden Tate and Russell Okung in the process. The next year, the LOB was complete with Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell being snagged in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively, while adding linebacker K.J. Wright. 

    The 2012 draft class officially solidified Seattle's roster, stealing future Hall of Fame quarterback Russell Wilson in the third round while also adding elite linebacker Bobby Wagner and strong defensive end Bruce Irvin.

    Those three draft classes ended up being the core players that led the Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, including the Super Bowl XLVIII blowout win over the Denver Broncos. Pete Carroll's defensive philosophy, along with some late-round steals in Chancellor, Sherman and Maxwell to form the secondary, made the Seahawks defense one of the most unstoppable forces in NFL history.

    Although the Seahawks haven't had nearly as much success in the draft over the past few seasons, that stretch earlier this decade is one of the best runs of drafting by a general manager in recent memory.

4. San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers

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    Kirby Lee/Getty Images

    Pro Bowlers Drafted: 23

    MVPs/Hall of Famers: LaDainian Tomlinson

    Best Draft Class: 2005

         

    Although the Chargers haven't been able to make a Super Bowl appearance over the last two decades, their track record of drafting elite talent since 2000 has been pretty impressive.

    The 2001 draft is particularly noticeable due to the team taking Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson and future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees. Although the duo didn't play together for long, the offensive fireworks were hard to ignore, and Tomlinson kicked off the post-Brees era in San Diego with an MVP season that ended with an absurd 31 total touchdowns and an MVP award.

    Despite a strong 2001 draft class, the Chargers' best since 2000 has to be the group they found in 2005, which included three-time Pro Bowler and Defensive Rookie of the Year Shawne Merriman, who was taken No. 12 overall. There were a couple of steals that helped revitalize the offense as well that year, taking Vincent Jackson in the second round and the electric running back Darren Sproles in the fourth.

    Even recently, the Chargers have made some solid draft picks, most notably a potential perennial All-Pro safety in Derwin James, whose versatility has been a much-needed asset for the defense. Meanwhile, the first two picks of 2016 in Joey Bosa and Hunter Henry have given Los Angeles quality starters on both sides of the ball.

    A consistent stretch of draft success hasn't led to deep postseason runs, but with a lot of young guys developing from recent drafts and a new quarterback on the way to replace Philip Rivers, this is a team that could start making some noise in the AFC West.

3. Green Bay Packers

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Pro Bowlers Drafted: 24

    MVPs: Aaron Rodgers (twice)

    Best Draft Class: 2009

    In the Ted Thompson era, the entire mentality for the Green Bay Packers was to draft and develop players in-house and focus on retaining those key contributors instead of going after big-name free agents. While that philosophy has started to shift under new general manager Brian Gutekunst, the track record of draft accomplishments over the past 20 years is the reason the franchise has had so much consistent success.

    The Packers started this millennium with a strong class in 2000 that included three Pro Bowlers in Bubba Franks, Chad Clifton and fifth-round pick Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. In 2005, the Packers didn't blink by taking one of the greatest quarterbacks ever in Aaron Rodgers, and then came right back with their second-round pick and took three-time Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins.

    Although there are a lot of good draft classes to choose from, the best since 2000 for the Packers is arguably the 2009 class, which included three key contributors to the Super Bowl XLV victory. Thompson hit on both of his first-round picks by taking dominant edge-rusher Clay Matthews along with disruptive defensive tackle B.J. Raji, who had a late pick-six in the NFC championship against Chicago to punch the Packers' ticket to the Super Bowl.

    Green Bay is still finding strong contributors early in the draft, with quality starters from 2019 like Davante Adams, Kenny Clark, Kevin King, Jaire Alexander and Elgton Jenkins being drafted in the first two rounds. Others like Aaron Jones and Corey Linsley have been strong Day 3 selections as well.

    It has only resulted in one Super Bowl over the last 20 years, but consistently finding quality players in the draft is a big reason why the Packers continue to fight for the top spot in the NFC North while making deep playoff runs. 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Pro Bowlers Drafted: 25

    MVPs: Patrick Mahomes

    Best Draft Class: 2008

         

    After two decades of drafting at a consistently high level, the Kansas City Chiefs were finally able to put it all together and win their first Lombardi Trophy since Super Bowl IV.

    That Super Bowl victory is credited in large part to the Chiefs taking a quarterback in the first round since Todd Blackledge in 1983, drafting Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 draft. Although he was the third quarterback taken in that draft, the Chiefs knew the potential Mahomes had, trading up to No. 10 overall to take the future MVP and Super Bowl MVP.

    Drafting top-tier talent isn't something the Chiefs stumbled into all of a sudden in 2017. Since 2003, the Chiefs have only had two drafts where players they selected didn't go on to be future Pro Bowlers—in 2018 and 2009.

    The 2008 class stands out as the franchise's most impressive in recent memory, despite the letdown that No. 5 overall pick Glenn Dorsey was. The Chiefs' next three picks in that draft went on to become Pro Bowl players in offensive tackle Branden Albert, cornerback Brandon Flowers and the electric running back Jamaal Charles, who will have his own place in Chiefs history as a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro.

    Some big free agents like Tyrann Mathieu and Frank Clark had an impact on the Super Bowl win this past season, but a long stretch of consistent drafts helped build the culture and core team of playmakers who helped Kansas City win it all.

1. Baltimore Ravens

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Pro Bowlers Drafted: 26

    MVPs: Lamar Jackson

    Hall of Famers: Ed Reed

    Best Draft Class: 2018

             

    When it comes to finding gems on draft day, no one has done a better job since 2000 than former general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Baltimore Ravens.

    Although Newsome stepped down after the 2018 season, the impact he had on the Ravens franchise will be remembered forever. As a front office executive, Newsome has been the part of two Super Bowl championships and helped build the foundation for another contender.

    The Ravens started this millennium by drafting some memorable players in the first round. From 2000 to 2003, Baltimore's first-round picks included Jamal Lewis, Todd Heap, Terrell Suggs and one of the greatest safeties to ever play the game in Hall of Famer Ed Reed. From 2005 to 2018, the franchise only had one draft (2010) where it failed to select a future Pro Bowl player. 

    Newsome's final draft in 2018 will arguably go down as his most memorable. With the final pick in the first round, the Ravens took a chance on quarterback Lamar Jackson, who proved predraft critics wrong this past season by taking the league by storm and becoming the league's MVP. The Ravens also landed a couple other Pro Bowl players in that draft's third round, snagging Orlando Brown Jr. and Mark Andrews.

    A lot of pressure is now on new general manager Eric DeCosta, who had a promising first draft this past season by finding future potential stars like wide receivers Marquise Brown and Myles Boykin. Living up to the success of Newsome in the draft will be hard, but if DeCosta can even come close, the Ravens could be hoisting another Lombardi Trophy sooner rather than later.

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