Anytime you enter the draft conventional wisdom suggests that the lower the draft pick is, the lower the chance the player you pick will turn out to be a hit. That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been some crazy success stories later in the draft in the recent past.
To illustrate those examples, as well as the best-case scenario for what the top picks can offer, This Given Sunday presents you with the top 10 picks from each round over the last 10 years of drafting. Each round will be revisited over the last 10 years, 1 through 7, to identify which 10 players were the best from each.
1. QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers (24th pick by the Packers in 2005) – He’s won a Super Bowl, been the Super Bowl MVP, the NFL MVP, and he’s been to the Pro Bowl three times. His career got started later than most as he backed up Brett Favre for three seasons, but the minute he took over he was a superstar.
2. WR Calvin Johnson, Lions (2nd pick by the Lions in 2007) – By the time he’s done “Megatron” may be viewed as the best ever at his position. He’s been to 4 Pro Bowls and has led the league in receiving yards twice. He also holds the record for most receiving yards ever in one season.
3. WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (3rd pick by the Cardinals in 2004) – He’s been to the Pro Bowl 8 times and was pretty much Megatron before Megatron existed. Scary to think how much better he could have been with an elite quarterback.
4. DE DeMarcus Ware, Broncos (11th pick by the Cowboys in 2005) – He’s 18th all time in sacks and is one of only 30 players ever to reach the 100 sacks club. He’s led the league in sacks twice and he’s been to 7 Pro Bowls.
5. RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings (7th pick by the Vikings in 2007) – He’s led the league in rushing twice, he’s been to the Pro Bowl 6 times and he’s been the league MVP.
6. T Joe Thomas, Browns (3rd pick by the Browns in 2007) – Unbelievably he’s been to the Pro Bowl in all 7 seasons he’s been in the league.
7. G Logan Mankins, Patriots (32nd pick by the Patriots in 2005) – He’s been to 6 Pro Bowls and remains one of the elite interior linemen in the league each season.
8. DE J. J. Watt, Texans (11th pick by the Texans in 2011) – He’s only been to 2 Pro Bowls so far but he’s already clearly shown he’ll be one of the best ever if he can play a long career. Few players have ever been so utterly dominant at every facet of their game like Watt.
9. CB Patrick Peterson, Cardinals (5th pick by the Cardinals in 2011) – He’s been to 3 Pro Bowls in 3 seasons and he’s already vaulted himself into the cream of the crop not only at corner, but also as a kick returner. He’s even seen some time and made plays on offense, the Cardinals just try to get him in the game whenever possible. One of the most gifted all around players the game has ever seen.
10. CB Darrelle Revis, Patriots (14th pick by the Jets in 2007) – One of the best corners to ever play the game. He’s been to 5 Pro Bowls and he’s been successful on two different teams (the Patriots will be his third). Widely viewed by many as the best at his position.