CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco has completed an exhaustive study of the last five NFL drafts, and in the process he has discovered that there’s quite the connection between drafting well and winning.
The survey took into consideration, among other factors, where teams selected; how many star players were acquired; booms and busts at the top of the draft; late-round gems; and how the players selected contributed to wins and losses.
The last two Super Bowl winners, Green Bay and New Orleans, finished first and second, respectively. Beyond that, the consistently competitive Colts ranked third, one spot ahead of the Jets, who are the only team that’s been to the NFL’s version of the Final Four each of the last two years.
Other fairly successful teams in the top 10: Atlanta, Baltimore, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and New England.
The Giants are the only team that’s won a Super Bowl in the last five years and didn’t crack the top 10. They finished 11th.
None of this is overly surprising. The good teams draft well and the bad ones don’t. The only exceptions or surprises, based on this study:
- Arizona finished 29th, but they took a young and exciting team to the Super Bowl just two years ago.
- Despite their infamously bad draft rep, the Lions came in 19th. Respectable. Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh saved the day.
- The Buccaneers finished in 10th, despite the fact the team’s only been to the playoffs once in the five-year study period.
What intrigues me the most, though, is that the Buffalo Bills finished dead last. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, but it tangibly reaffirms everyone’s belief that the team is poorly run. Here’s the CSN blurb on Buffalo:
Especially considering where the Bills have selected these five years, their drafts have been dreadful. They made a huge error in 2009, selecting [Aaron] Maybin two spots ahead of pass rusher Brian Orakpo. Maybin has yet to record a sack in 26 career games. The Bills took Marshawn Lynch at No. 12 in 2007, but traded him for two late-round selections after taking another running back, C.J. Spiller, who might not even be an every-down back, at No. 9 overall last year. The Bills have gotten nothing from defensive tackle John McCargo, the 26th pick in the 2006 draft. Receiver James Hardy, selected No. 41 overall in 2008, caught 10 passes in two years and was released. Byrd made a nice impact as a rookie with nine interceptions, but managed just one in his second season.
Now, the stone-cold statistics tell a slightly different story. Eight current starters have come from the last five drafts (more than 11 other teams) and 23 of their 43 picks remain on the roster (a percentage that’s higher than 12 other teams). But what kills the Bills is that they’ve gotten so little from guys like Maybin, Lynch, Spiller and Byrd. They haven’t really hit a home run with an early pick since they chose Nate Clements 21st overall back in 2001.