A quick look at each of Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson's first-round NFL draft picks. (April 14, 2017) USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
Six years ago, the Green Bay Packers sat on top of the football world.
The Packers had just won Super Bowl XLV and the 13th championship in franchise history. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was 27 years old and outside linebacker Clay Matthews was just 24. The rest of the roster was packed with young talent and multiple Super Bowls certainly seemed like a distinct possibility.
“Every team has a different face to it,” Rodgers said one day after being named Super Bowl MVP. “Every year, different players, guys come and go, but I think the core, the nucleus of this team is intact to make runs like this for the next four or five years.”
The Packers have made their share of runs in the six years since. Each time, though, Green Bay has fallen short.
Green Bay reached the playoffs each year from 2011-’16, played in a pair of NFC Championship Games and won the NFC North five of the past six years. But the Packers haven’t been back to a Super Bowl.
Why? One major reason is Green Bay’s struggles in the first round of the NFL draft.
The Packers’ average position in the first round has been No. 27, the lowest in all of football. Picking so deep in the first round each year certainly makes it tougher to find difference-making players.
But in the last six years, Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson has struggled in the first round more than most — a major reason the Packers have failed to achieve greatness again.
Thompson missed badly on offensive tackle Derek Sherrod in 2011 and didn’t get much bang for his buck from 2013 first rounder Datone Jones. Cornerback Damarious Randall, Green Bay’s top pick in 2015, has been a disappointment to date, as well.
Thompson did well with 2014 safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and 2012 linebacker Nick Perry. The jury remains out on 2016 first rounder Kenny Clark, although early returns have been promising.
Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins — one of the top-10 wideouts in the NFL — was selected one pick after Jones in 2013. And Minnesota’s Harrison Smith — arguably the top safety — went one pick after Perry in 2012.
Had Thompson drafted either of those players — or found another Pro Bowler in the first round — perhaps the Packers would have captured another championship along the way. But that didn’t happen.
Packer Plus examines how the rest of the NFL has fared in the first round since 2011, and how Thompson’s top picks compare to the rest of the NFL:
2011 — Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn (Pick No. 13)
2012 — Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa (23)
2013 — Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU (5)
2014 — Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina (10)
2015 — Laken Tomlinson, G, Duke (28)
2016 — Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State (16)
Average draft position: 15.8
Analysis: Fairley and Reiff both played at a high level for the duration of their contracts, then left in free agency. Ansah is one of the top young ends and had 30 sacks his first three years, before injuries killed his 2016 campaign. Decker had a terrific rookie year and could start for a decade, Ebron has been a tease, while Tomlinson’s play has been up and down.
2011 — Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State (12)
2012 — Matt Kalil, OT, USC (4); Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame (29)
2013 — Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida (23); Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State (25); Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee (29)
2014 — Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA (9); Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville (32)
2015 — Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State (11)
2016 — Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss (23)
Average draft position: 19.7
Analysis: The Vikings hit home runs with Barr and Smith, who have both played in two Pro Bowls apiece. Rhodes also reached his first Pro Bowl in 2016 and is one of the top young corners. Finding quarterbacks and receivers has been problematic, though. Ponder flopped and a career-threatening injury to Bridgewater forced Minnesota to give up a first-round draft pick for Sam Bradford. Patterson never panned out as a wideout, while Treadwell had just one catch as a rookie.
GREEN BAY (C-)
2011 — Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State (32)
2012 — Nick Perry, LB, USC (28)
2013 — Datone Jones, DE, USC (26)
2014 — Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama (21)
2015 — Damarious Randall, S/CB, Arizona State (30)
2016 — Kenny Clark, NT, UCLA (27)
Average draft position: 27.3
Analysis: Clinton-Dix reached his first Pro Bowl in 2016, while Perry had a breakout season and signed a five-year, $59 million contract last month. Clark is just 21 years old and has big upside, but the rest of the group has either underperformed or completely flopped.
2011 — Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin (29)
2012 — Shea McClellin, DE, Boise State (19)
2013 — Kyle Long, OT, Oregon (20)
2014 — Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech (14)
2015 — Kevin White, WR, West Virginia (7)
2016 — Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia (9)
Average draft position: 16.3
Analysis: It’s been more bust than boom for the Bears. Carimi lasted just two seasons and McClellin made little impact during his four years. White has played just four games in two years due to injury and Fuller is a longshot to be on the team in 2017. Long was a terrific pick and has reached three Pro Bowls, while Floyd had a dynamite rookie year and seems headed to several Pro Bowls himself.
2011 — Tyron Smith, OT, USC (9)
2012 — Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU (6)
2013 — Travis Frederick, C, Wisconsin (31)
2014 — Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame (16)
2015 — Byron Jones, S, Connecticut (27)
2016 — Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (4)
Average draft position: 15.5
Analysis: Why did the Cowboys have the NFC’s best record in 2016? Their recent first-round draft picks are a huge reason why. Smith, Frederick and Martin have played in a combined 10 Pro Bowls and form 60% of the NFL’s best offensive line. Elliott led the NFL in rushing yards as a rookie (1,631) and finished third in rushing touchdowns (15). Jones, an athletic freak, is off to a terrific start. Claiborne’s career has been slowed by a bevy of injuries, then he signed as an unrestricted free agent with the New York Jets last month.
NEW YORK GIANTS (B-)
2011 — Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska (19)
2012 — David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech (32)
2013 — Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse (19)
2014 — Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU (12)
2015 — Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami (9)
2016 — Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State (10)
Average draft position: 16.8
Analysis: Beckham is one of the NFL’s top five receivers, Pugh is a standout guard and Apple could be a future star. A neck injury ruined Wilson’s career after just two seasons. Flowers was so-so as a rookie, but was brutal in 2016. Amukamara was mediocre for four years, then left in free agency after the 2015 season.
2011 — Danny Watkins, G, Baylor (21)
2012 — Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State (12)
2013 — Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma (4)
2014 — Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville (26)
2015 — Nelson Agholor, WR, USC (20)
2016 — Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State (2)
Average draft position: 14.2
Analysis: The Eagles appear to have hit it big with Wentz. If he turns into a top-10 quarterback — which seems quite possible after a big rookie season — the Eagles’ grade will jump up. Cox is a two-time Pro Bowler with 281/2 career sacks. Johnson’s career has been sidetracked by two suspensions for PEDs, while Smith and Agholor have been disappointments. Watkins, who went to Butte College like Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, was out of the league after just three seasons.
2011 — Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue (16)
2012 — Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor (2)
2013 — No pick
2014 — No pick
2015 — Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa (5)
2016 — Josh Doctson, WR, TCU (22)
Average draft position: 11.3
Analysis: Washington gave up three first-round draft picks and a No. 2 for the right to jump four spots in the 2012 draft and select Griffin III. Considering that trade will go down as one of the five worst in NFL history, it’s remarkable Washington has remained competitive. One reason is Kerrigan, who has reached three Pro Bowls. Scherff reached his first Pro Bowl in 2017, while Doctson had just two receptions as a rookie.
2011 — Julio Jones, WR, Alabama (6)
2012 — No pick
2013 — Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington (22)
2014 — Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M (6)
2015 — Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson (8)
2016 — Keanu Neal, SS, Florida (17)
Average draft position: 11.8
Analysis: The Falcons sent two first-round draft picks — and five picks in all — to Cleveland in 2011 for the No. 6 pick in that draft. Atlanta then selected Jones, who is arguably the NFL’s best receiver and a likely Hall of Famer. Without that trade, it’s unlikely the Falcons would have been in the Super Bowl last season. Beasley led the NFL with 151/2 sacks last year and was named first-team All-Pro. Trufant is the Falcons’ best cornerback, while Matthews is blossoming into an elite left tackle. Neal had an outstanding rookie season and brought an intimidating presence the Falcons’ defense had been lacking.
2011 — Cam Newton, QB, Alabama (1)
2012 — Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College (9)
2013 — Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah (14)
2014 — Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State (28)
2015 — Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington (25)
2016 — Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech (30)
Average draft position: 17.8
Analysis: Why did Carolina win the NFC in 2015? A huge reason was the Panthers’ first-round picks in 2011 and 2012. Newton won NFL MVP honors in 2015 and established himself as one of football’s top players. Kuechly was the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 and has been a four-time Pro Bowler. Benjamin was sensational as a rookie, tore his ACL in 2015, then was so-so in 2016. Lotulelei has failed to live up to his lofty draft status. Thompson has flashed terrific potential, while Butler had little impact during his rookie season.
NEW ORLEANS (B)
2011 — Cameron Jordan, DE, California (24); Mark Ingram Jr., RB, Alabama (28)
2012 — No pick
2013 — Kenny Vaccaro, SS, Texas (15)
2014 — Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State (20)
2015 — Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford (13); Stephone Anthony, LB, Clemson (31)
2016 — Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville (12)
Average draft position: 20.4
Analysis: The 2011 draft certainly worked out, as Jordan is a two-time Pro Bowler and Ingram has more than 4,000 career yards. Vaccaro has started from Day 1, while Cooks was recently traded to New England for the 32nd pick in this year’s draft. Peat has been inconsistent, while Anthony had a big rookie season, but struggled in 2016. Rankins was limited to nine games as a rookie due to injury, but was a difference maker when healthy.
TAMPA BAY (C+)
2011 — Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa (20)
2012 — Mark Barron, S, Alabama (7); Doug Martin, RB, Boise State (31)
2013 — No pick
2014 — Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M (7)
2015 — Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State (1)
2016 — Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida (11)
Average draft position: (12.8)
Analysis: The Buccaneers have had three top-10 picks in the last five years, and believe they hit on two of them. Evans is already one of the NFL’s top receivers, while Winston might have what it takes to eventually become a franchise quarterback. Barron didn’t pan out, was traded to St. Louis/Los Angeles, and signed an extension there last year. Martin has had a pair of 1,400-yard seasons, but three years when he’s rushed for fewer than 500 yards. Clayborn’s time in Tampa was marred by injury, then he left for Atlanta. Hargraeves had a rough rookie season.
ST. LOUIS/LA RAMS (B)
2011 — Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina (14)
2012 — Michael Brockers, DT, LSU (14)
2013 — Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia (8); Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia (30)
2014 — Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn (2); Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh (13)
2015 — Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia (10)
2016 — Jared Goff, QB, California (1)
Average draft position: 11.5
Analysis: Donald is perhaps the best defensive player in football, while Quinn is one of the top ends when healthy. Brockers is another high-level defensive lineman, while Ogletree is coming off an All-Pro season. Gurley is a physical freak, but struggled in 2016 due in part to shoddy offensive line play. Austin has been more dangerous in the return game or carrying the ball than catching it. Robinson was a bust at left tackle and will try saving his career on the right side this year. Goff wasn’t ready as a rookie and many are wondering if he ever will be. If Goff pans out, this grade jumps up a notch. If he flops, and the Rams’ endless search for a quarterback continues, the grade is lowered.
2011 — Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU (5)
2012 — Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame (13)
2013 — Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina (7)
2014 — Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State (27)
2015 — D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida (24)
2016 — Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss (29)
Average draft position: 17.5
Analysis: Peterson ranks among the NFL’s best corners, while Bucannon was moved to inside linebacker and has been a playmaker. Cooper never panned out and was traded before the 2016 season, while Floyd was released in 2016 following a DUI arrest. Humphries had a miserable rookie season, but bounced back well in 2016. Nkemdiche was invisible as a rookie and finished the year with just one tackle.
SAN FRANCISCO (D)
2011 — Aldon Smith, LB, Missouri (7)
2012 — A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois (30)
2013 — Eric Reid, FS, LSU (18)
2014 — Jimmie Ward, SS, NIU (30)
2015 — Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon (17)
2016 — DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon (7); Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford (28)
Average draft position: (19.6)
Analysis: Reid and Ward have been solid performers in the 49ers’ secondary. Armstead hasn’t had much of an impact yet, while Buckner had a strong rookie year and Garnett struggled. Jenkins never caught a pass in San Francisco, then was traded for pennies on the dollar. Smith was one of the NFL’s top defensive players his first two seasons, but substance abuse issues led to his release in August 2015.
2011 — James Carpenter, OG, Alabama (25)
2012 — Bruce Irvin, DE, West Virginia (15)
2013 — No pick
2014 — No pick
2015 — No pick
2016 — Germain Ifedi, G/T, Texas A&M (31)
Average draft position: 23.7
Analysis: Carpenter was a solid contributor before leaving in free agency in March 2015. Irvin also had a terrific four years in Seattle before exiting as a free agent in March 2016. The Seahawks gave up their first-round pick in 2013 for wideout Percy Harvin, their No. 1 in 2014 for second- and fourth-round picks, and their top pick in 2015 for tight end Jimmy Graham. Harvin flopped, Graham has slipped and Seattle seems to have missed on both of its 2014 picks. Ifedi was one of the NFL’s worst offensive linemen as a rookie.
NEW YORK JETS (B)
2011 — Muhammad Wilkerson, DL, Temple (30)
2012 — Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina (16)
2013 — Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama (9); Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri (13)
2014 — Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville (18)
2015 — Leonard Williams, DT, USC (6)
2016 — Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State (20)
Average draft position: 16.0
Analysis: Wilkerson has been outstanding and is one of the NFL’s best — and highest paid — defensive linemen today. Richardson was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 and a Pro Bowler the following year. The Jets also hit it big with Williams, who reached his first Pro Bowl in 2016. Pryor has been a solid player, while Lee got better throughout his rookie year. Milliner played just 18 games and is currently out of football. Coples was waived midway through his fourth season.
NEW ENGLAND (B)
2011 — Nate Solder, OT, Colorado (17)
2012 — Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse (21); Don't’a Hightower, LB, Alabama (25)
2013 — No pick
2014 — Dominique Easley, DT, Florida (29)
2015 — Malcom Brown, DT, Texas (32)
2016 — No pick
Average draft position: 24.8
Analysis: Solder has started 81 games, the majority at left tackle, and been a key cog in two Super Bowl champion teams. Jones had 36 sacks in four seasons, then was traded before the 2016 season began. Hightower reached his first Pro Bowl in 2016, then signed a four-year, $35.5 million contract in March. Easley was released after two seasons, but Brown has been a force inside in the Patriots’ defense. The Patriots sent their 2013 first rounder to Minnesota for four picks, and hit home runs with two of those (CB Logan Ryan and LB Jamie Collins). New England also was forced to surrender its 2016 No. 1 pick due to the Deflategate scandal.
2011 — Mike Pouncey, C, Florida (15)
2012 — Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M (8)
2013 — Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon (3)
2014 — Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee (19)
2015 — DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville (14)
2016 — Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi (13)
Average draft position: 12.0
Analysis: Pouncey is one of the elite centers, while Tannehill has thrown 106 touchdowns vs. 66 interceptions. But Tannehill has failed to take the step from good to great that the elite quarterbacks do by this stage of their careers. James has been a solid right tackle when healthy, while Parker caught 56 passes in his second season and is trending upward. Tunsil, who fell in the 2016 draft due to off-the-field issues, had a strong rookie season. Jordan was suspended multiple times for PED use, produced just three sacks in two seasons and is one of the Dolphins’ biggest busts of all-time.
2011 — Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama (3)
2012 — Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina (10)
2013 — E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State (16)
2014 — Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson (4)
2015 — No pick
2016 — Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson (19)
Average draft position: 10.4
Analysis: The Bills gave up a first-round draft pick in 2014, and first- and fourth-rounders in 2015, to jump up to No. 4 and take Watkins. In the three years since, Watkins has battled injury and failed to live up to his draft position. Manuel has been a complete bust, while Gilmore left for New England in free agency last month. Dareus is one of the top tackles, but Lawson had little to no impact as a rookie.
2011 — J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin (11)
2012 — Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois (26)
2013 — DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson (27)
2014 — Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (1)
2015 — Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest (16)
2016 — Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame (21)
Average draft position: 17.0
Analysis: The Texans appear have gone 5 of 6 in the first round since 2011. Watt is the NFL’s best defensive player, when healthy. Mercilus and Clowney are big-time talents, as well. Hopkins is one of the NFL’s top receivers, while Fuller shined as a rookie. Johnson has battled injuries, but still could become a player.
2011 — Jake Locker, QB, Washington (8)
2012 — Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor (20)
2013 — Chance Warmack, OL, Alabama (10)
2014 — Taylor Lewan, OL, Michigan (11)
2015 — Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (2)
2016 — Jack Conklin, OL, Michigan State (8)
Average draft position: 9.8
Analysis: The Titans bombed with Locker, but hit it big with Mariota. Lewan and Conklin have been terrific finds for one of the NFL’s best offensive lines. Warmack was solid, but left for Philadelphia in free agency last month. Wright shined early under former coach Mike Munchak, then was slowly phased out by coach Ken Whisenhunt.
2011 — Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College (22)
2012 — Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (1)
2013 — Bjorn Werner, OLB, Florida State (24)
2014 — No pick
2015 — Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami (29)
2016 — Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama (18)
Average draft position: 18.8
Analysis: Luck remains the most gifted quarterback drafted in the last five years and probably a Hall of Famer one day. Castonzo and Kelly were solid finds for the offensive line. Dorsett has been a disappointment and Werner lasted just three years and is now out of football. But the biggest mistake came in 2014, when the Colts sent a No. 1 draft choice to Cleveland for running back Trent Richardson.
2011 — Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri (10)
2012 — Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State (5)
2013 — Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M (2)
2014 — Blake Bortels, QB, Central Florida (3)
2015 — Dante Fowler Jr., DE, Florida (3)
2016 — Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State (5)
Average draft position: 4.7
Analysis: It’s almost impossible to be as bad at drafting as the Jaguars have been. Over the last six years, Jacksonville’s average pick has been in the top-five, and it appears to have botched five of those. Gabbert bombed and was gone in three years, forcing the Jaguars to select Bortels. But after a solid start, Bortels regressed badly in 2016 and is now at a crossroads in his career. Joeckel flopped and is in Seattle now, while Blackmon battled injuries and drug problems and was gone after two seasons. Fowler missed his rookie season with a torn ACL, then came off the bench last year. Ramsey had a solid rookie year, and looks like he’ll wind up the best of this sorry lot.
2011 — Cameron Hayward, DE, Ohio State (31)
2012 — David DeCastro, OG, Stanford (24)
2013 — Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia (17)
2014 — Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State (15)
2015 — Bud Dupree, LB, Kentucky (22)
2016 — Artie Burns, CB, Miami (25)
Average draft position: 22.3
Analysis: Shazier has had a terrific start and went to the Pro Bowl in 2016, while DeCastro is one of the NFL’s best guards. Hayward has been a solid starter for years now and Jones played well before leaving in free agency last month. Burns had a strong rookie year, while Dupree’s career is off to a slow start.
2011 — A.J. Green, WR, Georgia (4)
2012 — Dre Kirkpatrick, DB, Alabama (17); Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin (27)
2013 — Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame (21)
2014 — Darqueze Dennard, DB, Michigan State (24)
2015 — Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M (21)
2016 — William Jackson III, DB, Houston (24)
Average draft position: 19.7
Analysis: Green is one of the NFL’s top five wideouts, while Zeitler was sensational before leaving for Cleveland this offseason in free agency and becoming the NFL’s highest paid guard. Kirkpatrick is an above average starter at cornerback, while Eifert has been a force when healthy. Dennard has underperformed, while Ogbuehi is battling back from a torn rotator cuff. Jackson III tore a pectoral muscle in training camp and missed his entire rookie season.
2011 — Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado (27)
2012 — No pick
2013 — Matt Elam, S, Florida (32)
2014 — C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama (17)
2015 — Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida (26)
2016 — Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame (6)
Average draft position: 21.6
Analysis: Mosley has been the best of the bunch, reaching the Pro Bowl twice in his first three seasons. Smith has been a solid starter for most of his six seasons, while Stanley looks like a future star. An offseason arrest has ended Elam’s time in Baltimore and Perriman has just 33 catches in two years. The Ravens traded back in 2012 with Minnesota, the Vikings selected Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith, and the players Baltimore took didn’t come close to matching Smith’s production.
2011 — Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor (21)
2012 — Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama (3); Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State (22)
2013 — Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU (6)
2014 — Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State (8); Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M (22)
2015 — Danny Shelton, DT, Washington (12); Cameron Erving, C, Florida State (19)
2016 — Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor (15)
Average draft position: 14.2
Analysis: Richardson, Manziel and Weeden were all enormous busts and set the franchise back years. Mingo and Gilbert were both huge disappointments and each player was traded for a late draft pick. Taylor lasted four years, then was released. Coleman has the ability to become a No. 1 receiver, while Shelton and Erving could be solid pieces for years to come.
SAN DIEGO (A-)
2011 — Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois (18)
2012 — Melvin Ingram, OLB, South Carolina (18)
2013 — D.J. Fluker, OL, Alabama (11)
2014 — Jason Verrett, CB, TCU (25)
2015 — Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin (15)
2016 — Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State (3)
Average draft position: 15.0
Analysis: The Chargers have done extremely well finding defensive stalwarts. Verrett is a Pro Bowl cornerback, Ingram has 181/2 sacks in the last two seasons and Liuget is a high-level defensive tackle. The best defensive pick could very well be Bosa, too, who had a terrific rookie season after a lengthy holdout. Gordon had a big second season, while Fluker was a solid player who went to the New York Giants in free agency last month.
2011 — Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M (2)
2012 — No pick
2013 — Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina (28)
2014 — Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State (31)
2015 — Shane Ray, LB, Missouri (23)
2016 — Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis (26)
Average draft position: 22.0
Analysis: Miller has 731/2 sacks in six years and could be headed to the Hall of Fame one day. The Broncos made several trades back in 2012, and the best player they wound up with was serviceable defensive lineman Derek Wolfe. Williams was adequate before leaving in free agency, while Roby and Ray are both ascending players. The verdict remains out on Lynch.
KANSAS CITY (C+)
2011 — Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh (26)
2012 — Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis (11)
2013 — Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan (1)
2014 — Dee Ford, DE, Auburn (23)
2015 — Marcus Peters, CB, Washington (18)
2016 — No pick
Average draft position: 15.8
Analysis: Peters is one of the top young corners and reached the Pro Bowl each of his first two years. Poe was a two-time Pro Bowler, but left for Atlanta in free agency last month. Ford exploded in 2016 with 10 sacks, and the Chiefs got the better of San Francisco after trading their 2016 first-round pick for three later selections. Fisher will never play up to the level of the No. 1 pick in a draft, but he has become a serviceable starter. Baldwin was a bust who lasted just two years.
2011 — No pick
2012 — No pick
2013 — D.J. Hayden, DB, Houston (12)
2014 — Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo (5)
2015 — Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (4)
2016 — Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia (14)
Average draft position: 8.8
Analysis: Oakland traded its 2011 pick to New England for DE Richard Seymour and its 2012 pick to Cincinnati for QB Carson Palmer. Both moves blew up on the Raiders. Hayden underperformed and is now in Detroit, but the Raiders and general manager Reggie McKenzie have struck gold the last three years. Mack was the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year, while Cooper has 155 catches in his first two years. Joseph moved into the starting lineup midway through last season and had a big rookie year.
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