The Best (and Worst) Draft Pick in Each NFL Team’s History

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Now that the 2022 NFL Draft has concluded, football fans are brimming with anticipation. After all, their favorite team may have just selected a future superstar that could put them over the top in their quest for a Super Bowl. However, for every smart selection, there is always a draft bust.

While some teams have proven to be much better at finding talent in the draft than others, each team has drafted at least one player that turned out to be terrific – and at least one more that turned out to be a miss.

To determine the best and worst pick in each team’s history, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the careers of each player selected in the NFL Draft from 1970 to 2018, using data from Pro Football Reference. The best draft pick was determined to be the player that provided the most value relative to his draft position. The worst pick was determined to be the earliest draft pick that provided the least value to the team that drafted them. Only players who spent the majority of their careers with the team that drafted them were considered.

The best picks were often no-brainers. Players like Peyton Manning and Bruce Smith were top overall selections and lived up to their potential, each earning a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

Others, like Chicago Bears legend Richard Dent, were selected after hundreds of other players but managed to become Pro Bowlers, Super Bowl winners, and even Hall of Famers despite being overlooked in the draft.

Each of the worst picks were made in the first round, but these players struggled to live up to the expectations that come with being one of the first 32 selections. Almost none were able to secure a starting spot for more than a season, and most washed out of the NFL within a few years. 

Some draft busts failed to reach their potential because of injuries that derailed their careers before they could even get going. Others failed due to off-the-field issues, sometimes resulting in criminal charges. These are the most famous athletes that ended up in prison.