These NFL Drafts that have marked the last decade

The NFL Draft is a pivotal moment of the year. Between adjustments and new cycles, it is essential for all franchises. Some franchises have particularly shone in the Draft over the past decade, sometimes completely changing their status. Zoom on the ten best drafts of the decade that has just passed.

1 – Seattle Seahawks, Draft 2010, 2011 & 2012:

2010, Notable Picks: OT Russell Okung (Pick 6), S Earl Thomas (Pick 14), WR Golden Tate (Pick 60), S Kam Chancellor (Pick 133)

2011, Notable Picks: LB KJ Wright (Pick 99), CB Richard Sherman (Pick 154), CB Byron Maxwell (Pick 173)

2012, Notable Choices: DE Bruce Irvin (Pick 15), LB Bobby Wagner (Pick 47), QB Russell Wilson (Pick 75)

Impossible to dissociate these three years. In three years, Seattle has built almost exclusively through the draft one of the most dominant teams of the decade. There is everything in these draft classes. Defensive leaders (Wagner, Wright), a franchise quarterback (Wilson), a lineman and a receiver to surround him (Okung, Tate) and above all the most dominant defensive back of the XXIe century, the Legion of Boom (Thomas, Chancellor, Sherman, Maxwell). Many of these players will be Pro Bowlers or even All Pros and will have allowed Seattle to climb the slope. Prior to those drafts, the Seahawks were 5-11. In 2013, Seattle finished 1er of its Conference and then won the Superbowl XLVIII. A construction model for all franchises in the league with many players selected in the middle of the draft.

2 – New Orleans Saints, Draft 2017:

Notable Picks: CB Marshon Lattimore (Pick 11), OT Ryan Ramczyk (Pick 32), S Marcus Williams (Pick 42), RB Alvin Kamara (Pick 67), LB Alex Anzalone (Pick 76)

This one is recent, but is surely the one with the least false note. Before this draft, New Orleans has just completed four seasons with a record of 7-9 in five years. 2017 is the hour of redemption. With their first five selections, the Saints are drafting five impact players. Lattimore stands out as the cornerback number 1 of the team, Ramczyk as the starting right tackle and Williams takes place as strong safety. Add to that an Alvin Kamara forming a two-headed monster with Mark Ingram and a solid Alex Anzalone in the rotation and you have five impact players. The effect was immediate and the Saints won their division, while Marshon Lattimore and Alvin Kamara won the rookie of the year titles. If the Saints are among the most complete teams today, it is largely due to this 2017 class.

3 – Dallas Cowboys, Draft 2016:

Notable Picks: RB Ezekiel Elliott (Pick 4), LB Jaylon Smith (Pick 34), DT Maliek Colins (Pick 67), QB Dak Prescott (Pick 135), CB Anthony Brown (Pick 189)

On the outskirts of the 2016 Draft, Dallas comes out of the 2e worst season in its history with a 4-12 record. Tony Romo has just retired and we need new impact players in attack and defense. That’s good, the Cowboys will recover three leaders in a single Draft! Ezekiel Elliott arrives first and will establish himself as the leader of the attack. Jaylon Smith follows him in the next round and comes to establish himself as a key player in the middle of the defense. Finally, the high point of this evening, the franchise is recruiting its quarterback of the future in 4e round by drafting Dak Prescott. The effects of these recruitments were felt the following season: Dak Prescott was rookie of the year and the franchise finished No. 1 in the NFC. A new start for the franchise with these young stars.

4 – Indianapolis Colts, Draft 2012:

Notable Picks: QB Andrew Luck (Pick 1), TE Coby Fleener (Pick 34), TE Dwayne Allen (Pick 64), WR TY Hilton (Pick 92)

Perhaps the most impressive rebound in this ranking. In 2011, Indianapolis finished last in the league with a dismal 2-14 record. Injured in the neck that year, Peyton Manning leaves the franchise and leaves a hole in the most important position. The Colts will then get up in a flash thanks to the 2012 Draft. With the 1er choice, the franchise recruits Andrew Luck who immediately establishes himself as the worthy successor to Manning. This draft also brings him a future No. 1 receiver, TY Hilton, as well as two safety valves (Fleener and Allen). The franchise won nine more victories the following season and began a new cycle that would see the Colts reach the AFC Conference Finals two years later.

5 – Cincinnati Bengals, Draft 2011 & 2012:

2011, Notable Picks: WR AJ Green (Pick 4), QB Andy Dalton (Pick 35)

2012, Notable Choices: CB Dr Kirkpatrick (Pick 17), OG Kevin Zeitler (Pick 27), WR Mohamed Sanu (Pick 83), WR Marvin Jones (Pick 166), S George Iloka (Pick 167)

These two Bengals drafts are not the most impressive, but rarely has a franchise recovered so many starters in just two years. In 2011, the franchise drafted two players who would become offensive stars for the coming decade: Andy Dalton and AJ Green. The following year, many complements are added to form a solid team. We think in particular of Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones who complete a very complete corps of receivers, Dre Kirkpatrick who will be a regular starter, George Iloka who will become a leader of the defense but also Kevin Zeitler who will be, a posteriori, one of the best guards in the league. Two pivotal drafts that will allow the Bengals to dominate their division but will not allow them to win any game in the playoffs.

6 – Minnesota Vikings, Draft 2015:

Notable picks: CB Trae Waynes (Pick 11), ILB Eric Kendricks (Pick 45), DE Danielle Hunter (Pick 88), WR Stefon Diggs (Pick 146)

The research work of front office of the Vikings for the draft is rarely put forward. This class of 2015, however, perfectly illustrates the capabilities of scouting of the team. The team first recruited Trae Waynes and Eric Kendricks, two players who will prove to be very good starters in the future. However, the picks that get attention are in the middle of the draft. By selecting Danielle Hunter and Stefon Diggs, the franchise added a Por Bowler and a great receiver far enough down the draft. Two players who will have an impact as soon as they arrive in the league. Without necessarily transcending the team, this class of draft offered him many talented players.

7 – Indianapolis Colts, Draft 2018:

Notable Picks: OG Quenton Nelson (Pick 6), LB Darius Leonard (Pick 36), OG Braden Smith (Pick 37)

Before this draft, the observation was striking: the team has talent but is sorely lacking in players on the offensive line to protect an Andrew Luck who is too often injured because of this lack of protection. 2018 will change everything for Indy. Quenton Nelson, future All Pro, and Braden Smith come to solidify the trench and relieve Luck. Better, the farcnhsie recovers Darius Leonard at 2e tower who will be voted defensive rookie of the year and will impose himself as a tackle machine and a defensive leader from the moment he arrives. The sporting impact is immediate. From 4-12 in 2017, the Colts’ record rose to 10-6 the following year and the franchise won its division. The offensive line was transformed and suddenly became one of the strongest in the league. Overwhelming.

8 – Pittsburgh Steelers, Draft 2010:

Notable Picks: C Maurkice Pouncey (Pick 18), WR Emmanuel Sanders (Pick 82), WR Antonio Brown (Pick 195)

In 2010, Pittsburgh will make three big moves and strengthen considerably. First, the franchise picks up Maurkice Pouncey at 1er tower which will directly become holder and Pro Bowler after joining the league. Then, the Steleers enlist Emmanuel Sanders, a solid receiver who will however make a career on the side of the Broncos. Finally, the franchise drafted one of the biggest steals in recent league history by taking Antonio Brown with the No. 195 pick. The receiver is gradually becoming a phenomenon and is one of the best receivers of this decade.

9 – Oakland Raiders, Draft 2014:

Notable Picks: Edge Khalil Mack (Pick 5), QB Derek Carr (Pick 36)

A monster and a great hope. During the 2014 Draft, Oakland recovers its future offensive and defensive leaders. At 1er turn, it is Khalil Mack who is drafted and the player will quickly establish himself as one of the best defenders in the league (he will be defender of the year in 2016). In the next round, the Raiders orient themselves on the quarterback Derek Carr. If he is decried today, we must not forget that Carr was a legitimate candidate for the title of MVP in 2016, the year in which the franchise finished with a record of 12-4.

10 – Philadelphia Eagles, Draft 2012:

Notable Picks: DT Fletcher Cox (Pick 12), LB Mychal Kendricks (Pick 46), DE Vinny Curry (Pick 59), QB Nick Foles (Pick 88),

If you are looking for the key players of the title of Philadelphia in 2017, you have to go back to the 2012 Draft. Indeed, many of these players were drafted that year but some hatched later. This Draft included in particular Mychal Kendricks and Vinny Curry, solid elements of the defense, but especially Fletcher Cox, an ultra-dominant player on the defensive line. To also note the presence of Nick Foles, MVP of the Superbowl LII, who however experienced other franchises and many misadventures before returning to the Eagles and being crowned in 2017.

VSThe ranking is of course subjective, reflecting only a point of view. Howeverit is certain that these ten Drafts have indeed marked the last decade.

Louis Rousseau

The words « Minnesota Miracle » and « No-Call » are scratched from my vocabulary. My heart mourns the retirement of Drew Brees and the loneliness of RJ Barrett in Madison Square Garden.

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