6 worst-drafting NFL teams of decade so far
When they traded 2016 first-round draft pick Corey Coleman to the Bills on Sunday, the Browns confirmed what had long been clear to many: No other franchise comes close for the title of the decade’s worst-drafting NFL team.
In weighing how teams have fared this decade, USA Today looked at the draft classes from 2010-16 (the most recent two were omitted to withhold judgment on several players who have yet to see the field). Key considerations included how teams had capitalized on their draft capital, including how many of the early round picks remained on their original roster.
1. Cleveland Browns
The Browns not only whiffed badly on their first-round selections — not one of their 10 is still on the roster, and three out of the league altogether — but also missed on many Day 2 and 3 selections. Perhaps just as painful is that 17 players selected in Rounds 1-3 are currently playing for other teams.
In essence, that last point indicates the Browns did draft some talented players —including offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz (now with the Chiefs), pass rusher Jabaal Sheard (Colts) and defensive tackle Danny Shelton (Patriots). Many others, however, were former top picks like Coleman who wore out their welcome in Cleveland or were traded for pennies on the dollar.
Making matters worse, the Browns passed on quarterbacks Carson Wentz, now with the Eagles, and Deshaun Watson, now with the Texans despite a glaring need at the position. Chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta even went as far as saying in a radio appearance two years ago the organization didn’t think Wentz, an MVP candidate last season before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, was a top 20 NFL quarterback.
2. Buffalo Bills
The incongruity of Buffalo’s current roster and its drafting history stems from a purge of players selected under the previous regime of coach Rex Ryan and GM Doug Whaley. Of their draft classes from 2010-16, the Bills have kept just four players.
In fact, Buffalo does not employ one player from any of its classes from 2010 through 2014.
The Bills had 12 players selected in the first three rounds of those classes end up with other teams. Some, such as cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore (Patriots) and Ronald Darby (Eagles), are high-end starters.
3. New York Jets
New York’s first-round record was far from sterling during this stretch, with Kyle Wilson, Quinton Coples, Dee Milliner and Calvin Pryor all failing to reach a second contract with the team. But New York’s second-round haul from 2012-16 was just as bad, if not worse: WR Stephen Hill, QB Geno Smith, TE Jace Amaro, WR Devin Smith and QB Christian Hackenberg. None remain with the team, and Smith and Amaro are the only two on NFL rosters.
Perhaps a vestige of the Ryan era, the Jets took high-risk players who flashed athleticism but couldn’t translate their skill sets to the field. They tied with the 49ers for most first-round players (four) to wash out of the league in that span.
4. San Francisco 49ers
The Niners are trending upward with John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan at the helm. But previous general manager Trent Baalke’s spotty drafting record and organizational upheaval led to a depletion of home-grown talent. Just two players from the 2010-14 drafts, 2014 first-round defensive back Jimmie Ward and 2011 seventh-round guard Mike Person, remain on the roster.
5. Indianapolis Colts
If it weren’t for quarterback Andrew Luck, taken first overall in the 2012 draft, Indy would likely be a lot higher on this list. The Colts are still paying for short-sighted picks and insufficient investment on the defense and offensive lines.
One of the most glaring issues has been merely identifying NFL-caliber talent. Of all teams on this list, the Colts have the fewest draft selections from that span who remain in the league with just 23.
6. Denver Broncos
The Broncos did win Super Bowl 50 with plenty of homegrown talent. And Denver has selected a few upper-tier players with their first-round picks, namely linebacker Von Miller and receiver Demaryius Thomas. But finding a quarterback in the draft has been the Broncos’ Achilles heel. Denver used three of its first- or second-round draft picks from 2010-16 on quarterbacks, and none — Tim Tebow, Brock Osweiler, and Paxton Lynch — proved the long-term answer.