Finding the Elites - Draft History 2006 - 2010

The question of whether an elite player is easy to find outside the top five-to-seven picks has been being thrown around this blog for well over a month. So I thought I’d take an admittedly subjective (in my own opinion) view of the 2006 through 2010 drafts to see how it all has worked out. I think a pretty clear and unsurprising pattern emerges.

Again, this is subjective. I’m sure some of you will want to argue the merits of some of these players against others and use different metrics (pro bowl, stats, etc) and also consider injuries etc. Frankly, I don’t have the time to do that although that would make this more scientific. Feel free to hash that out in your comments and if there’s a consensus that I’ve screwed this up I’ll post an update or two.


1. Houston - Mario Williams, DE North Carolina State
2. New Orleans - Reggie Bush, RB USC
3. Tennessee - Vince Young, QB Texas
4. N.Y. Jets - D'Brickashaw Ferguson, OT Virginia
5. Green Bay - A.J. Hawk, LB Ohio State
6. San Francisco - Vernon Davis, TE Maryland
7. Oakland - Michael Huff, DB Texas
8. Buffalo - Donte Whitner, S Ohio State
9. Detroit - Ernie Sims, LB Florida State
10. Arizona - Matt Leinart, QB USC
11. Denver (from St. Louis) - Jay Cutler, QB Vanderbilt
12. Baltimore (from Cleveland) - Haloti Ngata, DT Oregon
13. Cleveland (from Baltimore) - Kamerion Wimbley, DE/OLB Florida State
14. Philadelphia - Broderick Bunkley, DT Florida State
15. St. Louis (from Atlanta through Denver) - Tye Hill, Cb Clemson
16. Miami - Jason Allen, DB Tennessee
17. Minnesota - Chad Greenway, LB Iowa
18. Dallas - Bobby Carpenter, LB Ohio State
19. San Diego - Antonio Cromartie, CB Florida State
20. Kansas City - Tamba Hali, DE Penn State
21. New England - Laurence Maroney, RB Minnesota
22. San Francisco (from Washington through Denver) - Manny Lawson, DE/OLB North Carolina State
23. Tampa Bay - Davin Joseph, G Oklahoma
24. Cincinnati - Johnathan Joseph, CB South Carolina
25. Pittsburgh (from N.Y. Giants) - Santonio Holmes, WR Ohio State
26. Buffalo (from Chicago) - John McCargo, DT North Carolina State
27. Carolina - DeAngelo Williams, RB Memphis
28. Jacksonville - Marcedes Lewis, TE UCLA
29. NY Jets (from Denver through Atlanta) - Nick Mangold, C Ohio State
30. Indianapolis - Joseph Addai, RB LSU
31. Seattle - Kelly Jennings, CB Miami (FL)
32. N.Y. Giants (from Pittsburgh) - Mathias Kiwanuka, DE Boston College

7 Elite Players: 4 in the top 6, 3 peppered throughout the remainder of the round.


1. Oakland - JaMarcus Russell, QB LSU

2. Detroit - Calvin Johnson, WR Georgia Tech

3. Cleveland- Joe Thomas, OT Wisconsin

4. Tampa Bay - Gaines Adams, DE Clemson

5. Arizona - Levi Brown, OT Penn State

6. Washington - LaRon Landry, S LSU

7. Minnesota - Adrian Peterson, RB Oklahoma

8. Atlanta (from Houston) - Jamaal Anderson, DE Arkansas

9. Miami - Ted Ginn Jr., WR Ohio State

10. Houston (from Atlanta) - Omobi Okoye, DT Louisville

11. San Francisco - Patrick Willis, LB Mississippi

12. Buffalo - Marshawn Lynch, RB California

13. St. Louis - Adam Carriker, DT/DE Nebraska

14. NY Jets, (from Carolina) - Darelle Revis, CB Pittsburgh

15. Pittsburgh - Lawrence Timmons, LB Florida State

16. Green Bay - Justin Harrell, DT Tennessee

17. Denver (from Jacksonville) - Jarvis Moss, DE Florida

18. Cincinnati - Leon Hall, CB Michigan

19. Tennessee - Michael Griffen, S Texas

20. NY Giants - Aaron Ross, CB Texas

21. Jacksonville (from Denver) - Reggie Nelson, S Florida

22. Cleveland (from Dallas) - Brady Quinn, QB Notre Dame

23. Kansas City - Dwayne Bowe, WR LSU

24. New England (from Seattle) - Brandon Meriweather, S Miami

25. Carolina (from NY Jets) - Jon Beason, LB Miami

26. Dallas (from Philadelphia) - Anthony Spencer, DE Purdue
27. New Orleans - Robert Meachem, WR Tennessee
28. San Francisco 49ers (from New England) - Joe Staley, OT Central Michigan
29. Baltimore - Ben Grubbs, OG Auburn
30. San Diego - Craig Davis, WR LSU
31. Chicago - Greg Olsen, TE Miami (FL)
32. Indianapolis - Anthony Gonzalez, WR Ohio State

6 Elite Players: 3 in the top 7, 3 peppered throughout the remainder of the round.


1. Miami - Jake Long, OT Michigan
2. St. Louis - Chris Long, DE Virginia
3. Atlanta - Matt Ryan, QB Boston College
4. Oakland - Darren McFadden, RB Arkansas
5. Kansas City - Glen Dorsey, DT LSU
6. NY Jets - Vernon Gholston, DE Ohio State
7. New Orleans (From 49ers through Patriots)- Sedrick Ellis, DT USC
8. Jacksonville (From Ravens)- Derrick Harvey, DE Florida
9. Cincinnati - Keith Rivers, LB USC
10. New England (From Saints)- Jerod Mayo, LB Tennessee
11. Buffalo - Leotis McKelvin, CB Troy
12. Denver - Ryan Clady, OT Boise State
13. Carolina - Jonathan Stewart, RB Oregon
14. Chicago - Chris Williams, OT Vanderbilt
15. Kansas City (From Lions)- Branden Albert, G Virginia
16. Arizona - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB Tennessee State
17. Detroit (From Vikings through Chiefs)- Gosder Cherilus, OT Boston College
18. Baltimore (From Texans)- Joe Flacco, QB Delaware
19. Carolina (From Eagles)- Jeff Otah, OT Pittsburgh
20. Tampa Bay - Aqib Talib, CB Kansas
21. Atlanta (From Redskins)- Sam Baker, OT USC
22. Dallas (From Browns)- Felix Jones, RB Arkansas
23. Pittsburgh - Rashard Mendenhall, RB Illinois
24. Tennessee - Chris Johnson, RB East Carolina
25. Dallas (From Seahawks)- Mike Jenkins, CB South Florida
26. Houston (From Jaguars through Ravens)- Duane Brown, OT Virginia Tech
27. San Diego - Antoine Cason, CB Arizona
28. Seattle (From Cowboys)- Lawrence Jackson, DE USC
29. San Francisco (From Colts)- Kentwan Balmer, DT North Carolina
30. NY Jets (From Packers)- Dustin Keller, TE Purdue
31. NY Giants - Kenny Phillips, S Miami (FL)

5 Elite Players: 3 in the top 4 picks, 2 late round picks.


1. Detroit - Matthew Stafford, QB Georgia
2. St. Louis - Jason Smith, OT Baylor
3. Kansas City Tyson Jackson, DE LSU
4. Seattle Aaron Curry, LB Wake Forest
5. New York Jets (from Cleveland) - Mark Sanchez, QB USC
6. Cincinnati - Andre Smith, OT Alabama
7. Oakland - Darius Heyward-Bey, WR Maryland
8. Jacksonville - Eugene Monroe, OT Virginia
9. Green Bay - B.J. Raji, DT Boston College
10. San Francisco - Michael Crabtree, WR Texas Tech
11. Buffalo - Aaron Maybin, DE Penn State
12. Denver - Knowshon Moreno, RB Georgia
13. Washington - Brian Orakpo, DE Texas
14. New Orleans - Malcolm Jenkins, CB Ohio State
15. Houston - Brian Cushing, LB USC
16. San Diego - Larry English, DE Northern Illinois
17. Tampa Bay
(from New York Jets through Cleveland) - Josh Freeman, QB Kansas State
18. Denver (from Chicago) - Robert Ayers, DE/LB Tennessee
19. Philadelphia (from Tampa Bay through Cleveland) - Jeremy Maclin, WR Missouri
20. Detroit (from Dallas) - Brandon Pettigrew, TE Oklahoma State
21. Cleveland (from Philadelphia) - Alex Mack, C California
22. Minnesota - Percy Harvin, WR Florida
23. Baltimore
(from New England) - Michael Oher, OT Mississippi
24. Atlanta - Peria Jerry, DT Mississippi
25. Miami - Vontae Davis, CB Illinois
26. Green Bay (from Baltimore through New England) - Clay Matthews, LB USC
27. Indianapolis Donald Brown, RB Connecticut
28. Buffalo (from Carolina through Philadelphia) - Eric Wood, C Louisville
29. New York Giants - Hakeem Nicks, WR North Carolina
30. Tennessee - Kenny Britt, WR Rutgers
31. Arizona - Chris Wells, RB Ohio State
32. Pittsburgh - Evander Hood, DT Missouri

5 Elite Players: 1 at the very top, 4 peppers throughout the remainder of the round. As far as patterns go, this draft seems like an outlier.


1. St. Louis - Sam Bradford, QB Oklahoma
2. Detroit - Ndamukong Suh, DT Nebraska
3. Tampa Bay - Gerald McCoy, DT Oklahoma
4. Washington - Trent Williams, OT Oklahoma
5. Kansas City - Eric Berry, S Tennessee
6. Seattle - Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
7. Cleveland - Joe Haden, CB Florida
8. Oakland - Rolando McClain, LB Alabama
9. Buffalo - C.J. Spiller, RB Clemson
10. Jacksonville - Tyson Alualu, DE California
11. San Francisco (from Chicago through Denver) - Anthony Davis, OT Rutgers
12. San Diego (from Miami) - Ryan Matthews, RB Fresno State
13. Philadelphia (from San Francisco through Denver) - Brandon Graham, DE Michigan
14. Seattle (from Denver) - Earl Thomas, S Texas
15. New York Giants Jason Pierre-Paul, DE South Florida
16. Tennessee - Derrick Morgan, DE Georgia Tech
17. San Francisco (from Carolina) - Mike Iupati, OG Idaho
18. Pittsburgh - Maurkice Pouncey, C Florida
19. Atlanta - Sean Weatherspoon, LB Missouri
20. Houston - Kareem Jackson, CB Alabama
21. Cincinnati - Jermaine Gresham, TE Oklahoma
22. Denver (from New England) - Demaryius Thomas, WR Georgia Tech
23. Green Bay - Bryan Bulaga, OT Iowa
24. Dallas (from Philadelphia through Denver and New England) - Dez Bryant, WR Oklahoma Sate
25. Denver (from Baltimore) - Tim Tebow, QB Florida
26. Arizona - Dan Williams, DT Tennessee
27. New England (from Dallas) - Devin McCourty - CB Rutgers
28. Miami (from San Diego) - Jared Odrick, DT Penn State
29. New York Jets - Kyle Wilson, CB Boise State
30. Detroit (from Minnesota) - Jahvid Best, RB California
31. Indianapolis - Jerry Hughes, DE TCU
32. New Orleans - Patrick Robinson, CB Florida State

3 Elite players and of course the verdict is still out on several including Jahvid Best and our own C.J. Spiller among others, but I think I dealt the cards fairly at least: 2 in the top 8, 1 in the middle of the round.


Well, the only concrete conclusions are obvious: if you have a top five pick your chance of getting an elite player is very high, and then there is an IMMEDIATE drop-off in every draft in the sample except for 2009 which I think is just an unusual draft.

Think my judgment is off? Let me know in the comments.

Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of

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