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Ranking Every No. 1 NFL Draft Pick

A fun exercise here from Yahoo's Jay Busbee, and fun to discuss and debate. I was disappointed that Jay Berwanger was not in last place, but Jay only went back through the 52 years of the combined draft starting in 1967. Peyton Manning is No. 1. Last place goes not to the worst player, but to the player who provided the least amount of value to the team that drafted him: Bo Jackson.

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11 comments, Last at 08 May 2019, 8:08am

1 Re: Ranking Every No. 1 NFL Draft Pick

I'm not sure how a system based almost solely on value to the team that drafted them ranks Vinny Testaverde (six below-average non-playoff seasons with Tampa, left as a free agent) ahead of Drew Bledsoe (nine generally above-average seasons with the Patriots, made a Super Bowl, traded for a first rounder).

3 Re: Ranking Every No. 1 NFL Draft Pick

John Elway never plays for the Colts but get #15. In a trade he brings an All-pro left tackle at a time when left tackles weren't deemed as valuable as they later became.

Tom Cousineau never plays for the Bills but gets #49. His trade brings in a HoF QB who went to 4 Super Bowls.

Those two should be ranked within a few places of each other and I'd even argue Cousineau's should be the higher ranked. Plain fact it's poor analytics. The author uses one criteria to put Bo at #52 (value to drafting team) then uses another criteria (overall career value) to rank Cousineau at #49 and Elway at #15.

(NB there was a photo essay doing the same thing on NFL.com earlier in the week. Notably OJ's commentary was as short as possible and stayed with the bare facts of his playing career even downplayed his career).

4 Re: Ranking Every No. 1 NFL Draft Pick

Yeah, the criteria isn't particularly well applied. Even the Bo Jackson case which seems to be the primary driver is quite questionable, as an empty seat still provided more value than someone like JaMarcus Russell who cost his team millions of dollars while giving worse than replacement level performance