PFF Ranked The Teams Who Draft The Best In the First Round Of The NFL Draft And The Results May Shock You

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the podium of the NFL draft

Getty Image / Kevin Sabitus

As the calendar turns to April, that means it is getting closer to the 2023 NFL Draft. The annual method of selecting college players by the 32 NFL teams is more popular than ever, with thousands of mock drafts published each year, and talk around the prospects occurring year-round.

Hitting draft picks can be a huge boost to a franchise, as it is the cheapest and most reliable way to add significant talent to a franchise. The best teams nearly always build through the draft. Take a look at last year’s Kansas City Chiefs, who won the Super Bowl. They found superstars like Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Creed Humphries, and Chris Jones through the draft. Those four players are the cornerstones of the franchise. The same can be said for nearly every Super Bowl champion recently. With the salary cap and rookie wage scale, it’s just much more efficient to build through the draft and use free agency to supplement it.

Some think the NFL draft is a crap shoot. And, that makes some sense. There is only so much projection one can do on a college prospect before playing against the pros. But, some teams have been better at it than others, and Pro Football Focus set out to see what team has drafted the best since 2014.

And, much to the dismay of many, it’s the Dallas Cowboys that have drafted the best. Here is what PFF had to say about them.

Another team with just one obvious whiff among their draft picks, the Cowboys have had a remarkable strike rate over this period despite some selections that raised eyebrows at the time. They have also seemingly gotten a little lucky with players turning out to be something different or more than they bargained for. Tyler Smith was seen as a very raw offensive lineman and was expected to be the team’s starting guard before injuries forced Dallas to ask him to man the left tackle spot all season as a rookie. He earned a 73.3 overall PFF grade and was right around league average among starters at left tackle. Micah Parsons was drafted as an off-ball linebacker before Dallas discovered that it had stumbled into the second coming of Lawrence Taylor as an edge rusher. Last season, his first as a full-time edge defender, Parsons led the NFL with 90 pressures in the regular season before adding 16 more across two playoff games.

The other teams in the top five were the Packers, Lions, Panthers, and Chargers.

On the bottom was the Las Vegas Raiders. They’ve had some decent picks, but the Mike Mayock-Jon Gruden tenure was a comedy of errors.

The Raiders’ whiffs in the first round during the Jon Gruden/Mike Mayock era were legendary. They repeatedly committed the cardinal sin of reaching relative to the consensus board and ended up with very little in return almost every time. During a two-year period of 2019-20, they had five first-round draft picks. The only one of those players still with the team is running back Josh Jacobs, who may only be there for his one year on the franchise tag before the team moves on to get younger and cheaper. There have been fewer worse sequences of first-round selections in league history, and they were selections that were lambasted at the time, rather than just with the benefit of hindsight.

In just a few weeks, another crop of make-or-break prospects will find new homes in the NFL Draft.