5 Best Team Drafts Since 2012

Radio City Music Hall prior to the NFL Draft on Thursday May 8,2014 in New York City. (AP Photo/Tomasso DeRosa)

With the 2016 National Football League Draft right around the corner, we look back at the four previous drafts and see which teams have reaped the benefits of their draft picks and undrafted free agent signings the most. Enjoy!

Eagles5.) Philadelphia Eagles – 2012 Draft Class

Round 1 – Fletcher Cox – Defensive Tackle (12th overall)

Round 2 – Mychal Kendricks – Linebacker (46th overall)

Round 2 – Vinny Curry – Defensive End (59th overall)

Round 3 – Nick Foles – Quarterback (88th overall)

Round 4 – Brandon Boykin – Cornerback (123rd overall)

Round 5 – Dennis Kelly – Offensive Tackle (153rd overall)

Round 6 – Marvin McNutt – Wide Receiver (194th overall)

Andy Reid and Howie Roseman nailed their final draft together before the Chip Kelly era began in 2013. Moving up in the first round to get Fletcher Cox seems like it paid off as four years later, Cox is, arguably, the second best interior defensive lineman in the NFL behind J.J. Watt. Mychal Kendricks and Vinny Curry have also been intricate parts of the defense, both landing big second pro contracts.

Kendricks has become one of the most dangerous and explosive inside linebackers in the pass rush, totaling 12 sacks and 267 tackles for a loss over the course of four seasons.

Curry has never received been a full-time starter, but has still been rated as a top-five defensive end when it comes to pass rushing efficiency. Despite not fitting in Kelly’s 3-4 defensive system, Curry still racked up 16.5 sacks in over three seasons.

Nick Foles did not end up being the franchise quarterback some suspected he would be, but Foles still brought the Eagles to the postseason. In 2013, the Eagles won the NFC East while Foles threw for 27 touchdowns to only two interceptions in Kelly’s offense. Foles has crumbled without Kelly’s offense, but nonetheless, he was worth the third round pick by Roseman and Reid.

Another guy that was cast off by Kelly, but still produced when in Philadelphia, was cornerback Brandon Boykin, who was taken in the fourth round out of Georgia. Boykin never became a starting outside corner, but he was one of the best slot corners in the NFL for a two-year span. In 2013, Boykin had six interceptions, which was good enough for second most in the NFL. His ability to take over a game was proven in the Week 17 NFC East title match against the Dallas Cowboys, when Boykin picked off Kyle Orton to seal the victory and the division title for the Eagles.

Dennis Kelly has been a below average backup offensive lineman, and Marvin McNutt never worked out as a receiver in the NFL. But nonetheless, Philadelphia nailed the 2012 NFL Draft.

4.) Cincinnati Bengals – 2012 Draft Class

Round 1 – Dre Kirkpatrick – Cornerback (17th overall)

BengalsRound 1 – Kevin Zeitler – Offensive Guard (27th overall)

Round 2 – Devon Still – Defensive Tackle (53rd overall)

Round 3 – Mohamed Sanu – Wide Receiver (83rd overall)

Round 3 – Brandon Thompson – Defensive Tackle (93rd overall)

Round 4 – Orson Charles – Tight End (116th overall)

Round 5 – Shaun Prater – Cornerback (156th overall)

Round 5 – Marvin Jones – Wide Receiver (166th overall)

Round 5 – George Iloka – Safety (167th overall)

Round 6 – Daniel Herron – Running Back (191st overall)

How the Bengals hit on so many of their draft picks in 2012 is impressive.

Dre Kirkpatrick has dealt with health issues most of his career, but fellow first round pick Kevin Zeitler has been a solid starting guard since being taken 27th overall. Zeitler had an impressive rookie year where he only gave up four sacks., and he has started 55 of 56 games played in his career.

Devon Still and his daughter’s story is truly inspirational, but as far as his playing career there has not been much success. Still was waived by the Bengals early in the 2015 season and clung on with the Houston Texans.

Neither third round pick really met their full potential in Mohamed Sanu and Brandon Thompson. Sanu, as the expected tag team partner with A.J. Green, never surpassed over 800 yards or 60 receptions. The Bengals let him go in free agency as he signed with the Atlanta Falcons. Thompson has been a rotational player at defensive tackle only starting seven games in four seasons.

The Bengals nailed the fifth round taking both receiver Marvin Jones and safety Georgie Iloka. Jones cashed in with the Lions this past free agency after becoming the Bengals second option at receiver instead of Sanu, who was expected to assume that role. Jones had an impressive 2015 season, finishing the year with 65 receptions, 816 yards and four touchdowns. Iloka was another big pick for the Bengals, being the center piece of the secondary. His aggression around the ball is impressive, racking up five interceptions and 20 pass deflections in three years as a starter.

Finding five starters in one draft class will make any team a consistent contender, which is exactly what the Bengals have become.

3.) Oakland Raiders – 2014 Draft Class         Raiders            

Round 1 – Khalil Mack – Outside Linebacker (5th overall)

Round 2 – Derek Carr – Quarterback (36th overall)

Round 3 – Gabe Jackson – Offensive Guard (81st overall)

Round 4 – Justin Ellis – Defensive Tackle (107th overall)

Round 4 – Keith McGill – Cornerback (116th overall)

Round 7 – Travis Carrie – Cornerback (219th overall)

Round 7 – Shelby Harris – Defensive End (235th overall)

Round 7 – Jonathan Dowling – Safety (243rd overall)

The 2014 draft is the foundation of the new-look Raiders. First round pick Khalil Mack has been an absolute monster since being taken fifth overall. In only two seasons, Mack has become one of the best outside pass rushers in the league. His 15 sacks in 2015 was good enough for second most in the NFL only behind J.J. Watt.

Not only did the Raiders find their back-bone on defense, but they also found their franchise quarterback in Derek Carr. Carr was the fourth quarterback taken behind Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, and Teddy Bridgewater, but has looked better than all three in two seasons with the Raiders. Carr threw 32 touchdowns in 2015 which was seventh most in the NFL.

Gabe Jackson and Justin Ellis have both been solid starters for Oakland on the offensive and defensive line.

The 2014 draft gave the Raiders four huge pieces to the puzzle in turning around what has been an abysmal franchise that is now is seen as the AFC West favorite in 2016.

2.) Jacksonville Jaguars – 2014 Draft Class 

Round 1 – Blake Bortles – Quarterback (3rd overall)

JaguarsRound 2 – Marquise Lee – Wide Receiver (39th overall)

Round 3 – Allen Robinson – Wide Receiver (61st overall)

Round 3 – Brandon Linder – Offensive Guard (93rd overall)

Round 4 – Aaron Colvin – Cornerback (114th overall)

Round 5 – Telvin Smith – Linebacker (144th overall)

Round 5 – Chris Smith – Defensive End (159th overall)

Round 6 – Luke Bowanko – Center (205th overall)

Round 7 – Storm Johnson – Running Back (222nd overall)

Undrafted free agent –  Allen Hurns – Wide Receiver

Like the Raiders, Jacksonville seems to be on a turn around thanks to the 2014 draft class. Blake Bortles has been exactly what the Jaguars hoped for when they took him out of the University of Central Florida with the third overall pick. Bortles has thrown for 46 touchdowns in two seasons, including 35 alone in 2015. The connection between Bortles and fellow 2014 rookies Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns has grown into one of the best in the NFL.

Despite second round pick Marquise Lee battling injuries throughout the start of his career, Robinson has turned into one of the best receivers in the NFL. In 2015, Robinson had 1,400 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns, becoming a nightmare for corners on the outside.

Undrafted free agent Allen Hurns broke out in 2015, passing 1,000 yards receiving and finishing with 10 touchdowns. In many offenses, Hurns would be considered the top receiving threat.

The Jaguars found two gems on defense in the fourth and fifth round with cornerback Aaron Colvin and linebacker Telvin Smth. Fourth round pick Colvin has been a big surprise for Jacksonville. Colvin has all the tools to be a lockdown top corner. The second year had 73 tackles, seven pass deflections, and four sacks in Gus Bradley’s defense in his breakout 2015 campaign.

Telvin Smith became one of the leaders on the Jaguars defense. Smith led Jacksonville in tackles with 128 last season to go along with two-and-a-half sacks and one interception.

Jacksonville was seen as the doormat of the NFL for almost a decade but because of the young core built on offense and defense, they could take the AFC South by storm in 2016.

1.) Seattle Seahawks – 2012 Draft Class          

Round 1 – Bruce Irvin – Defensive End (15th overall)

Round 2 – Bobby Wagner – Linebacker (47th overall)

Round 3 – Russell Wilson – Quarterback (75th overall)

SeahawksRound 4 – Robert Turbin – Running Back (106th overall)

Round 4 – Jaye Howard – Defensive Tackle (114th overall)

Round 5 – Korey Toomer – Linebacker (154th overall)

Round 6 – Jeremy Lane – Cornerback (172nd overall)

Round 6 – Winston Guy – Safety (181st overall)

Round 7 – J.R. Sweezy – Defensive End (225th overall)

Round 7 – Greg Scruggs – Defensive End (232nd overall)

Seattle really knows how to find diamonds in the rough. Bruce Irvin was avoided by most teams in the first round because of his character issues, but became a consistent starter on the defensive with Michael Bennett and Brandon Mebane. Irvin racked up 22 sacks and 96 tackles in four seasons with Seattle before cashing in with Oakland this year.

Second round pick Bobby Wagner has become the backbone of Seattle’s defense, but third round pick Russell Wilson has become the face of the franchise. Wilson has led the Seahawks to the postseason every year since beating out Matt Flynn for the starting job in 2012, including two Super Bowl appearances and one ring.

Add a solid rotational corner to the mix in Jeremy Lane and you have one pretty dynamic draft class.

Written by Louie DiBiase

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