If the Denver Broncos lose on Sunday, we’ll end up with anywhere from the 16th pick to the 20th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Does four draft slots matter?
I chose to look at this by analyzing the players taken in 2006-2015 in the first round with picks 16 though 20 (the last ten drafts). While it generally takes three years to grade a draft pick, first round picks are expected to contribute immediately on almost every team. I’m writing this to answer some disagreement among the staff about whether there is much difference between the 16th and the 20th spot in the draft. This will only look at the first round.
There turned out to be quite a big difference in between the player taken at 16 and the player taken at 20 this year, with Tamba Hali turning into a perennial Pro-Bowler and Jason Allen spending his career mostly as a bench player. Point for the 20th pick.
Neither player was great, but Justin Harrell was a huge bust while Aaron Ross had a decent career as a minor contributor. Point for the 20th pick.
DRC and Aqib Talib have had similar careers and both have been elite CBs for some time in the league. Tie.
English was a total bust, while Pettigrew was a minor contributor. Half a point for the 20th pick.
Both players have had similar careers as average starters at their respective positions. Tie.
Kerrigan has been an above average 4-3 DE. Clayborn has been a bust. Point for the 16th pick.
Coples and Wright have been shown flashes of greatness but both have been oft-injured. Tie.
E.J. Manuel couldn’t keep his starting QB job in BUF. Kyle Long has been an elite OG in the NFL. Point for the 20th pick.
Zack Martin has been an elite starter at OG for the Cowboys since his rookie season. Brandin Cooks has been good, but not elite. Point for the 16th pick.
It’s early, but at this point Kevin Johnson appears to have more value for his team than Nelson Agholor. Point for the 16th pick.
Taylor Decker has started all 15 games so far this season as a rookie RT for DET. Darron Lee has started 8 of the 12 games he has appeared in. At this point it appears that Decker is the better pick, but this is close. 0.5 points for the 16th pick.
Using my ultra-scientific points system, the final tally for the last decade of drafts is 3.5 to 3.5 - a tie. Meaning that there is no real difference between drafting at the 16th position and drafting at the 20th position. If you wish to pursue this further by looking at the picks in later rounds at these two spots, all of the data for this was gathered from pro-football-reference.com under there draft section.