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Will drafting 16th instead of 20th make a difference?

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NFL: Pro Bowl-Draft Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

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.

2006

Pick Player Pos Tm Begin End Career AV AV/yr
16 Jason Allen DB MIA 2006 2012 13 1.9
17 Chad Greenway LB MIN 2007 2016 62 6.2
18 Bobby Carpenter LB DAL 2006 2012 10 1.4
19 Antonio Cromartie DB SDG 2006 2016 61 5.5
20 Tamba Hali DE KAN 2006 2016 76 6.9

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.

2007

Pick Player Pos Tm Begin End Career AV AV/yr
16 Justin Harrell DT GNB 2007 2010 2 0.5
17 Jarvis Moss DE DEN 2007 2011 3 0.6
18 Leon Hall DB CIN 2007 2016 49 4.9
19 Michael Griffin DB TEN 2007 2016 51 5.1
20 Aaron Ross DB NYG 2007 2013 21 3.0

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.

2008

Pick Player Pos Tm Begin End Career AV AV/yr
16 Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie DB ARI 2008 2016 43 4.8
17 Gosder Cherilus T DET 2008 2016 49 5.4
18 Joe Flacco QB BAL 2008 2016 75 8.3
19 Jeff Otah T CAR 2008 2011 13 3.3
20 Aqib Talib DB TAM 2008 2016 46 5.1

DRC and Aqib Talib have had similar careers and both have been elite CBs for some time in the league. Tie.

2009

Pick Player Pos Tm Begin End Career AV AV/yr
16 Larry English LB SDG 2009 2014 7 1.2
17 Josh Freeman QB TAM 2009 2015 38 5.4
18 Robert Ayers DE DEN 2009 2016 20 2.5
19 Jeremy Maclin WR PHI 2009 2016 45 5.6
20 Brandon Pettigrew TE DET 2009 2015 22 3.1

English was a total bust, while Pettigrew was a minor contributor. Half a point for the 20th pick.

2010

Pick Player Pos Tm Begin End Career AV AV/yr
16 Derrick Morgan DE TEN 2010 2016 26 3.7
17 Mike Iupati G SFO 2010 2016 53 7.6
18 Maurkice Pouncey C PIT 2010 2016 48 6.9
19 Sean Weatherspoon LB ATL 2010 2016 22 3.1
20 Kareem Jackson DB HOU 2010 2016 29 4.1

Both players have had similar careers as average starters at their respective positions. Tie.

2011

Pick Player Pos Tm Begin End Career AV AV/yr
16 Ryan Kerrigan DE WAS 2011 2016 35 5.8
17 Nate Solder T NWE 2011 2016 37 6.2
18 Corey Liuget DT SDG 2011 2016 31 5.2
19 Prince Amukamara DB NYG 2011 2016 17 2.8
20 Adrian Clayborn DE TAM 2011 2016 15 2.5

Kerrigan has been an above average 4-3 DE. Clayborn has been a bust. Point for the 16th pick.

2012

Pick Player Pos Tm Begin End Career AV AV/yr
16 Quinton Coples DE NYJ 2012 2015 20 5.0
17 Dre Kirkpatrick DB CIN 2012 2016 12 2.4
18 Melvin Ingram DE SDG 2012 2016 14 2.8
19 Shea McClellin DE CHI 2012 2016 13 2.6
20 Kendall Wright WR TEN 2012 2016 21 4.2

Coples and Wright have been shown flashes of greatness but both have been oft-injured. Tie.

2013

Pick Player Pos Tm Begin End Career AV AV/yr
16 EJ Manuel QB BUF 2013 2016 9 2.3
17 Jarvis Jones LB PIT 2013 2016 14 3.5
18 Eric Reid DB SFO 2013 2016 19 4.8
19 Justin Pugh T NYG 2013 2016 20 5.0
20 Kyle Long G CHI 2013 2016 30 7.5

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.

2014

Pick Player Pos Tm Begin End Career AV AV/yr
16 Zack Martin G DAL 2014 2016 22 7.3
17 C.J. Mosley LB BAL 2014 2016 22 7.3
18 Calvin Pryor DB NYJ 2014 2016 10 3.3
19 Ja'Wuan James T MIA 2014 2016 12 4.0
20 Brandin Cooks WR NOR 2014 2016 14 4.7

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.

2015

Pick Player Pos Tm Begin End Career AV AV/yr
16 Kevin Johnson CB HOU 2015 2016 5 2.5
17 Arik Armstead DT SFO 2015 2016 1 0.5
18 Marcus Peters CB KAN 2015 2016 11 5.5
19 Cameron Erving C CLE 2015 2016 2 1.0
20 Nelson Agholor WR PHI 2015 2016 2 1.0

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.

2016

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.

Conclusion

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.