It’s mid-April and we are about two weeks away from the 2022 NFL draft. After an action-packed offseason, we should expect the unexpected at this year’s live draft held in Paradise, Nevada.
The 2022 draft will kick off on Thursday, Apr 28, and conclude on Saturday, Apr 30. This year, 262 names will be called that weekend, effectively changing their lives and the lives of their loved ones. The NFL draft is a life-altering experience for the prospects and can be a franchise-altering for the teams.
NFL teams evaluate prospects with a single goal in mind, making the right selection on draft day. With so much riding on these selections, I dove into the last five NFL drafts (2017-2021) to determine what the best value picks were over that time.
2017 NFL Draft Round One Pick #10: Patrick Mahomes, QB
In the 2017 NFL draft with the 10th pick, the Kansas City Chiefs selected quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes in just five seasons has gone on to win a Superbowl, a Superbowl MVP, and a league MVP.
In his first season as the starting quarterback in 2018, Mahomes took the NFL by storm throwing 50 touchdown passes and winning league MVP. Now with comparisons to Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, it’s safe to say Mahomes is well on his way to a Hall of Fame career.
The 2017 draft has several proven players that are well on their way to dominant pro careers. With that said, the Chiefs acquiring an elite talent at the most important position with the 10th overall pick is my best value pick of the 2017 draft.
Honorable Mention: Cooper Kupp, WR (Third Round, Pick #69)
2018 NFL Draft Round One Pick #32: Lamar Jackson, QB
In the 2018 NFL draft with the 32nd pick, the Baltimore Ravens selected quarterback Lamar Jackson. Lamar is one of the most controversial first-round selections of any recent draft class. He’s an elite athlete and a former Heisman trophy winner yet multiple NFL teams doubted his ability to play quarterback at the next level.
In his four seasons as the Ravens’ starting quarterback Lamar has compiled 84 passing touchdowns and 21 rushing touchdowns. He’s a former league MVP (2019) and a two-time Pro Bowler. Lamar has shown he’s not only capable of competing at the next level, but he’s also dominating the competition.
The Raven’s finding their franchise quarterback with the 32nd pick whose also one of the most gifted athletes we’ve ever seen is my best value pick of the 2018 draft.
Honorable Mention: Fred Warner, LB (Third Round, Pick #70)
2019 NFL Draft Round Two Pick #36: Deebo Samuel, WR
In the 2019 NFL draft with the 36th pick, the San Francisco 49ers selected wide receiver, Deebo Samuel. Deebo is one of the most versatile players in the entire league. In his third season, he demonstrated there are very few like him. Deebo finished the 2021 season with 1770 total yards (rushing and receiving) along with 14 touchdowns. He was the MVP for the 49ers’ offense this past season and led them on a wild playoff run.
Deebo Samuel was the third wide receiver taken in the 2019 draft but there’s an argument to be made that he was the top offensive weapon in the entire draft. The 49ers selecting Deebo with the 36th overall pick was an absolute steal making him my best value pick of the 2019 draft.
Honorable Mention: Maxx Crosby, DE (Fourth Round, Pick #106)
2020 NFL Draft Round Two Pick #41: Jonathan Taylor, RB
In the 2020 NFL draft with the 41st pick, the Indianapolis Colts selected running back, Jonathan Taylor. Taylor was the third running back selected in the draft however after two NFL seasons there is no question he’s the best of the group. Since entering the NFL, Taylor has been unstoppable rushing for 2,980 yards and 29 touchdowns.
In 2021, Taylor broke out in a major way leading the NFL in rushing with 1,811 yards along with 18 touchdowns. Taylor has become the centerpiece of the Colts’ offense and will be for the foreseeable future. He’s established himself as one of the top running backs in the league which is why he’s my best value pick of the 2020 draft.
Honorable Mention: Justin Jefferson, WR (First Round, Pick #22)
2021 NFL Draft Round One Pick #12: Micah Parsons, LB
In the 2021 NFL draft with the 12th pick, the Dallas Cowboys selected linebacker, Micah Parsons. Parsons hit the ground running and has been a nightmare to opposing offenses. In his rookie campaign, Parsons amassed 84 tackles and 13 sacks while lined up at multiple defensive positions.
The Cowboys defense made significant improvements in 2021 due to the arrival of Parsons. His ability to rush the passer and disrupt the run game is exceptional. He was awarded Defensive Rookie of the Year and defensive first-team All-Pro honors. Parsons is a generational talent and for that reason, he is my best value pick of the 2021 draft.
Honorable Mention: Davis Mills, QB (Third Round, Pick #67)