Skip to content

Every AFC team's best and worst draft pick of last decade

Getty Images

With the 2024 NFL Draft just around the corner, we're looking into every team's best and worst picks over the last decade, which covers the drafts between 2014-23. First up is the AFC.


Baltimore Ravens

Best pick: Lamar Jackson. The 2018 draft was known for its QBs, but no one could've predicted that Jackson - that year's 32nd overall pick who many thought should've switched positions due to his athleticism - would become a superstar. One of the greatest mobile QBs in history, Jackson led the NFL in passing touchdowns and set the single-season record for quarterback rushing yards in 2019 en route to unanimously claiming the MVP award. He then won the league's top honor again last year, joining 10 other players with more than one MVP award on their resumes. Not bad for a "running back."

Ryan Kang / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Worst pick: Breshad Perriman. Baltimore certainly expected more than 43 catches and three touchdowns from Perriman after drafting him 26th overall in 2015. But the UCF product couldn't make a big impact in the NFL. Perriman missed his rookie season due to a knee injury and amassed only 576 receiving yards before the Ravens released him before his fourth year with the team.

Buffalo Bills

Best pick: Josh Allen. It's been fascinating to see Allen develop into one of the NFL's premier quarterbacks after his rough 2018 rookie campaign. Many around the league criticized the Bills for trading up from No. 12 to draft the Wyoming product at No. 7. But the signal-caller has improved significantly each year, upgrading his decision-making and accuracy to become a regular MVP candidate. A 6-foot-5 QB with a cannon arm and great mobility, Allen has helped make Buffalo a perennial playoff team and is the only player ever to account for at least 40 touchdowns in four straight seasons.

Worst pick: Kaiir Elam. The Bills moved up two spots to draft Elam 23rd overall in 2022, and the early results of that move aren't encouraging. Yes, Elam can still bounce back as he enters Year 3. However, the 22-year-old's NFL stint has been rough, as he's allowed a 101.5 passer rating when targeted across 16 appearances. The Florida product missed most of the 2023 regular season because of an ankle injury and being benched.

Cincinnati Bengals

Best pick: Joe Burrow. The 2020 No. 1 pick has only been in the NFL for four seasons - and two of those campaigns ended prematurely due to injury - but he's quickly helped put the Bengals on another level. One of the league's most accurate passers, Burrow ranks fourth in touchdown passes since 2021 and has led the club to five playoff wins, the same number of postseason victories the Bengals had before drafting him. Burrow-led Cincy made a Super Bowl appearance during the 2021 campaign but fell short versus the Rams.

Worst pick: John Ross. Injuries were a concern for Ross coming out of college, but the Washington product bolstered his draft stock in 2017 by setting a then-record 4.22 40-yard dash at the combine. However, the speedster never came close to living up to the hype as a No. 9 pick and left Cincy after four seasons with only 733 yards and 10 touchdowns. Ross was drafted between Christian McCaffrey (No. 8 pick) and Patrick Mahomes (No. 10) that year.

Cleveland Browns

Best pick: Myles Garrett. The Browns haven't hit on many first-round talents lately, but they sure nailed the Garrett selection at No. 1 in 2017. It can be hard for first overall picks to meet expectations, but the Texas A&M product is already an established superstar after seven NFL seasons. Garrett has earned five All-Pro berths (three first-team selections) to go along with a Defensive Player of the Year award. His 88.5 sacks rank second in the league since he turned pro.

Worst pick: Justin Gilbert. The 2014 draft produced several stars, but the Browns had a disastrous first round that year. Not only did Cleveland select Gilbert eighth overall, but the team also took quarterback Johnny Manziel at No. 22. Gilbert - the first corner off the board back then - is the only player selected from No. 5 to No. 17 that year who didn't earn a Pro Bowl berth. The Oklahoma State product made 23 appearances with the Browns before being traded for a sixth-rounder. Meanwhile, Manziel also lasted only two seasons and 14 games in Cleveland.

Denver Broncos

Best pick: Justin Simmons. In eight seasons in Denver, Simmons went from being a 2016 third-round pick to becoming one of football's premier safeties. The Boston College product has claimed four second-team All-Pro selections to go along with 30 interceptions, the most in the NFL since 2016. He was released by the Broncos this offseason as a cap casualty.

Worst pick: Paxton Lynch. The Broncos had a big miss when they traded up to take Lynch at No. 26 in 2016 while trying to replace the retired Peyton Manning. The former Memphis quarterback ended up being cut in 2018 after just two seasons and four starts, and he hasn't made an official NFL appearance since. In that same 2016 draft, Dallas tried to move up for Lynch in Round 1 but ultimately settled for Dak Prescott in the fourth round. Phew.

Robert Reiners / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Houston Texans

Best pick: C.J. Stroud. Before you say it's too early to choose Stroud, let's highlight the star QB's 2023 season and who else could have been chosen here. Jadeveon Clowney, Benardrick McKinney, D.J. Reader, and Deshaun Watson were the other main contenders. As good as Watson was for four seasons in Houston, we all know what happened at the end of his tenure with the team. Now combine that with Stroud's magical Year 1. The Ohio State product posted arguably the greatest season ever for a rookie quarterback in 2023 and showed all the signs Houston needed from its franchise guy at age 22. Last year's draft featured a talented QB class, and the Texans may have changed their franchise by taking Stroud at No. 2.

Worst pick: Kevin Johnson. The Texans added Johnson to their cornerback depth chart with the 16th overall pick in 2015, and they sure would like that one back. The Wake Forrest product failed to make an impact, battled several injuries, and recorded just one interception in four seasons. Besides, two future Pro Bowl corners - Marcus Peters (18th overall) and Byron Jones (27th) - were selected later in Round 1.

Indianapolis Colts

Best pick: Quenton Nelson. No other player drafted by the Colts over the last decade has earned more Pro Bowl berths than Nelson's six. Granted, we knew about the guard's potential as the 2018 sixth overall pick, but the Notre Dame product exceeded expectations by becoming one of the NFL's premier linemen straight away. Though he hasn't earned an All-Pro selection in the last two seasons, Nelson allowed only one sack in 2023, according to PFF. Not often do interior O-linemen pay off as top-10 selections, but that's the case here.

Worst pick: Phillip Dorsett. The Dorsett selection in the first round in 2015 was one of the weirdest picks in franchise history. The Colts didn't have a need at wide receiver back then, and Dorsett's production at Miami was far from outstanding. As predicted by many at the time, the wideout was never a great fit in Indy and caught just 51 passes in 26 appearances over two seasons before being traded to New England.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Best pick: Josh Allen. It's easy to see why the Jaguars rewarded Allen with a five-year, $141-million extension this offseason. With very few weaknesses in his game, the 2019 No. 7 pick has been a cornerstone of Jacksonville's defense since entering the league. The two-time Pro Bowler set a franchise single-season record with 17.5 sacks in 2023 and has now posted 21.5 sacks in his last 22 regular-season games dating back to 2022. Competing with Allen for this spot were Trevor Lawrence and Jalen Ramsey. But Lawrence has posted one solid NFL campaign, and Ramsey played just three-plus seasons for the AFC South club.

Worst pick: CJ Henderson. You know a team made a huge mistake when it trades a former top-10 pick two games into his second season for a backup tight end and a third-round selection. Henderson, the No. 9 choice in 2020, played just 10 games for the Jaguars and allowed a passer rating of 114.2 on 59 targets before being shipped to Carolina, according to Football Reference.

Kansas City Chiefs

Best pick: Patrick Mahomes. This is an obvious one. The Chiefs traded up to No. 10 to select Mahomes in the 2017 NFL Draft, and the rest is history. After spending most of his rookie campaign backing up Alex Smith, Mahomes became QB1 in his sophomore year and threw 50 touchdowns en route to being named MVP. He's since led Kansas City to three Super Bowl titles and established himself as an all-time great. The three-time Super Bowl MVP has an absurd regular-season record of 74-22 and is 15-3 in the playoffs.

Worst pick: Breeland Speaks. A former second-round pick, Speaks was the first player taken by Kansas City in 2018 at No. 46. The Ole Miss product was decent while playing a limited number of snaps as a rookie. But he then missed the entire 2019 season because of an injury and a four-game suspension before the Chiefs released him prior to the 2020 campaign.

Las Vegas Raiders

Best pick: Maxx Crosby. Khalil Mack boasts the most decorated career among players drafted by the Raiders in the last decade. However, he only played four seasons with them. Crosby has become a star despite being a fourth-round pick. The Eastern Michigan product, who went 106th overall in 2019, has topped double-digit sacks in three of his five NFL seasons and led the league in tackles for loss in each of the last two years. A three-time Pro Bowler and two-time second-team All-Pro, Crosby is one of football's most complete and explosive edge rushers.

Chris Unger / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Worst pick: Clelin Ferrell. The Raiders have arguably been the league's worst team at finding first-round talent, so it was hard to pick one bad selection. Ferrell was the 2019 fourth overall pick. He played 58 games for the club, and though other recent Raiders first-rounders didn't come close to making that many appearances, none were taken in the top 10 like the former Clemson pass-rusher. To make it worse, Pro Bowl edge rushers Josh Allen (seventh overall) and Brian Burns (16th overall) were called shortly after Ferrell, who never had more than five sacks in a season for Las Vegas.

Los Angeles Chargers

Best pick: Justin Herbert. This came down to Herbert and Joey Bosa, but the star quarterback has an advantage thanks to his promising future. The No. 6 pick in 2020, Herbert set several rookie records and earned Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. His 114 career touchdown passes rank fourth in the NFL over the past four seasons. Granted, there's a lot of pressure on him to deliver moving forward after two relatively down years, but few passers are as skilled as the 26-year-old.

Worst pick: Kenneth Murray. With Murray, Jerry Tillery, and Forrest Lamp in their draft history, picking L.A.'s worst selection wasn't easy. But the Chargers traded a pair of Day 2 picks to go up in the 2020 draft and take Murray 23rd overall in the same class as Herbert. Those picks were later used by New England on starting defensive back Kyle Dugger (37th overall) and by Baltimore on All-Pro defensive lineman Justin Madubuike (71st overall). Meanwhile, Murray lacked consistency in the middle of Los Angeles' defense. The Chargers declined the fifth-year option on the linebacker's contract in 2023 and let him sign elsewhere in free agency this year.

Miami Dolphins

Best pick: Xavien Howard. A second-round pick in 2016, Howard is one of few players drafted by the Dolphins over the last decade who exceeded expectations and became a franchise cornerstone. The four-time Pro Bowler - who was released by Miami this year after eight seasons - earned two All-Pro selections and led the league in interceptions twice in his career. His 29 picks and 95 pass breakups rank second and fourth, respectively, in the NFL since 2016.

Worst pick: Charles Harris. This came down to edge rusher Harris or corner Noah Igbinoghene. But the former was a higher overall selection (22nd versus 30th), and Miami passed on All-Pro edge T.J. Watt to choose Harris. The Missouri product played only three seasons and had 3.5 sacks in Miami before being traded to Atlanta for a seventh-round selection.

New England Patriots

Best pick: James White. White retired in 2022 after eight seasons in New England with three championships under his belt. A running back with premier pass-catching ability, the 2014 fourth-round pick was one of Tom Brady's favorite weapons and is mostly known for his spectacular performance in Super Bowl LI when he set single-game Super Bowl records for catches (14) and points scored (20). The Wisconsin product played hero in that Big Game by scoring a walk-off touchdown in overtime.

Worst pick: N'Keal Harry. The Patriots took Harry 32nd overall in 2019, and they have to regret that pick - as they probably do with most of their first-rounders under Bill Belichick. Seven wide receivers drafted after Harry in 2019 earned at least one Pro Bowl selection. Meanwhile, the Arizona State product averaged only 19 catches, 200 yards, and one touchdown per year in three seasons in New England before being traded.

New York Jets

Best pick: Quinnen Williams. This was a close call between Williams and Sauce Gardner, but the former gets the nod for being with the team for five seasons against Gardner's two. Williams has exceeded the high expectations around him as the 2019 third overall pick and was rewarded with a four-year, $96-million extension last year. A complete and disruptive interior defensive lineman, the Alabama product claimed a pair of Pro Bowl berths and a first-team All-Pro selection while racking up 17.5 sacks and 60 pressures over the last two seasons, according to Football Reference.

Worst pick: Zach Wilson. Between Wilson, Sam Darnold, and Christian Hackenberg, N.Y. hasn't had any success drafting QBs. Hackenberg never played a game for the team but was only a second-rounder in 2016. Darnold joined after the Jets traded up three spots to draft him at No. 3 in 2018, but at least the club got a Day 2 pick in return after trading him to Carolina three years later. Meanwhile, Wilson was a colossal disappointment as the second overall pick in 2021. Originally viewed as a top prospect, the BYU product threw for 23 touchdowns against 25 interceptions while completing just 57% of his passes in three seasons. The Jets - who went 12-21 with Wilson under center - recently traded the 24-year-old to Denver.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Best pick: T.J. Watt. Pittsburgh landing Watt 30th overall in 2017 is one of the best picks of the last decade. Since entering the league, the Wisconsin product has amassed an NFL-high 96.5 sacks while earning four first-team All-Pro nods. He's also claimed one Defensive Player of the Year honor and ranked in the top three for that award on three other occasions. There just hasn't been a more productive edge rusher than Watt, who's led the league in sacks in three of the last four seasons and tied a single-season record with 22.5 sacks in 2021.

Michael Owens / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Worst pick: Devin Bush. Artie Burns and Kenny Pickett were also considered, but the fact that the Steelers moved up 10 spots and gave up first-, second-, and third-round selections to draft an off-ball linebacker at No. 10 in 2019 makes the Bush pick a lot worse. The Michigan product stood out as a rookie, but after sustaining a torn ACL in Year 2, he lacked consistency and eventually had the fifth-year option on his rookie deal declined.

Tennessee Titans

Best pick: Derrick Henry. Turning a second-round pick into one of the greatest players in team history sounds like a good deal. Drafted at No. 45 in 2016, Henry didn't break out until his third season. The Alabama product then went on to become the sport's most dominant running back for years. A four-time Pro Bowler, he's led the league in yards and touchdowns on the ground twice and is just one of eight NFL players to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season. The 30-year-old, who joined Baltimore this year, ranks second in Titans history with 9,502 rushing yards and first with 90 rushing TDs.

Worst pick: Isaiah Wilson. Once a dominant offensive tackle at Georgia, Wilson appeared in just one game in the NFL for Tennessee after being drafted 29th overall in 2020. He left football due to several issues, including a DUI arrest, violation of team rules, and multiple suspensions. He's arguably the greatest bust in Titans history.

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox