Which Picks Perform the Best in the NFL Draft?

Which Picks Perform the Best in the NFL Draft? article feature image

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Draft week is finally here. The first round starts on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. The Cleveland Browns are on the clock and despite finishing last season winless, there is hope for the franchise.


The Browns have the No. 1 and No. 4 picks in the draft as well as three selections in the second round. With that much draft capital Cleveland has a good chance of finding at least one Pro Bowler, right?

To answer this question we looked at every draft since 2000 and tallied the number of Pro Bowlers and 1st Team All-Pro selections by round using Pro-Football Reference. Here is how the draft shakes out:

As you would expect, first round draft picks have generated the most Pro Bowlers. Since 2000, there have been 572 picks made in the first round, 213 of them have been invited to the Pro Bowl. With fewer than 40% of Round 1 picks reaching the Pro Bowl, Browns fans might consider it a win if the team finds two starters, let alone a pair of Pro Bowlers.

The second round has produced a lot of great players in the last decade: Drew Brees, LeSean McCoy, Rob Gronkowski and LeVeon Bell just to name a few. Yet, compared to the first round there is a clear drop off in talent. Out of 571 players, only 91 (16.0%) have managed to reach a Pro Bowl and even fewer (27 players) have been honored as 1st Team All-Pros.

The overall success of players continues to decline as the draft proceeds. In total, 153 players selected in the third round of later have earned a Pro Bowl nod, fewer than first round alone.

The NFL Draft is designed to give the league’s worst teams the best chance of drafting elite talent. Cleveland will have an opportunity starting Thursday and with five selections in the first 64 picks, the Browns are positioned to find Pro Bowl talent.