The Difference Between Drafting High And Drafting Well

There was a lot of teeth-gnashing by some people who are upset that the Packers had the gall to win some games towards the end of the 2018 season and damage their precious draft position, knocking them all the way down to 12.

I almost always have the same response: It’s not about drafting high, it’s about drafting well.

Sure, you can look back and see all the 9, 10, and 11 overall picks that the poor team picking at 12 missed out on every year, but 12 is still a high pick and, no matter where you pick, there is always a good player on the board.

You can pick really high and still strike out, but if you draft well, you’ll always be good.

To emphasize this point, I looked back at the last decade of NFL drafts to study the number 12 overall pick. I looked at who was actually taken and compared it to who they could have taken.

The results kind of speak for themselves.

* denotes Pro Bowler

Actual Pick: Vita Vea
Could Have Had: Derwin James*, Jaire Alexander

Actual Pick: DeShaun Watson*
Could Have Had: Um, DeShaun Watson* or, if you prefer, TJ Watt

Actual Pick: Sheldon Rankins
Could Have Had: Keanu Neal*, Kenny Clark, Michael Thomas*

Actual Pick: Danny Shelton
Could Have Had: Melvin Gordon*, Marcus Peters*, Byron Jones*, Landon Collins*

Actual Pick: Odell Beckham*
Could Have Had: Aaron Donald*, Kyle Fuller*

Actual Pick: DJ Hayden
Could Have Had: Xavier Rhodes*, Sheldon Richardson*, DeAndre Hopkins*, Kyle Long*

Actual Pick: Fletcher Cox*
Could Have Had: Chandler Jones*, Harrison Smith*

Actual Pick: Christian Ponder (editor’s note: Ha ha!)
Could Have Had: Robert Quinn*, Mike Pouncey*, Ryan Kerrigan* (these three Pro Bowlers were picks 14, 15, and 16)

Actual Pick: Ryan Matthews*
Could Have Had: Earl Thomas*, Jason Pierre-Paul*, Rob Gronkowski*

Actual Pick: Knowshon Moreno
Could Have Had: Clay Matthews*, Brian Orakpo*, Malcom Jenkins*, Brian Cushing*, LeSean McCoy*

So, sometimes the team picking at 12 gets a great pick and sometimes they don’t, but that doesn’t mean that we doomed ourselves to a shot in the dark because we didn’t lose enough to secure the number 1 pick.

Look back and you’ll see there was always a stud game-changer sitting there waiting to be drafted at 12.




There are cornerbacks, safeties, pass rushers, defensive linemen, running backs, quarterbacks, it’s a f#cking goldmine at 12!

All we have to do is take the right guy.

It’s not about drafting high, it’s about drafting well.


Want to really get deeper into understanding the draft?

Want to explore it on a level that you just can’t get into in tweets and short articles?

You can get even deeper into understanding draft strategy with our new book (rated a #1 New Release on Amazon): A Fan’s Guide To Understanding The NFL Draft: Strategies, Tactics, And Case Studies For Building A Professional Football Team

Available in ebook and paperback – and free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers!

If you don’t have Kindle Unlimited, you can get a free trial of Kindle Unlimited here!

Don’t just watch the draft – understand it and learn why GMs make the moves they do.


Check out our PFTW 2020 Mock Draft Archive to see how other scenarios played out!

Check out Packers Draft Central 2020 for all our 2020 NFL Draft coverage!


2 thoughts on “The Difference Between Drafting High And Drafting Well”

  1. Your premise is a bit off. You talk about had the Packers lost more games in 2018, they would have improved their draft position. Then you go on to talk about players missed out on after the #12 spot.

    Shouldn’t you be talking about players missed out on below the #12 spot? I.E. the players that the #3 pick in the draft could have picked.

    1. My point is that even though people complained about losing games and dropping down in the order, it didn’t matter because there were still a lot of quality guys available. Where you draft matters a lot less than how well you draft.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *