The annual NFL Draft is one of the sporting calendar’s most highly anticipated and widely documented events that are featured on any yearly broadcast as it gives football fans a platform to witness the next line of college prospects who are set to sign up with their favorite team and the likely future faces of the league for the next generation of NFL fanfare to enjoy.
There may be no more important date on the NFL calendar than Draft Day as this is the culmination of all the hard work and dedication that the top college football recruits have endured throughout their span as a star athlete with any notable collegiate program as well as giving all the teams (who have a valid pick) a chance to select the next wave of talented youngsters who could become stalwarts of their franchise for the foreseeable future.
The Draft is considered to be a welcoming asset to all major US sporting divisions as it provides the worst ranked teams in the league with a chance to build up a new wave of talent that could have their club return to playoff contention within the next few years.
Most teams will often highlight the importance of the Draft as a way to showcase the developing talent that have on display and as a platform for some of the league’s less fortunate teams to gain some valuable media time during a rather challenging period of their recent history, especially for smaller market teams who are picking further up the board.
With the 2023 Draft now firmly in the books, these are some of the top Draft events of the past decade as well as the most notable draft day experiences:
- 2017 – The Bears passing on Mahomes:
One of the main reasons as to why the Draft garners so much yearly attention is due to the benefit of hindsight as teams may look back on certain blunders or opportunities that may have presented themselves on draft night that they wish they could go back and make amends.
In recent NFL history, there is no greater blunder than the Chicago Bears picking Mitchell Trubisky as their new starting Quarterback with the second overall pick ahead of Texas Tech superstar prospect Patrick Mahomes, who shockingly plummeted down to the Kansas City Chiefs at the 10th overall pick.
While it certainly was a disastrous move by the nine teams that passed on the chance to draft the best QB in the league today, the Bears were at particular fault as they desperately needed a QB to fill their long-void for a capable player at the spot.
Nowadays, Mahomes is a two-time Superbowl champion at just 27-years of age and has put Kansas City back on the map as the best football team in the nation and in the latest NFL lines, while Trubisky failed to rekindle any hope of championship aspirations in the Windy City and now finds himself as the backup QB on the Steelers.
- 2018 – Jackson gets picked with the final first round selection:
Heisman trophy winner QB Lamar Jackson was heavily questioned as a prospect that would be capable of playing out of the position despite two sublime years at Louisville, with the athletic speedster being more so praised for his physical gifts rather than his passing play.
With Lamar’s play often being criticized and undermined by NFL executives, it led to the once top 15 ranked draft pick to fall all the way to down to the final selection of the first round to the delight of the Baltimore Ravens.
Other QB prospects that were taken ahead of Jackson included Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen, with only the aforementioned Allen earning the plaudits from analysts years later as a prospect that well and truly surpassed his potential.
Jackson has since gone onto make the All-Pro first team and be named as the youngest ever QB to win the regular season MVP award after a stellar 2019 campaign, which has now pocketed him as the highest paid QB in NFL historyfollowing his 2023 extension.
- 2022 – AJ Brown is traded to the Eagles:
Draft night is often centered around the lively trades that could occur between different franchises, with the 2022 rendition being the focal point of a lobsided trade between the Tennessee Titans and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Brown was viewed as one of the league’s most highly talented Wide Receivers which made it all the more shocking that the AFC’s top seeded team would send their young stud packing to Philly for the 18th overall pick and a third-rounder.
The trade instantly sent shockwaves around the NFL as the Eagles returned back to the Superbowl at the conclusion of the resulting season, whilst the Titans infamously collapsed and lost the AFC South to their division rivals Jaguars on the final week of the 2022/23 regular season.
It remains to be one of the most baffling trades in recent NFL history and it arguably completely overshadowed a draft night that saw numerous future star names selected in the opening rounds.