NFL’s Top 10 Value-Based Draft Picks of the Last Decade

Feb 7, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) reacts after loosing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 NFL Draft transpires in one week, and some of the event’s best players will be plucked in the 4th Round or later. There will not be droves of such men, but one or two will likely dribble out of the class to shine.

These 10 players to follow were drafted between 2010 and 2020. The criteria is “Approximate Value,” defined by It’s a stat that comprises a player’s general contribution to his team. The players are ranked in ascending order, with #1 as the best value of the decade.

This list of players is not based on sheer talent. Longevity is more important (for these purposes) than a player’s sizzle, speed, or “small” sample size.

10. Tyreek Hill (KC, 2016 | 5th Round)

This is the first example of longevity over talent. Hill would arguably lead the rankings altogether if this was a talent contest. Instead, think about the contributors as long-term merchants of impact.

Hill has scored 47 receiving touchdowns in 74 games. And most of them are electric transactions, riddled with speed and pizzaz. That’s the seventh-most receiving touchdowns ever by a player through 74 career games. 

To reiterate, if this same criterion is applied in rankings like these five years from now — Hill will probably be the best of the best.

9. Dak Prescott (DAL, 2016 | 4th Round)

A 4th-round gem, Prescott has hoisted himself to the categorization of a Top 10 NFL quarterback. He was stifled by a nasty injury in 2020, but he was awarded a juicy contract a couple of months ago. He is the future of Dallas Cowboys, and they will go as far as Prescott carries the franchise. 

Prescott’s 106 touchdown passes through 69 career starts is the 21st-most of all time (through 69 starts).

8. Everson Griffen (MIN, 2010 | 4th Round)

This is the first recipient amid these rankings that benefits from longevity. Drafted at the turn of the decade by the Vikings, Griffen made his presence known in year three. It was 2012, the same season the Griffen’s teammate, Adrian Peterson, won the MVP award — the last non-quarterback to do so. 

Of all players to “start” a career through 161 games, Griffen’s 80.5 sacks is the 62nd-most. It’s the same number that Warren Sapp tallied through 161 games.

7. K.J. Wright (SEA, 2011 | 4th Round)

Perhaps the most unsung personalities inside these rankings, Wright has been a tackling machine for the Seahawks during the last 10 years. He entered the pros the year before Russell Wilson and has served as his defensive running-mate ever since — even when the rest of the Legion of Boom faded away. 

Wright was picked for Pro Bowl recognition once in 2016.

6. Jason Kelce (PHI, 2011 | 6th Round)

Brother to Travis in Kansas City, Kelce has been one of [if not] the best centers in football during the decade. Kelce is a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time First-Team All-Pro. He won a Super Bowl with the Eagles in 2017. Durability is paramount for Kelce — he hasn’t missed a game since 2014. 

At age 32 in 2020, he hovered around a 70 Pro Football Focus grade, so his performance decline has not truly set in with age. 

5. Kirk Cousins (WAS, 2012 | 4th Round)

Just like Prescott, Cousins is another 4th-Round product. He departed the nation’s capital in 2017 via free agency, signing with the Vikings. Since then, Cousins has dragged with him quarterback stability to Minnesota — a process largely unfamiliar to the franchise. 

All told, Cousins has started 104 games. In his first 104 starts, he has authored 186 touchdown passes — sixth-most ever by a quarterback through the first 104 starts of his career. 

4. David Bakhtiari (GB, 2013 | 4th Round)

Bakhtiari is the gold standard for teams that “wait” until later rounds to find productive offensive linemen. The Packer has written an epic novel on it. He’s been recognized for five All-Pro awards and three Pro Bowls (as backward as that sounds).

When the Packers lost him late in the 2020 playoffs to injury — so went the team’s playoff aspirations.

3. Antonio Brown (PIT, 2010 | 6th Round)

His career went completely pear-shaped when he slipped out of the Steel City, but before that, Brown was spectacular. Brown has reached seven Pro Bowls, and that number could have been even more robust if his antics didn’t sideline his career.

Brown conjoined his talents with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020, securing an elusive Super Bowl ring that he did not find in Pittsburgh. 

2. Geno Atkins (CIN, 2010 | 4th Round)

That 2010 draft was legendary for value-based draft picks. Griffen, Brown, and Atkins. 

Like Brown, Atkins is a free agent. The three-technique defensive tackle is presumably waiting until after the draft to find a new home. He’s reached more Pro Bowls than any other player on this list with eight. And that’s with two First-Team All-Pro accolades to boot. 

Ironically, Atkins and the aforementioned Griffen have both played in 161 career games.

1. Richard Sherman (SEA, 2011 | 5th Round)

The top honor resides with Sherman — another contemporary free agent. K.J. Wright and Sherman became Seahawks within hours of each other and won a Super Bowl about two and a half years later.

Sherman was the only defensive back to enter the Top 10 of these rankings. Five times voters have awarded him Pro Bowl stature, as well as three First-Team All-Pro desginations. Since entering the NFL, Richard Sherman leads the business in interceptions (36). 

For curious minds, the men just beyond the Top 10 in this metric: Stefon Diggs (MIN), Ben Jones (HOU), and Lawerence Guy (GB)