The Most Impressive Performers from Each of the Last Five NFL Drafts

The close season is a notoriously painful time for football fans. Admittedly, in 2023, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has done his utmost to fill the giant void that the NFL leaves when it takes its annual hiatus, and his XFL has at least softened the blow at a lack of football. However, the fall and the return of elite footballing action still feels like light years away. 

At the end of April however, 2023’s installment of the NFL Draft took place and ensured that football was front and center of the American sporting landscape. Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young was unsurprisingly selected as the first overall pick by the Carolina Panthers, and he will be hoping to fill the rather large shoes of Cam Newton, who has still not truly been replaced since he led the franchise to its most recent Super Bowl appearance in 2015. The Houston Texans then shocked everyone as they sealed the second and third overall picks, drafting quarterback CJ Stroud and linebacker Will Anderson Jr. 

For sports fans, the NFL draft is an exciting time of year. The hope and anticipation of new talent entering the league is always high, however, the past is still very prevalent when it comes to next seasons betting odds. Bovada’s NFL lines and futures currently make the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs the favorites for the Lombardi once again this season, the trophy they won so impressively at State Farm Stadium last season. 

2022: Brock Purdy

If we’d written this article this time last year, there is no way that we would have ever thought Brock Purdy would make an appearance. The former Iowa State Coyotes quarterback was selected last overall in last year’s NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, thus earning the unwanted tag of Mr. Irrelevant. However, as the 2022 NFL campaign progressed, Purdy proved to be as relevant as they come. 

Following injuries to both first and second-choice quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance, Purdy was charged with leading the Levi’s Stadium outfit, and he didn’t disappoint. With Mr. Irrelevant at the helm, the 49ers went 5-0 at the end of the regular season and finished second overall in the NFC and sealing their spot in the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. There, they would defeat the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys to secure a spot in the NFC Championship game. 

Unfortunately, there they would run into Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles, who ultimately proved to have too much for San Fran. To make matters worse, an injury to Purdy meant that they had to turn to their fourth-choice quarterback and defeat became inevitable at that point. 

As a quarterback, Purdy has shown incredible accuracy, decision-making skills, and athleticism. He has excellent pocket awareness and can make plays both with his arm and legs. Purdy has the potential to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league with more experience and development.

2021: Ja’Marr Chase

The Cincinnati Bengals selected Ja’Marr Chase with the fifth overall choice in the 2021 NFL Draft. In his first season, Chase has already had an impact on the field, establishing himself as a dependable receiver and guiding the Bengals to their second consecutive AFC Championship game. He can often elude defenders thanks to his quickness, agility, and capable hands. Chase’s potential is evident in his capacity to make significant receptions in pressure-filled situations, and he is on track for a bright future as one of the league’s top receivers.

2020: Joe Burrow 

Joe Burrow was chosen as the first overall pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2020 NFL draft, and he quickly established himself as a star. Burrow’s poise and accuracy led him to break several records on his way to the Heisman Trophy and national championship. He has thrown for over 4000 yards and 13 touchdowns since joining the Bengals. 

In his maiden campaign in Cincy, he led the Bengals to their first Super Bowl in 30 years. Last season, he led them to a second consecutive AFC Championship game, defeating the Lombardi Trophy favorite Buffalo Bills on the way. In the end, however, Patrick Mahomes and his eventual champion Kansas City Chiefs gained their revenge over the Bengals, defeating them en route to Super Bowl glory. 

2019: Nick Bosa 

Nick Bosa was taken by the San Francisco 49ers as the second overall choice in the 2019 NFL Draft. Since his rookie season, the former Ohio State star has dominated, highlighting his power and dexterity as a defensive end. He has been an essential member of the 49ers, helping them win the NFC Championship game last term and the Super Bowl in his maiden season. The 25-year-old is already regarded as one of the league’s top defensive players and his future promises to be a bright one. 

2018: Josh Allen 

Josh Allen was chosen seventh overall by the Buffalo Bills during the 2018 NFL draft. Allen’s combination of athleticism and arm strength has propelled him to remarkable success on the field. He has thrown for over 11000 yards and 80 touchdowns in his career so far. Allen has also been a threat on the ground, with over 1500 rushing yards and 25 rushing touchdowns. 

A first Super Bowl appearance since those four consecutive Big Game losses in the 1990s is surely only just around the corner for the Bills with Allen at the helm. However, they still need to get over their fear of intense matches, as was displayed in last season’s playoffs when they were routed by Joe Burrow’s Bengals on home turf in the Divisional Round.