November 30, 2023

Top IDP Draft Classes inside the 1st 10 picks

7 min read

Top IDP Draft Classes inside the 1st 10 picks

By Joe Goodwin


Full Disclosure, I must compliment Pro Football Focus for motivating me to research/write this article. On my social media feed, PFF would list the Top 10 draft picks for a given year.  I would breeze past them, just taking a cursory glance.

Then, I saw the 2016 Top Ten draft pick group and said to myself, “Dang, that was an incredible year for defensive players!”  So, that got me thinking about what year’s Top Ten draft picks were the best for IDP players.


Any guesses yet?

Some of the results may surprise you.


I awarded one point to a player who was in the top 12 of their position group in IDP points, three points if they were in the top 6, and 5 points if they were first.  I then added up the total points for the group and then divided by the number of years they have played, then by the number of players in the group.

I didn’t want the groups drafted 8 years ago to have a distinct advantage over the groups drafted in the last few years just because they have played longer and have had more time to accrue points.  I wanted each draft group to have an equal chance of demonstrating their true IDP value by averaging those points over the number of players and years.


As we head into the 2023 draft, will a group of Will Anderson, Jalen Carter, Christian Gonzalez, and Tyree Wilson make an instant impact?  Only time will tell the truth…


So, we look into the Top 10 defensive draft groups over the last 10 years to see their impact as IDP contributors. 


#10. 2021 (0 points)

Jaycee Horn, Patrick Surtain 

This draft grouping does not boast any players that are currently threatening to be in the top 12 of defensive backs in IDP.   The overall scoring was going to be tough with only two players contributing, but this group couldn’t even get a single point. Patrick Surtain is certainly a good player but only ranked as the 88th best IDP DB.  After an injury-filled rookie season, Jaycee had modest results last year.  His 55 tackles and 3 interceptions were solid.  However, Horn nor Surtain project to be anything other than depth players in IDP unless they make some significant improvements in the areas of takeaways and tackles.


#9. 2022 (0 points)

Travon Walker, Aiden Hutchinson, Derek Stingley, Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Kayvon Thibodeaux

Although this group currently has zero points, it will not be long before this group has a few players that are consistently ranking in the top 12 of their respective positions.  Ahmad Gardner was last year’s defensive rookie of the year and Aiden Hutchinson was named rookie of the year. Their ranking is strictly based on their numbers, but the tiebreaker was based on their future prospects.  When I revisit this group next year, I would anticipate at least 2 players entering the conversation of one of the top 12 in their position group.  Aiden Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux are both ranked inside the preseason top 12 at DE.  Will they remain there at the end of the season?


#8. 2013 (3 points; 0.07 score)

Dion Jordan, Ezekial Ansah, Barkevious Mingo, Dee Milliner

Ezekial Ansah proved to be a solid DE during his career in the NFL.  In the years of 2015 and 2017, he was one of the most productive DE’s in IDP.  In 2015, Ansah was in the top 6.  In 2017, he fell just outside the top 12, but was very productive.  However, that production from Ansah was short-lived and his career ended in 2020.  Dion Jordan never met the expectations of his lofty draft position and failed to make any IDP impact.  Although Mingo was a solid NFL player at times, he wasn’t able to secure enough of a role on the 6 different teams he was on to be fantasy relevant.  All of the players have since retired from the NFL and will not be adding to their total.  


#7.2020 (3 points; 0.16 score)

Chase Young, Jeff Okudah, Derrick Brown, Isaiah Simmons, CJ Henderson, Jedrick Wills

This is a particular group I was surprised did not have more top 12 IDP players. All 3 points belong to Chase Young for his 2020 season.  Jeff Okudah has been a disappointment after being a top 10 selection and was recently traded to the Falcons for a 5th round pick.  Isaiah Simmons and Derrick Brown are both very good players and hope to be IDP relevant soon.  CJ Henderson and Jedrick Wills are both trying to carve out a niche in the NFL, but do not appear to challenge to be IDP viable.


#6. 2014 (8 points; 0.22 score)

Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack, Justin Gilbert, Anthony Barr

Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack have both been exceptionally good football players and have notched multiple years inside the Top 12.  However, those years have not occurred recently.  Justin Gilbert quickly learned that the NFL stands for “Not For Long” as he only made it 3 years in the league.  Anthony Barr was solid, but never fully reached the level of elite.  His IDP impact was only that of a backup.  This group has hit its ceiling in fantasy and will continue to drop down this list as younger groups continue their ascension into IDP relevance.


#5. 2015 (5 points; 0.238 score)

Dante Fowler, Leonard Williams, Vic Beasley

Dante Fowler and Vic Beasley have each recorded a season of being in the top 12 on IDP. However, they have not been able to maintain that level of consistency in IDP.  This group has most likely seen its best days.  I was surprised to see Leonard Williams never recorded a top 12 season.  In 2020, Williams had 57 tackles and 11.5 sacks and in 2021, Williams had 81 tackles with 6.5 sacks.  In both seasons, Leonard Williams posted solid numbers, just not enough to break into the top 12.  Similarly to the 2014 group, this draft class will be moving down the rankings as the younger groups continue to develop.


#4. 2016 (16 points; 0.457 score)

Joey Bosa, Jalen Ramsey, DeForest Buckner, Leonard Floyd, Eli Apple

This group is headlined by Joey Bosa, Jalen Ramsey and DeForest Buckner. All three have had multiple years of being in the IDP top 12 at their position groups.  Leonard Floyd has been impacted greatly by his position being listed as LB in IDP, when he is really an edge. He just doesn't rack up enough tackles to be mentioned in the top tier of linebackers.  Many fantasy leagues are moving away from DE and calling it EDGE. Unfortunately, Floyd doesn't get that benefit, but he has been a super productive edge player averaging 9 sacks per game over the last 2 years.  Eli Apple has been a serviceable backup IDP player, but lacks interceptions to ascend into the upper tier of the his position group.


#3. 2019 (16 points; 0.57 score)

Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams, Clelin Ferrel, Devin White, Josh Allen, Ed Oliver, Devin Bush

This group was headlined by Nick Bosa (7 points) and Devin White (6 points).  Josh Allen has also notched a top 6 season in 2021.  Devin Bush is a solid NFL player, but does not accumulate enough overall stats to be a true IDP starter.  Quinnen Williams is the one player on this list that hasn’t appeared in the top 12 but that is trending in that direction in the future; he is currently projected to finish in the top 12 at DL in 2023. To this point, Clelin Ferrell has been a bust. This group has a lot of upside and should continue to move up this list with Bosa and Devin White anchoring the group with Williams and Allen having the potential to crash the party.


#2. 2018 (10 points; .667 score)

Denzel Ward, Bradley Chubb, Roquan Smith

This group is simple to analyze: it's all on Roquan!  Roquan has all 10 of the group’s points.  Smith has been a top 6 linebacker in IDP for the past 3 years. Denzel Ward is a solid player who was recently named to the “Top 100” by the NFL in the 2022 season but is not really ideal for IDP.  Bradley Chubb has seemingly only played every other season as injuries have been his biggest obstacle to fantasy relevance.  If Chubb can put together similar sack numbers and add more tackles for loss, he could join Roquan as a point earner for this draft group.  Until then, this group’s success hinges on how long Roquan can continue to be a top tier IDP player.


#1. 2017 (19 points; 1.056 score)

Myles Garrett, Solomon Thomas, Jamal Adams

This group contains two top tier IDP players in Myles Garrett and Jamal Adams.  For the past 3 years, Myles Garrett has been a top 6 IDP DE and appears ready to continue that trend this season.  Jamal Adams was the #1 DB in 2018 but has battled injuries during his career and only played in 1 game last year.  This group still has a few more productive years ahead, but may get caught by a few of the younger groups that are ascending. Although Soloman Thomas had some “blips” of success in his career, he is now just a rotational piece and is no longer relevant in IDP.


After completing this little exercise, I have come to realize that many defensive players drafted in the first 10 picks DO NOT end up as fantasy relevant players.  Only one draft group averaged over a point per person (2017) as the rest of the draft groups continue to improve and become defensive staples on their respective teams.

As the 2023 season approaches, the following players  are expected to be a top 12 IDP players at their positions: Myles Garrett, Joey Bosa, Roquan Smith, Nick Bosa, Devin White, Aiden Hutchinson, and Keyvon Thibodeaux.  Will these projections hold true and shake up these rankings?


My best guess is the 2019 group may end up being the best of the bunch as they have established themselves early with Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams, Devin White and Josh Allen all having top 12 potential heading into 2023 and beyond.


One thing is for certain, it doesn’t matter that a defensive player is drafted within the first 10 picks of the NFL draft, it only matters that wherever they go, they produce on the field.