We like to think that under general managers Ted Thompson and Ron Wolf, the Green Bay Packers have been one of the best teams at finding talent in the NFL Draft over the past few decades. If only there were some sort of numbers to back up that sentiment, however.
Well now there are, thanks to the Washington Post, who ran an analysis of every NFL Draft class going back to 1996. In this breakdown, the Post uses a version of Pro Football Reference's Approximate Value, but one that only addresses the value that a player contributed to the team that actually drafted him.
By that metric, the Packers have averaged a draft value of 14.86 points in each year since 1996, the third-highest mark in the NFL over that time span. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers (16.37) and Indianapolis Colts (15.27) rank higher.
One thing that is worth noting about the top five teams (which also include the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots) is that each franchise has drafted a quarterback who ended up winning at least one Super Bowl with their team in that span.
Certainly, the Packers have had their share of misses, and teams' top draft busts are displayed in this analysis. The Packers are particularly noted for blowing their first-round picks in 1996 (OT John Michels), 2001 (DE Jamal Reynolds), and 2007 (DT Justin Harrell), who combined for a total career draft value of 14 points. But what is also fascinating is the breakdown of where the Packers have chosen their most-valuable players over the last 20 years.
Aaron Rodgers is of course the team's most valuable draft pick, earning a career value of 112 (so far) after being selected 24th overall. This puts him firmly in WP's "legendary" category. However, the next four highest-valued players are spread out all over the draft. Those are Donald Driver (Round 7, #213 overall, Draft Value of 76), Josh Sitton (R4, #135, DV 74), Chad Clifton (R2, #44, DV 72), and Clay Matthews (R1, #26, DV 70).
Click over here for more details on the WP's draft discussion.