Whether it's in the first round or the sixth round, finding value above expectation in the NFL draft can significantly alter the landscape of a franchise. It is easier to do that with a wealth of draft capital, of course, but it's important how much a team can get from its draft picks relative to where they were taken rather than just blindly adding together all the production from the class.
If Player X and Player Y have similar seasons, the production from Player Y, taken in the sixth round, is much more valuable than the production a team gets from first-round-pick Player X.
With the help of Pro Football Focus' Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric, we ranked all 32 teams on the value of their rookie class over expectation given where each player was selected in the 2020 NFL draft.
Editor's note: This story originally published on Jan. 29, 2021.
Why they're ranked here: Quarterback Joe Burrow (No. 1 overall) finished the 2020 NFL season as the second-most valuable first-round rookie, while wide receiver Tee Higgins (No. 33 overall) ranked second among second-round selections. Both players far exceeded the production that was expected of them, and Burrow was on pace to be the most valuable rookie in the entire class this year before suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 11.