The formula I used: ([(number of pro bowls, AP All pro 1st and 2nd teams made)+1]/number of drafts examined(11)) multiplied by the total number of games. An explanation: Pro bowl appearances and AP All pro awards are the best rough comparison for every player(the Pro bowl being more a beauty contest, but good players get in eventually and the AP generally rewards the best of the best[for example, Ryan Clady, who was fantastic as a rookie but didn’t make Hawaii was the all pro 2nd team LT]). Dividing it by the number of drafts(11) and number of games is another stat which, as I went through the players, shows who really was a decent player or not. Bad draft picks who just can’t play get hustled out of the league quickly(something that is made clear from the number of games that top draft pick busts end up playing), even high draft pick busts who could fill some sort of role would get 2nd/3rd chances to contribute somewhere.
There is an obvious criticism of this analysis, which is that bad teams pick higher so that the high draft picks are being set up essentially for failure on talent poor or badly coached teams. My response to that is that during the years 1999-2009, over 36% of the first round picks were traded between the teams. That’s enough turnover in the pick order to render this handicap moot. Also mitigating this criticism is the gap in talent between the top picks and the bottom picks even in the first round. Some of this value is perception over reality, but looking at the difference in the pro bowls/AP All Pro 1st/2nd teams made between the top half of the draft and the bottom half of the draft bears out that the talent difference even just in the first round is based on reality(obviously since the top picks have more money/hopes invested in them, people tend to remember those busts much more than some terrible pick at #26).
And a quick note, if I made any errors with the pro bowls/AP All pro teams, I can change the data set fairly easily.
Before I show the data and the top/bottom 10 draft pick slots, some context. The best any draft slot could do(each player played the maximum number of games and made the maximum number of Pro bowls/AP All pro teams possible) was 12768.
The data: Link
Top 10 1st round draft pick slots:
1. #11 overall: 2352. Prominent picks: Dwight Freeney, DeMarcus Ware, Patrick Willis
2. #3 overall: 2143.64. Prominent picks: Chris Samuels, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Joe Thomas
3. #7 overall: 2022.73. Prominent picks: Champ Bailey, Adrian Peterson
4. #9 overall: 1952.27. Prominent picks: Kevin Williams, Brian Urlacher, John Henderson
5. #2 overall: 1817.64. Prominent picks: Julius Peppers, Donovan McNabb, Lavar Arrington
6. #16 overall: 1793.18. Prominent picks: Troy Polamalu, Julian Peterson, Jevon Kearse
7. #5 overall: 1647.54. Prominent picks: Ladainian Tomlinson, Sean Taylor, Ricky Williams
8. #24 overall: 1363.64. Prominent picks: Ed Reed, Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson
9. #14 overall: 1312.36. Prominent picks: Jeremy Shockey, Darrelle Revis, Tommie Harris
10. #17 overall: 1285.82. Prominent picks: Steve Hutchinson
Bottom 10 1st round draft pick slots:
1. #28 overall: 58.18. Notable busts: Andy Katzenmoyer, Andre Woolfolk
2. #22 overall: 106.18. Notable busts: Chris McIntosh, Rex Grossman, Brady Quinn, JP Losman
3. #20 overall: 131.82. Notable busts: Stocker McDougle, Marcus Spears, Kenechi Udeze
4. #18 overall: 138.18. Notable busts: Erasmus James, Bobby Carpenter
5. #29 overall: 295.45. Notable busts: Dimitrius Underwood, R Jay Soward…need I say more?
6. #26 overall: 316.36. Notable busts: Chris Perry, Erik Flowers, John McCargo
7. #21 overall: 350.45. Notable busts: Sylvester Morris, Matt Jones, Laurence Maroney
8. #25 overall: 403.64. Notable busts: Freddie Mitchell, Ahmad Carroll, William Joseph
9. #23 overall: 444.18. Notable busts: Marcus Tubbs, Rashard Anderson, Fabian Washington
10. #15 overall: 480.45. Notable busts: Tye Hill, Jerome McDougle, Rod Gardner