2022 NFL Season Preview: Building Teams via the Draft

Now that the 2022 NFL season is finally upon us and rosters are more or less finalized it is time to break down each teams 2022 roster to see how they have approached team building. Here we will look at how teams have fared in the NFL draft and UDFA process in building their teams. All tables are sortable if you click on the headers.

Homegrown Players

For the first big picture look we looked at every roster in the NFL and broke down their players into a “homegrown” or “non-homegrown” category. A homegrown player is defined as someone who was originally drafted by the team they are currently playing for or signed their first NFL contract with the team that they are currently playing for. This speaks to how well front offices have generally identified players that are a fit for their organization. We have the data both with and without the practice squads. Here is the breakdown for 2022.

TeamActive RosterPS Included
Cowboys81.4%76.3%
Ravens75.8%71.4%
Rams75.4%74.4%
Colts71.9%68.1%
Packers69.4%61.0%
Vikings67.8%66.2%
Eagles66.1%61.8%
Saints64.5%61.5%
Bills63.2%57.5%
49ers62.7%60.3%
Chargers62.7%63.5%
Patriots62.7%61.3%
Chiefs62.5%56.9%
Titans60.3%60.5%
Bengals58.7%53.2%
Browns58.1%56.6%
Giants57.4%53.2%
Lions57.1%57.7%
Buccaneers56.9%57.5%
Commanders56.5%56.4%
Jaguars56.1%57.7%
Panthers55.9%56.8%
Seahawks55.7%55.1%
Falcons55.6%56.4%
Broncos54.1%54.7%
Cardinals51.7%48.1%
Steelers50.8%45.8%
Raiders50.0%47.9%
Bears47.5%46.8%
Dolphins46.8%47.3%
Jets43.3%44.0%
Texans36.7%37.7%
NFL. Avg.59.2%57.3%

The NFL average in this category is about 59% on the active roster and 57% if we also include the practice squad. I’d consider any team over 65% to be a standout in this category and those under 52% to be a bit of a disaster. I do think it is worth pointing out that being very high in this category can also mean that the team is not focusing enough outside the organization (Dallas probably fits that billing this year) and maybe putting too much stock in their own talent, but generally teams that do feature their own picks are the far more stable teams. The lower range teams more often than not need all the stars to align to get it right. The positive for the Jets, Texans, Dolphins, Bears, and Steelers is that each does have a young QB that hope provides that alignment. It is harder when you don’t have that untapped potential.

Team Construction by Draft Round

Often you can get a glimpse as to how each team approaches valuing individual talent by looking at where every player on the roster comes from. For context here is the breakdown by round of the current NFL rosters, not including the practice squad.

Round% of players
UDFA26.4%
114.2%
212.4%
313.1%
410.4%
59.3%
68.2%
76.2%

This is a look that I enjoy taking every year because it does show the role that UDFA’s can have if they can land a job in the NFL. The pool of players is giant, but team’s do count on them. The big numbers of the top three rounds show why many look at the draft as a top 100 type of exercise as you need contributors from those three rounds to be successful. Here is how each team has developed their roster.

TeamUDFARound 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Round 6Round 7
Jets16.7%23.3%8.3%8.3%13.3%15.0%13.3%1.7%
Ravens24.2%19.4%8.1%17.7%21.0%4.8%3.2%1.6%
Saints38.7%19.4%16.1%14.5%3.2%1.6%1.6%4.8%
Panthers25.4%18.6%11.9%10.2%10.2%6.8%10.2%6.8%
Packers22.6%17.7%11.3%6.5%9.7%9.7%11.3%11.3%
Falcons36.5%17.5%11.1%11.1%7.9%9.5%4.8%1.6%
Lions34.9%17.5%6.3%12.7%11.1%7.9%6.3%3.2%
Buccaneers20.7%17.2%17.2%15.5%10.3%3.4%12.1%3.4%
Chargers35.6%16.9%8.5%8.5%6.8%8.5%10.2%5.1%
Cowboys18.6%16.9%10.2%16.9%13.6%8.5%10.2%5.1%
Steelers25.4%16.9%10.2%22.0%8.5%8.5%3.4%5.1%
Browns19.4%16.1%9.7%21.0%11.3%9.7%8.1%4.8%
49ers27.1%15.3%8.5%13.6%8.5%15.3%8.5%3.4%
Cardinals25.0%15.0%20.0%11.7%6.7%3.3%8.3%10.0%
Giants23.0%14.8%8.2%13.1%14.8%11.5%8.2%6.6%
Dolphins27.4%14.5%17.7%12.9%6.5%4.8%6.5%9.7%
Bills17.5%14.0%12.3%8.8%8.8%15.8%10.5%12.3%
Jaguars31.6%14.0%10.5%14.0%8.8%8.8%5.3%7.0%
Eagles25.4%13.6%13.6%8.5%15.3%3.4%16.9%3.4%
Texans26.7%13.3%6.7%20.0%10.0%15.0%8.3%0.0%
Commanders27.4%12.9%6.5%11.3%8.1%12.9%8.1%12.9%
Patriots22.0%11.9%13.6%13.6%8.5%13.6%10.2%6.8%
Vikings25.4%11.9%15.3%13.6%13.6%6.8%8.5%5.1%
Seahawks24.6%11.5%16.4%9.8%13.1%11.5%4.9%8.2%
Colts26.3%10.5%15.8%12.3%7.0%7.0%10.5%10.5%
Titans32.8%10.3%15.5%12.1%12.1%5.2%8.6%3.4%
Bears27.9%9.8%11.5%4.9%8.2%14.8%13.1%9.8%
Broncos34.4%9.8%11.5%16.4%8.2%11.5%4.9%3.3%
Bengals19.0%9.5%15.9%14.3%9.5%11.1%14.3%6.3%
Raiders31.0%8.6%12.1%10.3%17.2%13.8%1.7%5.2%
Chiefs19.6%7.1%23.2%17.9%8.9%10.7%5.4%7.1%
Rams29.5%6.6%13.1%14.8%11.5%6.6%4.9%13.1%

No Jets fan should be surprised at the Jets ranking here as they have done whatever they can to move up in the draft and acquire high picks while also signing free agents from other teams who once had a high draft grade. They rank 1st in first round picks and dead last in UDFA picks. Also not a surprise is the Rams ranking last in 1st round talent since they don’t really draft in the first round these days. The top UDFA teams are mainly teams with salary cap issues- the Saints, Lions, Falcons, and Titans all rank high. Those are the teams hoping to really strike it rich with those players.

Draft Retention: 2018-2022

Here is the breakdown of the success each team has had in retaining their draft picks from 2018 to 2022 by round. I also included the percent of UDFA’s that have been signed in that timeframe who are still on the team in 2022.

TEAMRound 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Round 6Round 7Draft TotalUDFA
Chiefs100.0%87.5%80.0%75.0%75.0%40.0%60.0%73.5%8.1%
Cowboys100.0%80.0%100.0%87.5%55.6%66.7%20.0%72.7%9.3%
Browns75.0%80.0%87.5%71.4%57.1%66.7%66.7%72.5%4.9%
Eagles75.0%83.3%66.7%83.3%33.3%66.7%66.7%70.6%11.1%
Giants87.5%75.0%62.5%83.3%71.4%80.0%33.3%70.5%4.3%
49ers100.0%75.0%71.4%66.7%85.7%44.4%50.0%69.2%11.9%
Chargers100.0%66.7%80.0%80.0%60.0%57.1%33.3%67.6%7.2%
Bills100.0%75.0%83.3%100.0%50.0%50.0%50.0%66.7%9.1%
Falcons100.0%100.0%80.0%57.1%66.7%16.7%0.0%66.7%7.5%
Lions100.0%60.0%100.0%80.0%60.0%20.0%33.3%66.7%12.7%
Rams100.0%100.0%75.0%40.0%42.9%53.8%66.7%12.8%
Seahawks100.0%83.3%75.0%75.0%62.5%40.0%20.0%65.0%6.4%
Colts100.0%81.8%100.0%50.0%42.9%44.4%57.1%64.4%11.1%
Dolphins85.7%100.0%100.0%50.0%33.3%33.3%33.3%63.9%6.0%
Steelers100.0%75.0%85.7%66.7%75.0%16.7%42.9%63.2%4.6%
Packers100.0%80.0%60.0%75.0%37.5%37.5%63.6%62.5%8.1%
Cardinals75.0%80.0%80.0%60.0%100.0%37.5%50.0%61.5%4.3%
Panthers100.0%80.0%60.0%66.7%40.0%57.1%33.3%61.5%10.2%
Bengals80.0%100.0%83.3%44.4%50.0%66.7%28.6%61.4%7.8%
Titans60.0%80.0%83.3%80.0%25.0%50.0%0.0%60.6%12.0%
Buccaneers100.0%75.0%83.3%80.0%40.0%50.0%0.0%60.5%5.0%
Commanders83.3%66.7%83.3%42.9%62.5%25.0%54.5%60.0%8.2%
Saints100.0%100.0%100.0%0.0%50.0%20.0%40.0%59.3%17.4%
Broncos75.0%83.3%66.7%80.0%62.5%16.7%28.6%57.8%7.2%
Ravens75.0%100.0%63.6%64.3%33.3%16.7%50.0%57.1%9.0%
Bears100.0%71.4%100.0%0.0%75.0%37.5%33.3%55.3%5.0%
Jets87.5%100.0%50.0%37.5%60.0%25.0%55.3%8.8%
Vikings66.7%100.0%57.1%66.7%33.3%50.0%30.0%53.6%5.6%
Patriots60.0%83.3%62.5%66.7%40.0%50.0%14.3%53.2%9.1%
Raiders57.1%33.3%50.0%66.7%60.0%0.0%40.0%52.6%12.7%
Jaguars75.0%60.0%57.1%50.0%60.0%0.0%60.0%52.4%7.7%
Texans100.0%40.0%50.0%50.0%60.0%33.3%0.0%48.5%4.8%
NFL. Avg87.7%79.9%77.0%63.5%54.9%39.3%37.0%62.3%8.4%

The important things to look at here really are the deviations from the NFL average. The Raiders, Patriots, Titans, and Vikings figures here should all be concerning at 20-30% below the league average in round 1. The Jets, Vikings, Patriots, Raiders, Jaguars, and Texans are all far enough under the overall expectation that you can’t feel great about the process that has been in place the last few years. The flipside is the Chiefs, Cowboys, Browns, and to a much lesser extend the Eagles and Giants. The Giants fit more into the “don’t have any choice but to keep them” category than doing anything too well. As for UDFA’s it’s a good thing to sign with the Saints, Rams, Raiders, Lions, Titans, 49ers, Eagles and Colts. Signing with the Giants, Cardinals, Steelers, Texans, and Browns may be a lost cause.

Youth Movement: 2018-2022

While it does not hold true of every position in the NFL, more often than not the top production from players comes early in their careers. Here is the breakdown by round of every teams roster broken down by players who started in the NFL no later than 2018.

TeamRound 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Round 6Round 7UDFATotalTop 3 Rounds
Chiefs5.4%14.3%12.5%5.4%8.9%5.4%5.4%16.1%73.2%32.1%
Steelers8.5%8.5%13.6%6.8%5.1%1.7%5.1%18.6%67.8%30.5%
Falcons11.1%7.9%11.1%6.3%6.3%3.2%1.6%23.8%71.4%30.2%
Bengals7.9%9.5%12.7%7.9%6.3%7.9%4.8%12.7%69.8%30.2%
Browns6.5%6.5%16.1%9.7%8.1%6.5%3.2%12.9%69.4%29.0%
Dolphins9.7%11.3%8.1%4.8%1.6%3.2%8.1%19.4%66.1%29.0%
Panthers13.6%10.2%5.1%8.5%3.4%8.5%5.1%15.3%69.5%28.8%
Lions11.1%6.3%11.1%7.9%6.3%4.8%3.2%30.2%81.0%28.6%
Colts3.5%15.8%8.8%5.3%7.0%10.5%8.8%15.8%75.4%28.1%
Giants11.5%4.9%11.5%9.8%11.5%6.6%4.9%16.4%77.0%27.9%
Vikings8.5%10.2%8.5%10.2%6.8%8.5%5.1%13.6%71.2%27.1%
Cowboys6.8%8.5%11.9%11.9%8.5%6.8%1.7%15.3%71.2%27.1%
Jaguars10.5%7.0%8.8%7.0%5.3%5.3%7.0%24.6%75.4%26.3%
Buccaneers6.9%10.3%8.6%6.9%3.4%5.2%0.0%13.8%55.2%25.9%
Ravens9.7%3.2%12.9%14.5%3.2%1.6%1.6%17.7%64.5%25.8%
Cardinals6.7%11.7%6.7%5.0%3.3%5.0%8.3%16.7%63.3%25.0%
Seahawks8.2%11.5%4.9%11.5%9.8%3.3%3.3%18.0%70.5%24.6%
49ers8.5%5.1%10.2%3.4%13.6%8.5%3.4%18.6%71.2%23.7%
Patriots5.1%10.2%8.5%6.8%6.8%8.5%1.7%11.9%59.3%23.7%
Jets11.7%5.0%6.7%10.0%10.0%11.7%1.7%11.7%68.3%23.3%
Broncos4.9%8.2%9.8%6.6%9.8%1.6%3.3%23.0%67.2%23.0%
Bills8.8%5.3%8.8%3.5%7.0%8.8%7.0%10.5%59.6%22.8%
Packers11.3%6.5%4.8%4.8%6.5%6.5%11.3%21.0%72.6%22.6%
Titans5.2%8.6%8.6%10.3%3.4%6.9%1.7%25.9%70.7%22.4%
Chargers11.9%3.4%6.8%6.8%6.8%8.5%5.1%18.6%67.8%22.0%
Texans5.0%5.0%11.7%5.0%13.3%5.0%0.0%13.3%58.3%21.7%
Bears6.6%9.8%4.9%1.6%13.1%8.2%6.6%19.7%70.5%21.3%
Eagles5.1%10.2%5.1%15.3%1.7%15.3%3.4%20.3%76.3%20.3%
Rams0.0%6.6%13.1%9.8%6.6%4.9%11.5%27.9%80.3%19.7%
Commanders8.1%3.2%8.1%4.8%8.1%4.8%11.3%16.1%64.5%19.4%
Saints8.1%4.8%6.5%1.6%1.6%1.6%3.2%30.6%58.1%19.4%
Raiders6.9%3.4%6.9%13.8%10.3%0.0%5.2%27.6%74.1%17.2%
NFL. Avg.7.9%7.9%9.2%7.6%7.0%6.1%4.8%18.7%69.1%25.0%

I think the two ways to look at this are players selected in the top three rounds of the draft and just the roster overall. The top 3 round selections probably give more of an upside potential for a team since the team will be focusing on players who should be entering the prime of their careers. Here we have the Chiefs at the top of the NFL followed by the Steelers, Falcons, Bengals, and Browns. Given how good Patrick Mahomes is this could be scary for the league if some of these players realize their potential. We saw how things came together last year for the Bengals and the Browns and Steeles could try to capitalize this year. This is probably the one positive for the Falcons this year. On the low end are the Raiders, Saints. Commanders, Rams, and Eagles. These are the teams that need their older players to maintain a high level of play or to get great performance from those deeper in the draft. This number should be concerning for Washington.

If we just look at the total some of the teams flip the script- namely the Rams (2nd overall) and Eagles (4th overall). While the higher end young talent may not be there they are not falling into the trap of just filling the roster with older minimum salary veterans, but instead focusing on players who may play a longer term role. The Lions lead the NFL here which could bode well for a few surprise breakout players. The Giants are high here as well which may leave them with a little hope.

The Bucs are at the bottom of the NFL here. Obviously, they have Brady and he is the GOAT but this is a team that may nosedive the minute Brady hangs them up. The Saints are 31st with just 58% of the roster starting their career no earlier than 2018. This is another bad situation for the long term. The Texans and Patriots are both low as are the Bills. The Bills have the QB in place to deal with this and one would expect if they do not win it all this year that they may do something similar to the Chiefs and begin moving veterans off the team in 2023. The Patriots and Texans need their QB’s to really hit or it could be a rough stretch.   

Questions about this article? Reach Jason Fitzgerald on Twitter at @Jason_OTC