NFL Draft News & Analysis

Premium Content Sign Up

Investigating historical draft success at defensive positions

This article is a continuation of yesterday's study about historical draft success at different positions, with this piece focusing on the defensive side of the ball.

Our methodology is relatively simple, as we are just investigating the relationship between draft position and career performance as measured by the posterior mean of PFF grades. For a detailed explanation of how to interpret the charts and tables, go back to yesterday's article — which can be found here — and read the section about quarterbacks. There you'll find a detailed exposition of how to interpret the information given on each position.


Cornerback is a position that has been drafted incredibly well in the first round, as there are very few busts, and there is a high drop-off to the second round. In fact, it's the largest drop-off among all positions. Consequently, teams should always look if there is a cornerback worth pulling the trigger on when on the clock on Day 1.

If you haven't drafted a cornerback after Round 2 or 3, you might as well fill other needs first and wait until later rounds for one, as the best cornerbacks are most likely already off the board and teams haven't generally been good at identifying mid-round gems.

Draft success for cornerbacks
Pick Top 3 2nd Round 3rd Round 4th Round
Percentile 86 57 43 38
Chance at stud (90th percentile) 39.2% 10.1% 4.7% 3.2%
Chance at starter (65th percentile) 75.3% 40.1% 27.0% 22.4%

Subscribe to PFF+ to continue reading

Already have a subscription? Sign In

Safety worth way more than 2 points. Help protext your family with fast, affordable life insurance. You could be covered in 10 minutes! Get a Free Quote.

NFL Draft Featured Tools

  • Live picks, grades and reaction to the 2023 NFL Draft.

  • 250+ three-page scouting profiles - advanced stats, 3-year grades, player comps, combine data and Senior Bowl grades - for the 2023 draft class.

    Available with

  • PFF's Big Board for the 2023 NFL Draft offers three-year player grades, combine measurables, position rankings, and in-depth player analysis for all of the top draft prospects.

    Available with

  • Our exclusive database, featuring the most in-depth collection of NCAA player performance data.

    Available with


Unlock all tools and content including Player Grades, Fantasy, NFL Draft, Premium Stats, Greenline and DFS.

$9.99 / mo
$79.99 / yr