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TheStreet Open House

Why A Successful Draft Can Turn Your NFL Team Into A Contender

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The 2014 NFL Draft wrapped up this weekend at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The crown jewel of the NFL's offseason, the draft features NFL teams looking to bolster their rosters with the top college prospects in the country.

This year's first round concluded on Thursday with Defensive End Jadeveon Clowney out of South Carolina being picked by the Houston Texans with the number one overall selection. Potential difference makers Sammy Watkins (WR Clemson, drafted by the Buffalo Bills), Teddy Bridgewater (QB Louisville, drafted by the Minnesota Vikings) and Johnny Manziel aka Johnny Football (QB Texas A&M, drafted by the Cleveland Browns) were all picked on the first day of the three day 7-round event.

The 2014 draft also featured a touch of history as LB Michael Sam became the first openly gay football player to be drafted into the league when he was picked in the final round by the St. Louis Rams.

A single draft can make or break a franchise for years to come. Waste a top pick on a bust, and it could set your franchise back immensely. However, score on a pick and the returns could set your franchise up for success for a decade.

Current and Future Hall of Famers Peyton Manning, Jerry Rice, Deion Sanders, John Elway and Dan Marino were all selected in the first round, and while there have certainly been gems taken in later rounds -- three time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady was chosen in the sixth round -- the first round represents the best opportunity for franchises to turn their fortunes around, or continue with the success they have already built.

That being said it often takes four or five seasons to fully evaluate a draft pick's impact on a team. These are the top 10 first round draft picks of the past 5 years.

Percy Harvin

Percy Harvin

Drafted By: Minnesota Vikings

2009/22nd pick

Team Win % Since Draft (Vikings): .484


Wide Receiver

Percy Harvin is one of the few players from this draft class to not be with the team that originally drafted him -- he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks last offseason -- but he is one of the most dangerous players in the league with the ball in his hands. The Wide Reciever and kick return specialist won a Super Bowl this past season with the Seahawks, and despite missing much of the year with various injuries, made an impact on the big game by returning a kick off for a touchdown.

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