ESPN ranks all-time greatest draft classes

April, 1, 2009
4/01/09
4:48
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

ESPN Stats & Information rated 13,808 draft picks to assemble a field of the NFL's top 32 draft classes for a tournament to determine the best of all-time. Fans will have a chance to vote starting Thursday.

Each team is represented and has been seeded No. 1 through No. 32 based on the best class in franchise history.

The classes were chosen using a formula that awarded points to each player for various individual and teams accomplishments.

  • 1 point: Super Bowl loss
  • 2 points: Offensive rookie of the year
  • 2 points: Defensive rookie of the year
  • 2 points: Pro Bowl
  • 3 points: Super Bowl victory
  • 3 points: second-team All-Pro
  • 4 points: first-team All-Pro
  • 6 points: AP Defensive Player of the Year
  • 6 points: AP Offensive Player of the Year
  • 8 points: AP Most Valuable Player
  • 15 points: Hall of Fame

The Buffalo Bills earned the third seed because of their 1985 draft class, which included defensive end Bruce Smith, receiver Andre Reed and quarterback Frank Reich.

The Miami Dolphins are the No. 8 seed behind their 1983 draft class that featured quarterback Dan Marino, punter Reggie Roby and receiver Mark Clayton.

The New England Patriots are a fine example of how the formula isn't perfect. They're seeded 19th because some of their greatest players still are active and, therefore, ineligible for the Hall of Fame. Four of their top six classes, according to ESPN Stats and Information, have been drafted in the past 14 years. They are the best overall since 2000, when Bill Belichick came aboard.

But the formula rates the Patriots' best draft class as 1973, the year they drafted one of their few Hall of Famers, guard John Hannah, and running back Sam Cunningham.

The New York Jets are seeded No. 25 based on their 1977 draft class. The selected offensive lineman Marvin Powell, receiver Wesley Walker and defensive tackle Joe Klecko.

ESPN Insider subscribers can see detailed breakdowns and find out which classes received honorable mentions for each club.

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