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Friday, December 4, 2009
Ruskell vs. the NFC West on draft day

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Outgoing Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell made a strong statement defending his draft record with the team.

"I really would hold our record in terms of our drafts and how they’ve gone, and how many of those players are still here, up against anyone in the league," he said Thursday.

Ruskell joined the Seahawks before the 2005 season. He inherited a team that was already pretty good. He helped that team get over the top in the short term. The subsequent fall has been dramatic.

By my count, the 49ers have drafted more current starters since 2005 than any team in the league. That reflects some good drafting. It also reflects the pitiful state of the 49ers before the 2005 draft.

It's fair to say the 49ers are more talented than the Seahawks at this point. We can explore that further in another post.

Since 2005, though, the 49ers have drafted current starters Alex Smith, Michael Crabtree, Frank Gore, Josh Morgan, Joe Staley, Tarell Brown, Dashon Goldson, Delanie Walker, Patrick Willis, Chilo Rachal, David Baas, Adam Snyder, Vernon Davis, Parys Haralson and Manny Lawson. I listed Walker among the group because the 49ers are using so many personnel groups with Davis and Walker as the tight ends.

Crabtree, Gore, Willis, Staley and Davis look like front-line players.

Current Seattle starters drafted since 2005 include Josh Wilson, Leroy Hill, Aaron Curry, Max Unger, Chris Spencer, Rob Sims, Ray Willis, John Carlson, Brandon Mebane and Lawrence Jackson. Lofa Tatupu is on injured reserve.

Hill, Carlson, Mebane and Tatupu arguably look like front-line players. Wilson is on the rise. Curry and Unger could join the list.

The Cardinals are the best team in the division thanks largely to their 2004 draft class featuring Larry Fiztgerald, Karlos Dansby and Darnell Dockett (Antonio Smith, now with the Texans, was also part of that group).

Arizona has also added key players more recently.

Since 2005, the Cardinals have drafted a group featuring Matt Leinart, Steve Breaston, Antrel Rolle, Beanie Wells, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Tim Hightower, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Will Davis, Levi Brown, Deuce Lutui, Alan Branch, Early Doucet, Ben Patrick, Kenny Iwebema, Calais Campbell and Gabe Watson.

It's important to remember draft position as part of the equation. Ruskell was often drafting later than the other teams in the division. The players he added also joined a more talented roster for some of those years, making it harder for them to crack the starting lineup.

All things to consider as we weigh Ruskell's claim.