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Wednesday, April 1, 2009
The best draft classes in NFC West history?

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

ESPN Stats & Information ranked the 49ers' 1981 draft class as the best since 1967 among current NFC West teams using a formula rewarding points for career milestones.

The formula values only past performance, one reason Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin do not yet qualify among the top 10 draft choices in Cardinals history. This package is available to Insider subscribers, but I'll summarize the NFC West results here:

The formula doesn't differentiate between a player's production for his original team and the success he enjoyed elsewhere. It rewards Super Bowl performances, one reason the 49ers' 1981 class ranked so high. Every team's highest-rated draft qualified for consideration, sometimes at the expense of higher-rated classes from other teams (explaining why the Texans' 2006 draft class ranked 32nd, while the 49ers' 1985 class featuring Jerry Rice didn't make the list).