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National Football League Draft

Every NFL team's best draft class since 2000: Figuring out the best 32 drafts of the last 20 years

www.cbssports.com
7 min read
fairly easy
Several draft classes helped lay down the foundation for a championship
While free agency has played a significant role in the success (or failure) of NFL franchises since its inception in the early 1990s, the NFL Draft continues to play a large role in helping determine which team hoists the Lombardi Trophy on a yearly basis. Simply put, teams that consistently draft good players have generally been in position to win one or multiple championships. Conversely, teams that struggle to select the right prospects perennially find themselves with one of the top picks in the draft.

With this year's draft now in the rearview mirror, we decided to take a look back at each team's best draft since 2000. We're excluding the 2020 draft, as those players have yet to take an NFL snap. And while older draft classes will clearly have an advantage, the potential already shown in some recent draft classes did result in some from the last few years cracking this list.

Without further ado, let's get started.

Arizona Cardinals: 2004

Rd Ov Player Pos 1 3 Larry Fitzgerald WR 2 33 Karlos Dansby LB 3 64 Darnell Dockett DT 4 100 Alex Stepanovich C 5 135 Antonio Smith DE 6 167 Nick Leckey C 7 202 John Navarre QB

The Cardinals' 2004 draft class starts with Larry Fitzgerald, a future Hall of Fame receiver who was the team's best player during their 2008 Super Bowl run. With their second and third-round picks, the Cardinals picked two other players that would play prominent roles on their '08 NFC title team: linebacker Karlos Dansby and defensive tackle Darnell Dockett. In the fifth round, Arizona selected defensive end Antonio Smith, who received 39 starts in five years in Arizona before earning his first Pro Bowl selection after joining the Texans.

Atlanta Falcons: 2008

Rd Ov Player Pos 1 3 Matt Ryan QB 1 21 Sam Baker T 2 37 Curtis Lofton LB 3 68 Chevis Jackson DB 3 84 Harry Douglas WR 3 98 Thomas DeCoud DB 5 138 Robert James LB 5 154 Kroy Biermann LB 6 172 Thomas Brown RB 7 212 Wilrey Fontenot DB 7 232 Keith Zinger TE

Atlanta's best draft class came…
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