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Lunchbreak: ESPN's Barnwell Decides Best (and Worst) NFL Draft Classes All-Time


Inspired by a 2019 draft class of defensive linemen that many project to be historically great, ESPN's Bill Barnwell set out to determine the best (and worst) overall draft classes of all time, as well as the most and least bountiful by position.

He explained:

I went ahead and built a simple, admittedly arbitrary stat to try and calculate that figure. Using's database, I went through each draft pick since the AFL-NFL merger for 1970 and awarded them a draft score, with one point for every year as a starter, four points for a Pro Bowl berth, eight points for a first-team All-Pro nod, and a 40-point bonus for making the Hall of Fame. I preassigned Hall of Fame nods to absolute locks for Canton like [Tom] Brady and J.J. Watt to try to get an accurate read of more recent drafts, and after evaluating each class by the numbers, I tried to apply common sense to sort through close calls. I treated a seven-time Pro Bowler at receiver as more valuable than a seven-time Pro Bowler who was listed at receiver but made it to Hawaii for special teams, because the league also values the offensive/defensive player as more important.

The method led Barnwell to conclude that 1983 — which featured Hall of Fame quarterbacks John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino — is the best year of quarterback selections.

He noted that 2016 (Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott) and 2012 (Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Nick Foles and Kirk Cousins) remain as classes to watch.

Barnwell determined the 1983 draft to be the best of all-time.

The running backs group led by Eric Dickerson landed at third in positional rankings. The collective defensive backs harvested in that year ranked second, which shouldn't surprise Vikings fans old enough to enjoy the careers of Joey Browner, a first rounder who went to six straight Pro Bowls, and Carl Lee, a seventh-round steal who made three consecutive Pro Bowls.

As for the worst?

Barnwell simply turned the calendar one year to 1984.

Funny how that works, huh? This is one of only two classes from 1970 to 2006 that has failed to produce a Hall of Famer. The 1992 class has one three-time first-team All-Pro in Cowboys safety Darren Woodson. The 1984 class doesn't even sport that level of player. … Ten of the 28 first-round picks failed to start even three seasons as a pro.

Keith Millard was Minnesota's first-round pick that year but he didn't suit up for the Vikings until 1985. He totaled 53 sacks in Purple, was a two-time All-Pro and the 1989 Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year.

Vikings Preseason Dates, Times Finalized

When the NFL announced the Vikings 2019 preseason opponents on Tuesday, dates and times remained to be determined for two games.

Fans didn't have to wait long before the Vikings and opponents finalized plans.

The exhibition slate, which will be here in under four months, follows:

Preseason Week 1 (Friday, August 9 at 7:00 p.m. CT): at New Orleans Saints

Preseason Week 2 (Sunday, August 18 at 7:00 p.m. CT): vs. Seattle Seahawks

Preseason Week 3 (Saturday, August 24 at noon CT): vs. Arizona Cardinals

Preseason Week 4 (Thursday, August 29 at 6:30 p.m. CT): at Buffalo Bills

The Vikings home game against the Saints will be broadcast nationally on FOX. The following game against the Cardinals will be picked up by NFL Network.

All four games will be broadcast in the Twin Cities on KMSP. Audio of the games will be simulcast on KFAN-FM 100.3, KTLK-AM 1130 and the Vikings Radio Network.