No. 5: 49ers' best draft class

ESPN Stats and Information has ranked all NFL players drafted in the modern draft (1967-2008) based on their performance during their NFL careers -- regardless of how they fared with the team that drafted them. Insider will count down each team's best draft class (seeded 1-32), then conduct a tournament to determine the best class of all time.

For a short explanation of the ranking system, click here, or, for a more detailed rundown of how the system was developed, click here.

The 1981 49ers are now the underdog against the 1974 Steelers -- Vote now!


When it comes to drafting success, only two NFL franchises have been better than the 49ers, according to ESPN Stats and Information's rating system. San Francisco's five best draft classes all came in an eight-year span (1979-86), when Bill Walsh was crafting a franchise that would go on to win five Super Bowls.

San Francisco's 1981 draft class is the fifth best of all time, according to our rankings. The 49ers picked three defensive backs (including Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott) with their first four picks and all three started every game of San Francisco's 1981 Super Bowl-winning season.