This week, College Football 24/7 takes a division-by-division look at the best and worst all-time NFL draft picks for every team, continuing today with the AFC West and NFC West teams.
For this exercise, where a player was selected in the draft and the sum of their NFL accomplishments (or, lack thereof) were taken into account.
Best pick:Larry Fitzgerald (2004 NFL Draft, Round 1, No. 3 overall)
The lowdown:Pro Football Hall of Famer Larry Wilson (1960 NFL Draft, Round 7, No. 74 overall by the St. Louis Cardinals) would also warrant heavy consideration, but for this exercise we will only include players that the Cardinals drafted during the franchise's time in Arizona. Fitzgerald is a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and has seven 1,000-yard seasons. He helped guide the once-moribund Cardinals out of the wilderness and into prominence, as the franchise played for its first championship in 60 years when it advanced to Super Bowl XLIII.
Worst pick:Andre Wadsworth (1998 NFL Draft, Round 1, No. 3 overall)
The lowdown: After Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf went 1-2 in the 1998 draft, the Cardinals selected Wadsworth, who was expected to be a disruptive force along the defensive line. Instead, he played for just three seasons and recorded eight sacks. Wadsworth's inability to live up to expectations gets overshadowed due to the epic failures of Leaf.
Los Angeles Rams
Best pick:Deacon Jones (1961 NFL Draft, Round 14, No. 186 overall)
The lowdown: As we did with the Arizona Cardinals, only players selected as Los AngelesRams will be considered. Jones was so good at getting to the quarterback that he is credited with coining the term "sacks." However, Jones has no sacks to his statistical ledger due to the fact that sacks didn't become an official NFL statistic until 1982. Jones anchored one of the greatest defensive fronts in league history, the "Fearsome Foursome."
Worst pick:Gaston Green (1988 NFL Draft, Round 1, No. 14 overall)
The lowdown: Again, only L.A. Rams qualify here, otherwise Lawrence Phillips (1996 NFL Draft, Round 1, No. 6 overall to the St. Louis Rams) would be a slam-dunk choice. In 1987, the Rams traded future Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson to the Indianapolis Colts for a bounty of draft picks. With the first of two first-round picks in 1988, the Rams took Green, who didn't exactly fill the shoes of Dickerson in the backfield, rushing for 451 yards (3.5-yards-per-carry average) over three seasons in Los Angeles. A year later, the Rams took another running back in the first round, Cleveland Gary, who was a slight improvement over Green.
San Francisco 49ers
Best pick:Joe Montana (1979 NFL Draft, Round 3, No. 82 overall)
The lowdown: This is a tough choice between Montana and Jerry Rice (1985 NFL Draft, Round 1, No. 16 overall). Like Rice, Montana is a prominent fixture in "greatest ever" conversations. Unlike Rice, Montana wasn't a first-round selection, dropping in the draft and becoming a steal in the third round. By performing at an incredible level on the game's grandest stage, Montana cemented his status as the most clutch quarterback in league history. Montana won all four Super Bowls he played in, and was named game MVP in three of those victories.
Worst pick:A.J. Jenkins (2012 NFL Draft, Round 1, No. 30 overall)
The lowdown: Rarely in the history of the game does a first-round draft selection offer zero in the way of production. That's exactly what happened for the 49ers with Jenkins, who played in just three games while in San Francisco and registered no catches. In his rookie season, Jenkins played just 37 offensive snaps, and was targeted only once (he dropped the pass). In 2013, the 49ers traded Jenkins to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for equally inept receiver Jon Baldwin. Baldwin at least caught some passes for the 49ers; three for 28 yards in his only season with the team.
Best pick:Richard Sherman (2011 NFL Draft, Round 5, No. 154 overall)
The lowdown: One of the stalwarts of Seattle's famous "Legion of Boom" defensive backfield, Sherman played a vital role in the Seahawks' back-to-back Super Bowl appearances -- including the thoroughly dominant defensive performance over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. Sherman is a three-time Pro Bowl selection, the 2014 NFC Defensive Player of the Year and was the league's leader in interceptions in 2013, which was the Seahawks' Super Bowl title season.
Worst pick:Aaron Curry (2009 NFL Draft, Round 1, No. 4 overall)
The lowdown: Curry was the highest-drafted linebacker since the Washington Redskins selected LaVar Arrington with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft. For that, Curry got a hefty six-year, $60 million ($34 million guaranteed) rookie contract. Curry failed to live up to expectations, and in 2011 he was supplanted as a starter by rookie K.J. Wright. He was then traded to the Oakland Raiders, and he was out of the league by the start of the 2013 season.
And who was the greatest pick of them all?