What can NFL’s best sophomore class do for an encore?

They say it takes three years to truly evaluate an NFL draft class, but the New Orleans Saints shifted that process into hyperdrive last season with one of the best rookie hauls in league history.

Running back Alvin Kamara and cornerback Marshon Lattimore became the first duo to sweep the league’s Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year awards in 50 years, with both making the Pro Bowl. A total of five rookies became starters for the Saints,cheap nfl jerseys china nike including offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk and safety Marcus Williams, who looked like potential Pro Bowlers.

As a result, the Saints ended a three-year playoff drought and came one play away from the NFC Championship Game. Now they have soared a staggering 22 spots in ESPN’s Future NFL Power Rankings — from No. 25 at this time last summer to No. 3.2

A year ago, ESPN’s group of insiders expressed concerns about then-38-year-old quarterback Drew Brees heading into the final year of his contract and New Orleans’ roster being full of holes.

Now, Brees has re-upped for two more years and the Saints suddenly have one of the league’s most balanced rosters after landing seven players in the Pro Bowl.

Kamara, Lattimore and third-year star receiver Michael Thomas all insisted they won’t rest on their laurels — that they want to accomplish even more this season, be ranked among the all-time greats and “legends” of the game while leading New Orleans back to a Super Bowl. All three have certainly flashed the talent to do so.

But what does history tell us about how rookie classes like this have fared?china nike nfl jerseys cheap

ESPN Stats & Information dug up the six best draft classes since the NFL went to the current seven-round format in 1994, based on Pro Football Reference’s “approximate value” rating it assigns to every player in the NFL. It’s an inexact measure, but it’s the best way to compare players across all position groups and eras.