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Which division did the best work in the NFL draft? And worst? (Hint: AFC Least)

We've done our best to dissect the results of the 2014 NFL draft in as many ways as possible without drowining you, but here's an angle that sometimes gets overlooked — how the divisions fared.

Consider three short years ago. The NFC West was roundly considered a joke of a division. Now, of course, it's the best. One big draft by the teams that year in that division helped spur a sea change.

The Seahawks drafted Richard Sherman, Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith, K.J. Wright and James Carpenter. They culled Doug Baldwin from the undrafted ranks.

The 49ers drafted Aldon Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Chris Culiver (like him as a human being or not) and Bruce Miller.

The Rams landed Robert Quinn ... and little else, but still.

Ditto with the Cardinals and Patrick Peterson.

That's five stars, a handful of quality complementary parts and the seeds of what is now a fierce division. So we've tallied our final draft grades, which were in letter form, and assigned them the following number grades (I assigned nothing less than a D+ — not that cruel — and no A+ grades):

Team Division Number grade Total
Cleveland Browns AFC North 95  
Cincinnati Bengals AFC North 88  
Pittsburgh Steelers AFC North 85  
Baltimore Ravens AFC North 85  353
Carolina Panthers NFC South 92  
Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFC South 85  
New Orleans Saints NFC South 82  
Atlanta Falcons NFC South 82 341
San Francisco 49ers NFC West 95  
St. Louis Rams NFC West 95  
Seattle Seahawks NFC West 75  
Arizona Cardinals NFC West 75 340
Houston Texans AFC South 95  
Jacksonville Jaguars AFC South 92  
Tennessee Titans AFC South 85  
Indianapolis Colts AFC South 68 340 
Green Bay Packers NFC North 92  
Minnesota Vikings NFC North 92  
Chicago Bears NFC North 78  
Detroit Lions NFC North 75  337
Oakland Raiders AFC West  95  
San Diego Chargers AFC West  82  
Denver Broncos AFC West  78  
Kansas City Chiefs AFC West  72  327
New York Giants NFC East 85  
Dallas Cowboys NFC East 78  
Washington Redskins NFC East 72  
Philadelphia Eagles NFC East 72 307
New York Jets AFC East 82  
New England Patriots AFC East 78  
Miami Dolphins AFC East 72  
Buffalo Bills AFC East 72 304

Although both the NFC West and AFC South were tied with a total of 340 points, we broke the tiebreaker with the West on top because they had the two best grades given out with the Rams' and 49ers' A's.

So perhaps does this mean that the AFC North will be the toughest division in football in a few years? We're not going that far. After all, Andy Dalton's contract currently expires after the coming season and Ben Roethlisberger is set right now to be a free agent after the 2015 season — too many unknowns.

But the Browns' terrific haul (which will get better next year, with additional first-, fourth- and sixth-round picks), the Bengals' nice value picks, and the Steelers' and Ravens' solid efforts likely will make the division a more forceful one in both the short and long terms.

On the flip side, the Patriots' lower grade is reflected in the fact that they have drafted few obvious 2014 contributors. The Dolphins mostly played it safe throughout. The Jets had some odd picks, although they were sandwiched by a few decent ones early and late. And the Bills might have landed Sammy Watkins and a potential gem in Cyrus Kouandjio, but their level of risk (trading those two picks to the Browns, plus gambling on potential bust players later) was quite high.

Hence why the AFC East graded so low relatively. Will the Patriots win the division yet again? I have yet to see a good argument against that, barring disaster and maybe even not in that case.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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