1. Houston Texans- DE Mario Williams (NC State)
Normally if there’s a franchise quarterback available, I would put him #1 because those guys are just so valuable, and there is one available this year, Jay Cutler. However, the Texans got Matt Schaub the following offseason and things worked out pretty well for them with this original pick. Mario Williams proved the Texans right and established himself as one of the league’s premier pass rushers, which is another very valuable thing.
2. New Orleans Saints- RB Maurice Jones-Drew (UCLA)
Again, I’m not putting Cutler here because the Saints signed Drew Brees this offseason. The Saints used this pick on Reggie Bush, but even though that didn’t really work out, things worked out pretty well for the Saints. Can you imagine if they had taken Maurice Jones-Drew instead? Is it possible to score 40 points per game?
3. Tennessee Titans- QB Jay Cutler (Vanderbilt)
Here’s where Cutler goes. The Titans picked Vince Young here. He had some good moments with the Titans, but also some bad moments and, overall, his tenure in Tennessee was a failure. Things would have worked out a lot better if they had taken the local kid, Cutler, from in state Vanderbilt. Cutler is the only true franchise quarterback in this draft class and is one of the top 12-15 quarterbacks in the league. Those guys are so valuable because they can mask so many different problems and it’s impossible to win a Super Bowl without one.
4. New York Jets- OT D’Brickashaw Ferguson (Virginia)
This pick worked out pretty well for the Jets. Ferguson proved himself to be one of the better left tackles in the league and, other than quarterback, no position is more valuable. There is a reason why the franchise tag for offensive linemen is normally the 2nd highest in the NFL after quarterback and why you rarely see franchise caliber left tackles on the open market, only behind quarterbacks in frequency.
5. Green Bay Packers- DE Tamba Hali (Penn State)
The Packers had just 35 sacks in 2005 and besides, how could you pass on Tamba Hali here? Hali has emerged as one of the best pass rushers in the league and has experience in both the 3-4 and 4-3, both of which the Packers have run since 2006, so he’d be a perfect fit for them.
6. San Francisco 49ers- OT Andrew Whitworth (LSU)
I have no idea how Andrew Whitworth has never made a Pro Bowl. He’s one of the most underrated players in the league and has been a legitimate franchise caliber left tackle on Cincinnati’s offensive line over the past few years. The 49ers allowed 48 sacks in 2005, 5th most in the NFL. They attempted to fix the problem the following draft by trading up for Joe Staley, but, while Staley has been solid on the left side for them, Whitworth is a much better player. Besides, this way they would have been able to keep their 1st round pick in 2008 (#7), which they surrendered to move up for Staley.
7. Oakland Raiders- CB Johnathan Joseph (South Carolina)
Oakland had the league’s 26th rated pass defense in 2005. They attempted to fix that by drafting safety Michael Huff at this pick. He’s been alright, but he hasn’t really been worth a top-10 pick. Joseph is worth one and would have solved the problem more directly.
8. Buffalo Bills- DT Haloti Ngata (Oregon)
Buffalo had the league’s 29th rated run defense in 2005. Haloti Ngata sure would have fixed that problem. In Baltimore’s hybrid 3-4/4-3 scheme, he has experience in both of the schemes the Bills have run since 2006, so he’s a perfect fit for them, on top of filling a need and being the best available player.
9. Detroit Lions- DE Elvis Dumervil (Louisville)
The Lions’ defense was so bad for so many years because they simply ignored it in the early rounds in the Matt Millen era. Just one of Millen’s eight 1st round picks was a defensive player (Ernie Sims). I guess drafting crappy receivers was more important. If they got a do-over, they’d probably have drafted more defensive players, like Elvis Dumervil, who definitely would have helped a pass rush that managed just 31 sacks in 2005.
10. Arizona Cardinals- G Jahri Evans (Bloomsburg)
Interior offensive lineman rarely go this high, but that’s because, if they don’t become Pro Bowlers, they’re pretty much disappointments as top-20 picks. If a guard drafted in the top-20 becomes just a solid starter, it’s a disappointment because you can find solid starting guards much later. At other positions like cornerback, wide receiver, left tackle etc, it’s not as big of a deal if they’re just solid. That being said, Jahri Evans is a 3-time Pro Bowler and really has been one of the league’s best interior offensive lineman over the past few years so there’s no doubt he deserves to go this high looking back in hindsight. The Cardinals have needed offensive line help in a big way for years.
11. Denver Broncos- WR Greg Jennings (Western Michigan)
Jennings doesn’t go in the top-10 because you have to wonder how he’d do without Aaron Rodgers or Brett Favre throwing him the football. The Broncos’ top two receivers in 2005 were Rod Smith and Ashley Lelie. Smith was heading into his age 36 season in 2006 and caught just 52 passes for 512 yards and 3 touchdowns before retiring at the end of the season. Lelie, meanwhile, left as a free agent during the 2006 offseason.
12. Baltimore Ravens- NT Kyle Williams (LSU)
The Ravens miss out on Haloti Ngata, but they get Kyle Williams instead. Williams was ProFootballFocus’ top rated defensive tackle in 2010 and only goes below Ngata because he was a bit of a late bloomer and because he hasn’t had the consistent success that Ngata has had. Maybe that would have been different in a defense surrounded by Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Ed Reed, among others.
13. Cleveland Browns- WR Brandon Marshall (Central Florida)
The Browns had lost #1 receiver Antonio Bryant during the offseason and needed a complimentary young receiver opposite Braylon Edwards, who didn’t exactly turn out as they planned. Marshall would have turned out how they planned Edwards to turn out though and given the Browns a much needed #1 receiver, something they’ve lacked for years.
14. Philadelphia Eagles- CB Brent Grimes (Shippensburg)
The Eagles had the league’s 23rd ranked pass defense in 2005. Brent Grimes would have gone higher, but he was a bit of a late bloomer. There’s no doubt that the Shippensburg product is one of the top cornerbacks in the league now though. He was just given the Falcons’ franchise tag this offseason at a position with a franchise tag value tied for 2nd highest in the league.
15. St. Louis Rams- WR Marques Colston (Hofstra)
The Rams haven’t had good receivers since the days of Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. That once dynamic duo was heading into their age 34 and age 30 seasons respectively in 2006, so Colston would be some young talent for them to have waiting in the wings. Like Jennings, he doesn’t go higher because you have to wonder how he would have done without Drew Brees.
16. Miami Dolphins- TE Vernon Davis (Maryland)
This is a more appropriate place for Davis. Davis has become one of the better tight ends in the league, but he’s still just a tight end. Those guys are not really worth top-10 picks. Randy McMichael, a decent tight end, left the Dolphins after the 2006 season and left them starting Justin Peelle at tight end. He caught 29 passes for 228 yards and 2 touchdowns. After him, it’s been Anthony Fasano, who hasn’t been much better, at least as a pass catcher.
17. Minnesota Vikings- MLB Stephen Tulloch (NC State)
The Vikings took a linebacker here. Chad Greenway has been a solid player for them, but I think Tulloch is a better player because, unlike Greenway, he doesn’t struggle in coverage. He’d be a great fit for their cover 2 scheme, which requires linebackers be able to cover. He could have either played outside in Greenway’s spot, or inside and moved EJ Henderson outside.
18. Dallas Cowboys- MLB DeMeco Ryans (Alabama)
The Cowboys took a linebacker here. Bobby Carpenter really sucked. Here’s someone who doesn’t suck to fill a hole for the Cowboys in the middle of their linebacking corps.
19. San Diego Chargers- WR Miles Austin (Monmouth)
Keenan McCardell and Eric Parker were their top two wide receivers in 2005. Both left after the 2006 season. Vincent Jackson stepped up in their absence, but they could have used another receiver like Austin, especially since it would have allowed them to avoid to Buster Davis disaster in the 1st round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Austin goes below the other receivers because he was a late bloomer.
20. Kansas City Chiefs- DE Kamerion Wimbley (Florida State)
The Chiefs chose Tamba Hali here. That was a great pick, but he’s gone in this redo. However, they need to take some sort of pass rusher because Hali has been their only good pass rusher since and if they don’t replace him, they’ll really have trouble getting to the quarterback for years. Wimbley isn’t on Hali’s level, but he fits the range.
21. New England Patriots- RB DeAngelo Williams (Memphis)
The Patriots used this pick on Laurence Maroney. That didn’t work out. DeAngelo Williams would have worked out much better and made the Patriots’ offense even more explosive, which was obviously the goal with Maroney.
22. San Francisco 49ers- CB Tramon Williams (Louisiana Tech)
Tramon Williams upgrades a defense that ranked dead last against the pass in 2005. He has the talent to go earlier, especially after his 2010 season, but he was a late bloomer and is currently dealing with nerve damage in his shoulder that really limited him in 2011. We’ll see if he’s healthier and bounces back in 2012.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- OT Donald Penn (Utah State)
The Buccaneers got Donald Penn as an undrafted free agent and he turned into a legitimate left tackle for them. They wouldn’t be able to get him there again, so they just use their 1st round pick to secure a big part of their offense.
24. Cincinnati Bengals- CB Antonio Cromartie (Florida State)
The Bengals originally used this pick on Johnathan Joseph, but he’s not available unfortunately. Instead, they just take the best available cornerback to fill the void.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers- C Nick Mangold (Ohio State)
The Steelers have needed offensive line help for years. Besides, it’s a steal to get Mangold at this point. The league’s top center, Mangold would solidify their pass protection and anchor their running game.
26. Buffalo Bills- OLB Chad Greenway (Iowa)
Greenway goes off the board here and is an upgrade on the outside for a Buffalo defense that was using some scrub named Jeff Posey at one outside linebacker spot in 2005. No wonder they ranked 29th against the run.
27. Carolina Panthers- OT Eric Winston (Miami)
The Panthers had a need on the right side of their offensive line in 2006. Winston would have filled it and allowed them to continue the run heavy offense that Head Coach John Fox loves. They took right tackle Rashad Butler in the 3rd round.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars- DE Jeremy Mincey (Florida)
The Jaguars got to the quarterback 35 times in 2005 and have really struggled to get to the quarterback over the past few years. Mincey was a 6th round pick of the Jaguars’ in 2006, but I’m sure they wouldn’t mind taking him again with a 1st rounder in a redo since he’s their only proven pass rusher at the moment. He would have gone higher, but he was a late bloomer.
29. New York Jets- S Michael Huff (Texas)
This is a more appropriate spot for Michael Huff. He’s a solid safety, but he just wasn’t worth a top-10 pick. The Jets have had safety issues for years and even though this was a huge need in 2006, this is a best available player pick. The Jets also used a 3rd round pick on Eric Smith, a safety.
30. Indianapolis Colts- OLB D’Qwell Jackson (Maryland)
Another best available player pick, Jackson would have fit in with the Colts defense at linebacker. He would have gone higher if it weren’t for injury issues. The Colts used a 3rd rounder on a linebacker in 2006.
31. Seattle Seahawks- CB Tim Jennings (Georgia)
The Seahawks used this pick on Kelly Jennings, a cornerback. They had the right idea. They needed a cornerback. They just took the wrong Jennings. Tim is one of the best underrated cornerbacks in the league and was one of just two starting cornerbacks to not allow a touchdown last season.
32. New York Giants- OLB Mathias Kiwunaka (Boston College)
I don’t imagine the Giants have any complaints about this pick. Kiwanuka has been a solid starting linebacker and situational pass rusher for them.