Draft Do-Overs  

 

In hindsight, decision at top highlighted volatile '08 draft

  • By Pat Kirwan NFL.com
More Columns >

Of course, there are no do-overs when it comes to the NFL draft. You simply live with the picks you make, whether they work out or not. But what if teams could go back and rewrite history? This week, NFL.com will do just that by looking at each draft from 2004 to 2008 and assign do-overs based on what we know now. Today, Pat Kirwan rewrites 2008.

Just three years removed from the 2008 NFL Draft, the reality is that all of these players should currently be peaking. If they haven't by now, then it probably isn't gong to happen.

Vernon Gholston, a coveted outside linebacker drafted No. 6 overall by the Jets, is a bust. Derrick Harvey, drafted two picks later at No. 8 by the Jaguars, has just eight sacks in three years -- which is eight more than Gholston, if you're keeping count.

Volatility has already worked its way into this draft class. The Jets released Gholston earlier this offseason, while some other first-round players have already switched teams, as Lawrence Jackson (No. 28) left Seattle for Detroit and Kentwan Balmer (No. 29) was shipped off to Seattle from San Francisco. A year from now, when original rookie bonus money is paid off, teams will start dumping picks that just never lived up to expectations.

Here is how the top 10 should have looked with what we know now:

Here's a harsh reality of the NFL draft: Some teams wish they could just go back in time for a second chance. This week, former personnel
executives Pat Kirwan and Michael Lombardi rewrite the drafts from 2004 to 2008.

2004: Kirwan: Shakeup among famed QB trio
2005: Lombardi: Right pick was in 49ers' backyard
2006: Kirwan: Famed trio highlights busts
2007: Lombardi: Reflecting on Raiders' failure
2008: Kirwan: Dolphins missed out on franchise QB

1. Miami Dolphins

Actual pick: Jake Long
Do-over pick: Matt Ryan

The Dolphins made a good choice with Long, but it's clear Ryan is a franchise quarterback, which Miami has been searching for since Hall of Famer Dan Marino retired after the 1999 season. In three years, Ryan has 10,061 passing yards and 66 touchdowns and led the Falcons to the playoffs twice. Does Bill Parcells, who was executive vice president of football operations at the time, wish he had drafted Ryan instead? Maybe.

2. St. Louis Rams

Actual pick: Chris Long
Do-over pick:
Ryan Clady

The Rams took a good, solid player in Long, but Clady has proven to be an excellent pass blocker at left tackle. With his addition, the Rams could have been prepared for the arrival of Sam Bradford.

3. Atlanta Falcons

Actual pick: Matt Ryan
Do-over pick:
Joe Flacco

Atlanta would have missed on Ryan, but Joe Flacco has proven to be worthy of a top-five spot. He has thrown for over 10, 206 yards (more than Ryan) with 60 touchdowns and guided the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his three seasons.

2008 NFL Draft -- Round 1
Pk
Team
Player
Pos.
College
1
OT
Michigan
2
DE
Virginia
3
QB
Boston College
4
RB
Arkansas
5
DT
LSU
6
Vernon Gholston
LB
Ohio State
7
Sedrick Ellis
DT
USC
8
Derrick Harvey
DE
Florida
9
OLB
USC
10
LB
Tennessee
11
CB
Troy
12
OT
Boise State
13
RB
Oregon
14
OT
Vanderbilt
15
OT
Virginia
16
CB
Tennessee St.
17
OT
Boston College
18
QB
Delaware
19
Jeff Otah
OT
Pittsburgh
20
CB
Kansas
21
OT
USC
22
RB
Arkansas
23
RB
Illinois
24
RB
East Carolina
25
CB
South Florida
26
OT
Virginia Tech
27
CB
Arizona
28
DE
USC
29
Kentwan Balmer
DE
North Carolina
30
TE
Purdue
31
FS
Miami (Fla.)
Note: A 2007 video-taping scandal forced the Patriots to forfeit their No. 31 overall pick.
» 2008 NFL Draft: All the picks

4. Oakland Raiders

Actual pick: Darren McFadden
Do-over pick:
Chris Johnson

Oakland took McFadden, but he has struggled to stay healthy and, until last season, hadn't produced like Chris Johnson. In the same amount of time, Johnson has 2,556 more rushing yards and 23 more touchdowns. Enough said.

5. Kansas City Chiefs

Actual pick: Glenn Dorsey
Do-over pick:
Chris Long

The Chiefs have a serviceable player in Dorsey, but Chris Long is starting to separate from him in production. Dorsey has 4.0 sacks and one forced fumble in his career; Long has 17.5 sacks and five forced fumbles.

6. New York Jets

Actual pick: Vernon Gholston
Do-over pick:
Jake Long

The Jets drafted one of the biggest busts in a long time when they selected Gholston. He has zero sacks in three seasons and has been inactive more often than not. Long would have given the Jets a bookend right tackle to go with D'Brickashaw Ferguson, and the power run game coach Rex Ryan loves to employ would have been even more dominant.

7. New Orleans Saints

Actual pick: Sedrick Ellis
Do-over pick:
Jerod Mayo

The Saints made a solid pick in Ellis and might not change it, even at this time. But a weakside linebacker to team up with Jonathan Vilma would be nice. Mayo already has 285 tackles in three years, and the Saints have been looking for a linebacker since Scott Fujita left.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars

Actual pick: Derrick Harvey
Do-over pick:
Sedrick Ellis

The Jaguars were desperate for pass rushers and Harvey looked the part, but he has struggled. Taking an interior player like Ellis to disrupt the pocket would have provided a bigger help to their pass-rushing woes. By the way, Ellis already has more sacks than Harvey and the Jaguars' second-round pick, Quentin Groves, combined (12 to 10.5).

9. Cincinnati Bengals

Actual pick: Keith Rivers
Do-over pick:
DeSean Jackson

Rivers has been solid, but Jackson is a big-time playmaker who might have showed their was no longer a need for Chad Ochocinco. Jackson, with Carson Palmer throwing to him, would have more production at this point than what he has with the Eagles.

10. New England Patriots

Actual pick: Jerod Mayo
Do-over pick:
Curtis Lofton

New England got the man it wanted in Mayo, but in a "do-over" draft he would have been gone. The Patriots would then take Curtis Lofton, who has been a terrific linebacker for the Falcons. Lofton, at close to 250 pounds, has 256 tackles, 3.0 sacks, six forced fumbles and seven passes defensed. There would be no drop-off for the Patriots.

For the Ravens to draft a back the caliber of Ray Rice 55th overall was a steal.
For the Ravens to draft a back the caliber of Ray Rice 55th overall was a steal. (Andrew Weber/US Presswire)

Best values of 2008 draft

Second round: Four players jump out from the second round: Lofton (No. 37), Jackson (49), Tracy Porter (50) and Ravens running back Ray Rice (55).

Third round: The Panthers got a solid defensive back in Charles Godfrey (67), and the Lions got a nice pass rusher in Cliff Avril (92). But the best pick of the round is Packers tight end Jermichael Finley (91).

Fourth round: The Seahawks believe they found a rare player for their scheme at 121st overall in defensive tackle Red Bryant. The Colts selected tight end Jacob Tamme (127), who more than picked up the slack when Dallas Clark went down with an injury last year.

Fifth round: The Saints found a powerful guard at No. 164 in Carl Nicks, who has Pro Bowl potential. He and Jahri Evans give New Orleans arguably the best pair of guards in the league.

Sixth round: The Vikings found their starting center when they selected John Sullivan from Notre Dame at 187th overall. The Colts found another good wide receiver, Pierre Garcon, from little Mount Union College at No. 205. Garcon, who was the 28th receiver taken, has 114 receptions and 10 touchdowns in the last two years.

Seventh round: The Bills hit gold when they selected wide receiver Steve Johnson (224). Last season he exploded for 82 receptions and 10 touchdowns.

Biggest mistakes

There is no doubt that Gholston was the biggest mistake. He has five starts in three years with zero sacks, no forced fumbles, and less than 20 tackles. Balmer hasn't done much, either, and is already on his second team.

Nabbing their franchise QB was just the beginning of a dream 2008 draft for the Falcons.
Nabbing their franchise QB was just the beginning of a dream 2008 draft for the Falcons. (Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire)

Best team draft

The Falcons, under the direction of general manager Thomas Dimitroff, had one of those drafts you dream about. They got a franchise quarterback in Ryan, a starting left tackle in Sam Baker (21), a starting middle linebacker in Lofton, a starting safety in Thomas DeCoud (98), a pass rusher in Kroy Biermann (154) and a slot receiver in Harry Douglas (84).

Worst team draft

It's a little early to declare the worst draft but a few look shaky, most notably San Francisco's. The 49ers' bad draft began with Balmer. In the second round they took Chilo Rachal, who needs to play better, and two more players after that who aren't on the team. At least Josh Morgan was a steal in the sixth round.

Fooled us all

Of course Gholston qualifies for this category, but in an effort not to be repetitive, Chris Williams from Vanderbilt was supposed to be a ten year starter at offensive tackle. He has struggled, and much like Robert Gallery moved to guard and played better. The problem is the 14th overall pick usually isn't a guard.

Bad fit

Lawrence Jackson was a first-round pick of the Seahawks, and some thought he would be a perfect fit when the organization brought in his old college coach Pete Carroll last season. But soon after his arrival, Carroll sent Lawrence to Detroit. The second round had a number of bad fits: Limas Sweed in Pittsburgh, James Hardy in Buffalo, Brian Brohm in Green Bay, and Dexter Jackson in Tampa Bay.

Fell to the right team

Flacco didn't exactly "fall" to the Ravens. Baltimore went up and got him, but it was a great fit, as he started as a rookie and hasn't looked back. The Ravens have been fortifying their passing game to feature Flacco's strong arm. To put Flacco's 60 touchdown passes during his first three seasons into perspective, Eli Manning had 54 and Drew Brees 55 in their first three years as starters.

Makes sense after all

The 2008 draft featured five running backs selected in the first 24 picks -- McFadden, Johnson, Jonathan Stewart, Felix Jones and Rashard Mendenhall -- which makes sense. But Johnson wasn't selected until a pair of teammates from Arkansas (McFadden and Jones) were selected, and you have to wonder now why four teams in need of a running back -- Oakland, Carolina, Dallas, and Pittsburgh -- all thought they should pass on him for another back.

Headlines

The previous element was an advertisement.

NFL Shop

NFL News
CONTENT
15