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2006 NFL Draft do-over: Reggie Bush falls to Raiders at No. 7


The 2006 NFL Draft will be remembered as a huge disappointment when compared with its promise. Mario Williams never dominated games or was the linchpin of a great defense or organization. Reggie Bush was one of the original YouTube stars but was really just a glorified Eric Metcalf. And the two headline quarterbacks who battled it out in an epic title game -- Vince Young and Matt Leinart -- fell far short of expectations, too.

Drafts are usually remembered based on the first half of the first round, and there are very few players who lived up to their hype in 2006, including those above, as well as D'Brickashaw Ferguson, A.J. Hawk, Michael Huff and Ernie Sims.


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Heck, Bush and Hawk, who were both released Wednesday, never even made a Pro Bowl. Do you know how hard that is when you've played in as many games as they have? You accidentally fall into a Pro Bowl if you stay in the league long enough.

When I look at re-drafts, I always work off the assumption that the player starts over with the same intellectual and physical tools -- including their level of health at the time of the draft -- and go from there. I use a slightly updated idea of position value so as not to work off of an outdated idea of draft strategy. I go into this understanding that players could take on injuries they didn't have previously or that they could remain healthy rather than suffer through the injuries that might have slowed them.

With that said, here is a do-over of the first 10 picks of the 2006 draft:

1. Houston Texans

Original pick: Mario Williams
Do-over pick: Mario Williams
Comment: Williams was an unpopular pick in Houston but has been solid for most of his career despite suffering through nagging injuries early in his career. Drafting a pass rusher will always be a priority in the NFL no matter the decade.

2. New Orleans Saints

Original pick: Reggie Bush
Do-over pick: Haloti Ngata
Comment: In hindsight, Bush was a bit of a luxury pick based on his explosive tendencies coming out of college. At age 28, RB Deuce McAllister still had something left in the tank. Ngata could have stepped in and immediately challenged Hollis Thomas for the starting spot up front and dominated for years to come.

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3. Tennessee Titans

Original pick: Vince Young
Do-over pick: Jay Cutler
Comment: This probably won't be a popular pick since Cutler has had an inconsistent career, but the 2006 Titans needed quarterback help, and quarterbacks with Cutler's tools will always go early. Who knows? Maybe things would have turned out differently for both Cutler and then offensive coordinator Norm Chow if the two had hooked up.

4. New York Jets

Original pick: D'Brickashaw Ferguson
Do-over pick: D'Brickashaw Ferguson
Comment: Their are better players on the board, but the 2006 Jets needed help all along the offensive line, and Ferguson has had a steady, if unspectacular, career.

5. Green Bay Packers

Original pick: A.J. Hawk
Do-over pick: Vernon Davis
Comment: The Packers started Al Harris, who was 32 years old in 2006, and Antonio Cromartie would have been a nice fit with his size and man-coverage ability. But Bubba Franks was a non-factor as a pass catcher, and Vernon Davis would have given the Packers an athletic mismatch weapon for Brett Favre (and future Aaron Rodgers) to sling passes to.

6. San Francisco 49ers

Original pick: Vernon Davis
Do-over pick: Brandon Marshall
Comment: With all due respect to Arnaz Battle, I feel quite certain that the 49ers would've been more than happy to take their chances with a receiver of Marshall's caliber to go along with their second-year quarterback in Alex Smith.

7. Oakland Raiders

Original pick: Michael Huff
Do-over pick: Reggie Bush
Comment: It's what Al Davis would have wanted. Bush was a Southern California phenom with local appeal and head-turning athletic traits. I almost feel like I have to put Bush here over Jhari Evans, whom I would have loved to plug into that spot.

8. Buffalo Bills

Original pick: Donte Whitner
Do-over pick: DeMeco Ryans
Comment: The Bills were finished with London Fletcher after the 2006 season, so it makes perfect sense to plug in a player with the consistency and leadership of Ryans into the middle of the Bills defense.

9. Detroit Lions

Original pick: Ernie Sims
Do-over pick: Antonio Cromartie
Comment: Sims didn't work out, but in this scenario, the Lions would get a long press corner who would be groomed to take over as the No. 1 CB of the future.

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10. Arizona Cardinals

Original pick: Matt Leinart
Do-over pick: Tamba Hali
Comment: The Cardinals needed quarterback help and guard help, but they also had aging pass rushers and a young Antonio Smith, who wasn't an edge presence as a rusher. Hali would've been an instant upgrade to the pass rush.

Top 10 draft board regardless of need

1. Haloti Ngata, DT
2. Mario Williams, DE
3. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB
4. Brandon Marshall, WR
5. Tamba Hali, DE/OLB
6. Vernon Davis, TE
7. Greg Jennings, WR
8. Antonio Cromartie, CB
9. D'Brickashaw Ferguson, LT
10. Jahri Evans, OG

Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter @LanceZierlein



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