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2008 NFL Draft do-over: Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco rise to the top

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The 2017 NFL Draft -- which will begin April 27 in Philadelphia -- is one in which there is no obvious quarterback to pick first overall. Thus, it is expected that the No. 1 overall selection will be used on a non-quarterback for just the fourth time in 10 drafts.

Interestingly enough, one of the quarterbacks passed over in one of those drafts -- Matt Ryan, in 2008 -- just led the Falcons to Super Bowl LI. So as teams consider their options with prospects like Mitchell Trubisky, Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer, I thought I'd look back at that 2008 NFL Draft to see how it would go today, based on how the drafted players' careers have since turned out. And surprise, surprise -- quarterbacks fared much better this time around. Below is my attempt to re-do the 2008 NFL Draft.

NOTE: Because the Patriots had to forfeit their first-round pick in 2008, just 31 picks were made in Round 1 -- and the same holds true here.

Click through the tabs above to see draft do-overs for other years.

1) Dolphins: Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College

Original pick: Jake Long, OT, Michigan.

Ryan was drafted: Round 1, No. 3 overall by the Falcons.

Ryan took a Falcons team that finished 4-12 in 2007 to 11-5 in his rookie season. He gets better every year and came achingly close to winning it all in February. Here, he easily solves the Dolphins' long search for a post-Dan Marino franchise QB.

2) Rams: Joe Flacco, QB, Delaware

Original pick: Chris Long, DE, Virginia.

Flacco was drafted: Round 1, No. 18 overall by the Ravens.

Flacco is a big quarterback with a big arm and a 10-5 playoff record, which includes this magical line from the Super Bowl-winning 2012 postseason: 11 touchdown passes, zero picks, a 117.2 passer rating and 285 yards per game in four games. Knowing how things turned out with 2010 No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford, the Rams waste no time jumping on Flacco, stabilizing their quarterback situation for the next decade.

3) Falcons: Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas

Original pick: Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College.

Talib was drafted: Round 1, No. 20 overall by the Buccaneers.

Talib is a true shutdown corner with good size and long arms. He's very athletic and takes the best receiver most often in Denver, where he's solidified into a perennial Pro Bowler.

4) Raiders: Jamaal Charles, RB, Texas

Original pick: Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas.

Charles was drafted: Round 3, No. 73 overall by the Chiefs.

Late Raiders owner Al Davis told me that if he could do this draft over again, he'd take Charles -- and with the Rams (Steven Jackson) and Falcons (Michael Turner) already possessing starting running backs, Davis gets his man this time. Charles had rare speed (4.38 40) and has the best ever career yards-per-carry mark (5.4) of anyone with 1,000 or more career attempts -- that's better than Jim Brown and Barry Sanders.

5) Chiefs: Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State

Original pick: Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU.

Clady was drafted: Round 1, No. 12 overall by the Broncos.

Clady, who came to Boise State as a defensive lineman, is very athletic and has long arms. He started 16 games at left tackle as a rookie and played in 80 games over his first five seasons. He and Charles are the only two members of this draft class to earn two first-team All-Pro nods.

6) Jets: DeSean Jackson, WR, Cal

Original pick: Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State.

Jackson was drafted: Round 2, No. 49 overall by the Eagles.

Jackson is not big, but the explosive receiver can fly, which he's shown in posting a lifetime yards-per-catch mark of 17.7. He's got a great ability to track the ball and is probably the best I've seen at catching it over his head since Don Hutson. Jackson's 8,819 receiving yards are the most of anyone in this class -- and easily outpace the Jets' most prolific pass-catcher in that span (Dustin Keller, with 2,876).

7) Saints: Chris Johnson, RB, East Carolina

Original pick: Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC.

Johnson was drafted: Round 1, No. 24 overall by the Titans.

Johnson, of course, ran a record-setting 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. He was a do-everything back who could run, catch and return kicks. Durability was a factor, but Johnson was a great backfield weapon in his early days with the Titans. He made the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons and, of course, joined the 2,000-yard club in 2009 with 2,006 yards on 358 carries. Imagine him in an offense led by Drew Brees.

8) Jaguars: Jake Long, OT, Michigan

Original pick: Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida.

Long was drafted: Round 1, No. 1 overall by the Dolphins.

Long started from Year 1 and earned Pro Bowl honors four times and one first-team All-Pro nod in his first four NFL seasons. He was tough, nasty, very athletic and great as both a run- and pass-blocker before injuries got in the way.

9) Bengals: Duane Brown, OL, Virginia Tech

Original pick: Keith Rivers, LB, USC.

Brown was drafted: Round 1, No. 26 overall by the Texans.

Brown, who moved from tight end to offensive tackle while at Virginia Tech, had outstanding athletic ability. Brown has started 132 games, including 76 in his first five years in the NFL. He's made the Pro Bowl three times and was named first-team All-Pro once, in 2012.

10) Patriots: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State

Original pick: Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee.

Rodgers-Cromartie was drafted: Round 1, No. 16 overall by the Cardinals.

Rodgers-Cromartie is not a great tackler, but he has exceptional cover skills. In his first three years in the NFL, he posted 13 picks and has 30 for his career, including six pick-sixes.

11) Bills: Calais Campbell, DL, Miami

Original pick: Leodis McKelvin, DB, Troy.

Campbell was drafted: Round 2, No. 50 overall by the Cardinals.

Campbell played too heavy as a senior, but he has rare size, athleticism and strength. In nine NFL seasons, he's posted 56.5 sacks, with 10 multi-sack games along the way. He also hasn't slowed down much, racking up eight sacks in 2016 and landing a big-money contract with the Jaguars this offseason at age 30.

12) Broncos: Jordy Nelson, WR, Kansas State

Original pick: Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State.

Nelson was drafted: Round 2, No. 36 overall by the Packers.

With Clady gone, Denver scoops up Nelson, the speedy, clutch pass-catcher with excellent size who's helped make the Packers offense go the past five years. He came through in the biggest of big spots in Super Bowl XLV, posting nine catches for 140 yards and a score. He also set a Green Bay record in 2013 with 19 catches of 25-plus yards. Even as a 31-year-old coming off a season lost to a torn ACL, Nelson led the NFL in touchdown catches with 14.

13) Panthers: Matt Forte, RB, Tulane

Original pick: Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon.

Forte was drafted: Round 2, No. 44 overall by the Bears.

Forte played on a very poor Tulane team but ran for 1,200-plus yards as a rookie with the Bears. He also led the team with 63 catches. Forte has very good vision and outstanding pass-catching ability, with two Pro Bowl appearances on his resume.

14) Bears: Cliff Avril, DE, Purdue

Original pick: Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt.

Avril was drafted: Round 3, No. 92 overall by the Lions.

Avril has obvious pass-rush ability, having racked up 73 sacks in nine seasons. He's never recorded fewer than five sacks in any given year, and he matched his career high in 2016 with 11.5 -- at the age of 30.

15) Chiefs: Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee

Original pick: Branden Albert, OT, Virginia.

Mayo was drafted: Round 1, No. 10 overall by the Patriots.

Mayo started 93 games for the Patriots in eight years, including all 16 in his rookie year, which just happened to be the only season in the last 14 seasons in which New England missed the playoffs.

16) Cardinals: Martellus Bennett, TE, Texas A&M

Original pick: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State.

Bennett was drafted: Round 2, No. 61 overall by the Cowboys.

The very athletic Bennett is an excellent receiver who presents a tough matchup problem for defenses. He's not always easy to coach, but when the situation is right, he can be a significant factor with his speed and ability.

17) Lions: Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon

Original pick: Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College.

Stewart was drafted: Round 1, No. 13 overall by the Panthers.

Stewart ran for 1,722 yards in his final season at Oregon despite playing in the spread offense. He's a do-everything type of back who's the second-leading rusher in Panthers history with 6,638 yards. Though he's missed his share of time with various injuries, Stewart would easily qualify as the Lions' leading rusher from 2008 to 2016, with no single Detroit runner topping 2,400 yards in that span.

18) Ravens: Josh Sitton, OL, UCF

Original pick: Joe Flacco, QB, Delaware.

Sitton was drafted: Round 4, No. 135 overall.

Sitton was a pro-day discovery who went on to make the Pro Bowl three times with the Packers and again last season with the Bears. Not a bad consolation prize for the Ravens here, with Flacco off the board.

19) Panthers: Chris Long, DE, Virginia

Original pick: Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh.

Long was drafted: Round 1, No. 2 overall by the Rams.

Long drops quite a bit from his original draft slot, but he's still a first-rounder, a good, solid player who has 100-plus starts and 58.5 sacks to his name. Long and Forte make for a nice first-round haul by Carolina. Between Long, Julius Peppers and Charles Johnson, the Panthers come away from this re-draft with a truly fearsome pass rush.

20) Buccaneers: Carl Nicks, OT, Nebraska

Original pick: Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas.

Nicks was drafted: Round 5, No. 164 by the Saints.

In real life, the Bucs signed Nicks to a five-year, $47.5 million deal in 2012, but a toe injury basically prevented him from ever making an impact. With Talib long gone, Tampa gets its money's worth out of Nicks this time, drafting the player who started 61 games in his first four pro seasons, making the Pro Bowl twice and earning first-team All-Pro honors once in that span.

21) Falcons: Branden Albert, OT, Virginia

Original pick: Sam Baker, OT, USC.

Albert was drafted: Round 1, No. 15 overall by the Chiefs.

Albert is a very athletic player with two Pro Bowls to his name. He's an upgrade for Atlanta over Baker, who started just 61 games over seven seasons in Atlanta.

22) Cowboys: Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers

Original pick: Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas.

Rice was drafted: Round 2, No. 55 overall by the Ravens.

One can't ignore the serious ugliness of what Rice did to bring about his downfall in Baltimore. But it's hard to imagine Rice going completely undrafted, given the levels at which he produced during his prime -- from 2009 (when he first started getting significant carries) to 2012, only Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson ran for more yards in the NFL.

23) Steelers: Pierre Garcon, WR, Mount Union

Original pick: Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois.

Garcon was drafted: Round 6, No. 205 overall by the Colts.

Garcon is a very competitive player who continues to be a contributor, having signed a contract with the 49ers this offseason that includes $20 million guaranteed. His 564 career receptions are the most among any player in this draft class.

24) Titans: Matthew Slater, WR, UCLA

Original pick: Chris Johnson, RB, East Carolina.

Slater was drafted: Round 5, No. 153 overall by the Patriots.

When would you ever take a special teams player in the first round? If you knew he'd earn six Pro Bowl nods, the most of anyone in this draft class. Slater has played receiver and safety for the Patriots, but he's one of the all-time best special teams players, and that is an important facet of the game. With Johnson off the board, the Titans could do worse.

25) Cowboys: Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU

Original pick: Mike Jenkins, DB, South Florida.

Dorsey was drafted: Round 1, No. 5 overall by the Chiefs.

Dorsey has been a very solid player, a reliable starter who has made plenty of plays against the run. Dallas is glad to scoop him up after his fall from the fifth overall spot.

26) Texans: Brandon Carr, DB, Grand Valley State

Original pick: Duane Brown, OT, Virginia Tech.

Carr was drafted: Round 5, No. 140 overall by the Chiefs.

In a bid to raise his visibility as a small-school prospect, Carr worked out at five different pro days -- anyone that would have him, really -- and that's how he ended up being drafted. Carr started 144 consecutive games for the Chiefs and Cowboys and just inked a deal with the Ravens.

27) Chargers: Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech

Original pick: Antoine Cason, DB, Arizona.

Flowers was drafted: Round 2, No. 35 overall by the Chiefs.

As the Bucs did with Carl Nicks, the Chargers jump on a player who ended up signing with them later on as a veteran in real life. In our alternate reality, the Chargers -- and not the Chiefs -- benefit from the 13 picks Flowers collected in his first four pro seasons.

28) Seahawks: Gary Barnidge, TE, Louisville

Original pick: Lawrence Jackson, DE, USC.

Barnidge was drafted: Round 5, No. 141 overall by the Panthers.

This is a bit of an "out there" pick, but after toiling in anonymity for several years, Barnidge proved to be capable of serious production in 2015, catching 79 passes for 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns.

29) 49ers: Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College

Original pick: Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina.

Cherilus was drafted: Round 1, No. 17 overall by the Lions.

Cherilus, who just retired last month, started 113 games from 2008 to 2015 -- he was one of just 15 players in this draft to record eight-plus seasons as a starter.

30) Jets: Tracy Porter, CB, Indiana

Original pick: Dustin Keller, TE, Purdue.

Porter was drafted: Round 2, No. 40 overall by the Saints.

Not many people turn down Nick Saban, but Porter did, keeping his commitment to Indiana rather than joining Saban at LSU. Porter, of course, made a crucial pick-six to help the Saints win Super Bowl XLIV.

31) Giants: Eddie Royal, WR, Virginia Tech

Original pick: Kenny Phillips, DB, Miami.

Royal was drafted: Round 2, No. 42 overall by the Broncos.

A slot receiver with great quickness, Royal posted 91 catches as a rookie. From 2008 to 2013 (the year before Odell Beckham was drafted), only one Giants receiver had more in any one season (Steve Smith, with 107 in 2009).

Follow Gil Brandt on Twitter @Gil_Brandt.

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