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.
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:
1. Miami Dolphins
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
3. Atlanta Falcons
4. Oakland Raiders
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
6. New York Jets
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
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
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
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.
Best values of 2008 draft
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.
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.
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.
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.