The Tennessee Titans probably wouldn’t pick Vince Young No. 3 overall if they could redo the 2006 NFL draft.
Eight years have passed since the great draft debate of 2006. It turns out the Houston Texans made the right pick when they chose N.C. State defensive end Mario Williams over Young and USC running back Reggie Bush.
The Texans have a similar choice this year. They can go with South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney or one of the top quarterbacks — Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater or Central Florida’s Blake Bortles. Reactions likely will be mixed no matter whom Bill O’Brien and the Texans choose, but we won’t know for sure if it was the right pick until years down the road.
NESN.com will redraft each year’s player pool leading up to the 2014 NFL draft. Based on entire careers, even Williams didn’t turn out to be the perfect pick at No. 1.
Check out how the 2006 draft should have gone down.
1. Houston Texans: Haloti Ngata, defensive tackle, Oregon (drafted No. 12 overall)
Previous pick: Mario Williams, defensive end, N.C. State
No one knew it at the time, but Ngata was the best player in the 2006 draft. He has racked up five Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections and continues to shine as the Baltimore Ravens’ nose tackle.
2. New Orleans Saints: Tamba Hali, outside linebacker, Penn State (No. 20)
Actual pick: Reggie Bush, running back, USC
Pass rushers are as valuable as ever in the NFL, and Hali was the best in this class. Hali has only improved with age, with 46.5 sacks over the last four seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs.
3. Tennessee Titans: Brandon Marshall, wide receiver, Central Florida (No. 119)
Actual pick: Vince Young, quarterback, Texas
After excelling for three different NFL teams, Marshall has proven he could have succeeded no matter where he was drafted. The 2006 Titans would have been better off letting Kerry Collins throw to Marshall than to waste their No. 3 pick on Young.
4. New York Jets: Jay Cutler, quarterback, Vanderbilt (No. 11)
Actual pick: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, offensive tackle, Virginia
The whole Mark Sanchez debacle could have been avoided if the Jets drafted Cutler instead. The Ferguson pick wound up working out, but Cutler would have been an interesting fit with the Jets.
5. Green Bay Packers: Mario Williams, defensive end, N.C. State (No. 1)
Actual pick: A.J. Hawk, linebacker, Ohio State
Williams doesn’t fall far in the 2006 redraft. The actual No. 1 overall pick has the most sacks of any player in his draft class.
6. San Francisco 49ers: Jahri Evans, guard, Bloomsberg (No. 108)
Actual pick: Vernon Davis, tight end, Maryland
The 49ers could have started fixing their offensive line earlier than 2007, when they selected offensive tackle Joe Staley. A case could be made that Evans was the best player in the 2006 draft. The fact that he’s a guard drops him to No. 6, however.
7. Oakland Raiders: Kyle Williams, defensive tackle, LSU (No. 134)
Actual pick: Michael Huff, safety, Texas
It’s easy to second-guess any Raiders draft pick. Huff wasn’t a bad pick, but Williams would have been much better as a disruptive interior lineman.
8. Buffalo Bills: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, offensive tackle, Virginia (No. 4)
Actual pick: Donte Whitner, safety, Ohio State
Whitner has been a solid pro, but franchise left tackles like Ferguson are hard to find.
9. Detroit Lions: Marques Colston, wide receiver, Hofstra (No. 252)
Actual pick: Ernie Sims, linebacker, Florida State
The Saints got the steal of the draft in Colston, who would be a top-10 pick if the teams did it all over again.
10. Arizona Cardinals: Vernon Davis, tight end, Maryland (No. 6)
Actual pick: Matt Leinart, quarterback, USC
It took awhile — and a Mike Singletary shunning — for Davis to become the player he is today. The Cardinals would be lucky to get him at No. 10, rather than the draft-bust Leinart. Better yet, Davis wouldn’t be on the NFC West rival 49ers.
11. St. Louis Rams: Andrew Whitworth, offensive tackle, LSU (No. 55)
Actual pick: Rams traded pick to Denver Broncos, who took Vanderbilt QB Jay Cutler
Whitworth has bounced from tackle to guard to tackle and back to guard, and he has shined in every role. The Rams wouldn’t have needed to waste the No. 2 overall pick on Jason Smith in 2009 if they had Whitworth.
12. Cleveland Browns: Donald Penn, offensive tackle, Utah State (Undrafted)
Actual pick: Browns traded pick to Baltimore Ravens, who took Oregon defensive tackle Haloti Ngata
The Browns still could have taken Joe Thomas in 2007, but Penn would have given Cleveland a stellar pair of bookend tackles.
13. Baltimore Ravens: Johnathan Joseph, cornerback, South Carolina (No. 24)
Actual pick: Ravens traded pick to the Browns, who took Florida State defensive end Kamerion Wimbley
The Ravens scored while trading up for Ngata with the No. 12 pick, but staying put and grabbing Joseph is a good move as well.
14. Phildelphia Eagles: Nick Mangold, center, Ohio State (No. 29)
Actual pick: Broderick Bunkley, defensive tackle, Florida State
It would be hard to pass up the five-time Pro Bowl selection if the Eagles could do it all over again.
15. Atlanta Falcons: Elvis Dumervil, defensive end, Louisville (No. 126)
Actual pick: Falcons traded pick to Rams (via Broncos), who took Clemson cornerback Tye Hill
The Falcons traded away their first-round pick in 2006. They could have grabbed a top pass rusher instead.
16. Miami Dolphins: Maurice Jones-Drew, running back, UCLA (No. 60)
Actual pick: Jason Allen, safety, Tennessee
The Dolphins might have been hesitant to take another running back with Ronnie Brown already on the roster, but it’s tough to pass up a player like Jones-Drew.
17. Minnesota Vikings: Donte Whitner, safety, Ohio State (No. 8)
Actual pick: Chad Greenway, linebacker, Iowa
Greenway worked out just fine for the Vikings, but Whitner is still playing at a high level, while Greenway has dropped off.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Manny Lawson, N.C. State (No. 22)
Actual pick: Bobby Carpenter, linebacker, Ohio State
Carpenter is out of the league, while the versatile Lawson is still going strong. This is an easy choice to make.
19. San Diego Chargers: Antonio Cromartie, cornerback, Florida State (No. 19)
Actual pick: Cromartie
If the Chargers could do it all over again, why not just keep Cromartie? Maybe they wouldn’t trade him to the Jets this time.
20. Kansas City Chiefs: Greg Jennings, wide receiver, Western Michigan (No. 52)
Actual pick: Tamba Hali, outside linebacker, Penn State
The Chiefs have needed another receiver to pair with Dwayne Bowe for years. Bowe and Jennings would have been a top receiving duo.
21. New England Patriots: Reggie Bush, running back, USC (No. 2)
Actual pick: Laurence Maroney, running back, Minnesota
Bush never quite worked out with the Saints, but he has been a top running back since moving on to the Dolphins and Lions. If Bush was drafted by the Patriots to play the Kevin Faulk/Danny Woodhead/Shane Vereen role, his career could have turned out much differently. He certainly would have been a better selection than Maroney.
22. Washington Redskins: Stephen Tulloch, linebacker, N.C. State (No. 116)
Actual pick: Redskins traded pick to the 49ers (via the Broncos), who took N.C. State linebacker Manny Lawson
The Redskins traded out of the first round and took linebacker Rocky McIntosh with their first pick. They would have been better off staying put and taking Tulloch.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brent Grimes, cornerback, Shippensburg (undrafted)
Actual pick: Davis Joseph, guard, Oklahoma
It’s a wonder how a player as good as Grimes went undrafted. That couldn’t happen again.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Tim Jennings, cornerback, Georgia (No. 62)
Actual pick: Johnathan Joseph, cornerback, South Carolina
The Bengals probably would have wanted Joseph again, but he’s long gone in the redraft. They wind up with a solid replacement in Jennings.
25. New York Giants: Tramon Williams, cornerback, Louisiana Tech (Undrafted)
Actual pick: Giants traded pick to Pittsburgh Steelers, who took Ohio State wide receiver Santonio Holmes
The Giants wound up with a solid player in Mathias Kiwanuka when they traded down to No. 32 overall, but Williams has been more consistent since going undrafted out of Louisiana Tech.
26. Chicago Bears: Eric Winston, offensive tackle, Miami (No. 66)
Actual pick: Bears traded pick to Buffalo Bills, who took N.C. State defensive tackle John McCargo
The Bears could have fixed their offensive line for years if they selected Winston, whose play only started to drop off in 2013.
27. Carolina Panthers: Antoine Bethea, safety, Howard (No. 207)
Actual pick: DeAngelo Williams, running back, Memphis
Bethea is one of five small-school prospects we have going in the first round of the redraft.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars: Devin Hester, kick returner, Miami (No. 57)
Actual pick: Marcedes Lewis, tight end, UCLA
Hester is an odd player to place since his value only comes on special teams. He was a game-changer early in his career, which still warrants a first-round pick.
29. Denver Broncos: DeAngelo Williams, running back, Memphis (No. 27)
Actual pick: Broncos traded pick to Jets (via Falcons), who took Ohio State center Nick Mangold
It’s tough to justify taking a running back in the first round in today’s NFL, but the talent level starts to drop off a bit toward the end. Williams has been a solid pro throughout his eight-year career.
30. Indianapolis Colts: Chad Greenway, linebacker, Iowa (No. 17)
Actual pick: Joseph Addai, running back, LSU
Greenway’s play has started to drop off, but at least he’s still in the league, which is more than Addai can say.
31. Seattle Seahawks: Rob Ninkovich, defensive end, Purdue (No. 135)
Actual pick: Kelly Jennings, cornerback, Miami
Ninkovich’s career got off to a slow start as he bounced between the Saints and Dolphins. He’s been playing at a near-Pro Bowl level since being signed by the Patriots, however.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cortland Finnegan, cornerback, Samford (No. 215)
Actual pick: Steelers traded pick to Giants, who took Boston College defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka
The Steelers get a top cornerback with their No. 32 pick. Their real first-round pick, Santonio Holmes, likely would be a second-rounder on a redraft, despite his Super Bowl MVP.
Other players such as Addai and Holmes came close to being first-rounders in the re-draft. Kiwanuka, Roman Harper, Miles Austin, Bernard Pollard, Daryn Colledge, DeMeco Ryans, Marcus McNeill, Jeromey Clary and Kamerion Wimbley would be among the high second-round picks.
Over the next six weeks, we’ll reset every draft class leading up to the 2014 NFL draft. Check out the 2007 redraft.