2010 NFL Draft Reset: Patriots Pick Up Top-Rated Safety, Can’t Get Rob Gronkowski

Rob GronkowskiThe 2010 NFL draft was deep and loaded with top-tier talent.

The New England Patriots came out of the 2010 draft with future starting safety Devin McCourty, tight end Rob Gronkowski, linebacker Brandon Spikes, tight end Aaron Hernandez, punter Zoltan Mesko and defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick. Only McCourty and Gronkowski remain on the Patriots, but coming out of a draft with two All-Pros is a success.

The Patriots actually traded down twice to get McCourty. They first held the No. 22 overall pick, which the Denver Broncos used to take Demaryius Thomas. Then the Patriots traded out of the 24th pick, where Dez Bryant was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. Passing on two big, talented wide receivers might sting for Patriots fans, but McCourty has morphed into an “elite” free safety.

Leading up to May, NESN.com will reset every NFL draft from 2006 to 2013. See who would have been a first-round pick if NFL teams could redo the 2010 draft.

1. St. Louis Rams: Geno Atkins, defensive tackle, Georgia (drafted No. 120 overall)
Actual pick: Sam Bradford, quarterback, Oklahoma

Before the Patriots played the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 5 of the 2013 season, Bill Belichick said Geno Atkins would have been the first overall pick if the 2010 draft was held again. We’ll take his word for it. Atkins has been an incredible talent.

2. Detroit Lions: Earl Thomas, safety, Texas (No. 14)
Actual pick: Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle, Nebraska

Thomas is the best safety in the NFL and one of the top defensive players in the league. He’s not the loudest member of the Seattle Seahawks’ secondary, but his play back deep is why the “Legion of Boom” clicks.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle, Nebraska (No. 2)
Actual pick: Gerald McCoy, defensive tackle, Oklahoma

Suh didn’t fall too far in the draft reset. Atkins has been better, but the Lions defensive tackle has been nearly as dominant.

4. Washington Redskins: Jimmy Graham, tight end, Miami (No. 95)
Actual pick: Trent Williams, offensive tackle, Oklahoma

Graham’s ability to stay healthy makes him the top tight end in the draft. He had 86 catches for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2013.

5. Kansas City Chiefs: Rob Gronkowski tight end, Arizona (No. 42)
Actual pick: Eric Berry, safety, Tennessee

Gronkowski’s a better overall player than Graham, but he’s too much of an injury risk to be taken over the Saints tight end. Gronkowski’s had an unbelievable start to his career, however, and that should continue if he can stay on the field.

6. Seattle Seahawks: Dez Bryant, wide receiver, Oklahoma State (No. 24)
Actual pick: Russell Okung, offensive tackle, Oklahoma State

There were some off-the-field concerns about Bryant before the 2010 draft, but the Cowboys wide receiver has stayed out of trouble. He has emerged as one of the league’s best wideouts.

7. Cleveland Browns: NaVorro Bowman, linebacker, Penn State (No. 91)
Actual pick: Joe Haden, cornerback, Florida

It’s rare for a linebacker to be taken so high, but Bowman has been a three-time first-team All-Pro. It’s amazing that he fell to the third round.

8. Oakland Raiders: Demaryius Thomas, wide receiver, Georgia Tech (No. 22)
Actual pick: Rolando McClain, linebacker, Alabama

Through the help of quarterback Peyton Manning, the once-raw Thomas is now a force to be reckoned with. He had 92 receptions for 1,430 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2013.

9. Buffalo Bills: Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive end, South Florida (No. 15)
Actual pick: C.J. Spiller, running back, Clemson

Pierre-Paul’s sack numbers have fallen off the past two years, but he’s still getting after the quarterback and, as Rotoworld’s Josh Norris says, “disruption is production.” If Pierre-Paul can stay healthy, another 16.5-sack season should be in the Giants defensive end’s future.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trent Williams, offensive tackle, Oklahoma (No. 4)
Actual pick: Tyson Alualu, defensive tackle, California

Williams has emerged as one of the league’s best offensive tackles during the past two years, when he was named to his first two Pro Bowls. It’s safe to say Alualu would not be a first-round pick if the Jaguars could make this pick again.

11. Chicago Bears: Gerald McCoy, defensive tackle, Oklahoma (No. 3)
Actual pick: Selection traded to San Francisco 49ers, who took Rutgers offensive tackle Anthony Davis

It’s a testament to the strength of this draft that McCoy drops all the way to No. 11 overall. He’s a disruptive force in the middle of the Buccaneers’ defense.

12. Miami Dolphins: Greg Hardy, defensive end, Ole Miss (No. 175)
Actual pick: Traded selection to San Diego Chargers, who took Fresno State running back Ryan Matthews

Hardy was one of the best players to enter free agency this offseason. The former sixth-round pick would go much higher today.

13. San Francisco 49ers: Antonio Brown, wide receiver, Central Michigan (No. 195)
Actual pick: Selection traded to Philadelphia Eagles, who took Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham

This draft was loaded with pass catchers from top to bottom. Brown, a sixth-rounder, had 110 catches for 1,499 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013.

14. Denver Broncos: Devin McCourty, safety, Rutgers (No. 27)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Seahawks, who picked Texas safety Earl Thomas

McCourty started his career as a Pro Bowl cornerback, then got moved to safety and was voted a second-team All-Pro in 2013. The position switch was seamless for the former Scarlet Knight.

15. New York Giants: Kam Chancellor, safety, Virginia Tech (No. 133)
Actual pick: Pierre-Paul

Chancellor proved his worth in the Seahawks’ Super Bowl XLVIII victory. He only comes in lower than McCourty because strong safeties are easier to find than free safeties. Chancellor’s coverage ability makes him special.

16. Tennessee Titans: Victor Cruz, wide receiver, UMass (undrafted)
Actual pick: Derrick Morgan, defensive end, Georgia Tech

This draft was so loaded with receivers that Cruz wasn’t drafted out of college. He’s one of the best undrafted players in the NFL.

17. Carolina Panthers: Joe Haden, cornerback, Florida (No. 7)
Actual pick: Traded selection to 49ers, who took Idaho guard Mike Iupati

Haden was a great pick for the Browns, but he’s been slightly inconsistent during his four-year career. That drops him in the first round of this draft reset.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers: Anthony Davis, offensive tackle, Rutgers (No. 11)
Actual pick: Maurkice Pouncey, center, Florida

Davis has improved every year since being a first-round pick in 2011. He was once a weakness on the 49ers’ offensive line. Now he’s one of the biggest strengths as Colin Kaepernick’s blind-side protector.

19. Atlanta Falcons: Lamarr Houston, defensive end, Texas (No. 44)
Actual pick: Sean Weatherspoon, linebacker, Missouri

Houston just signed a five-year, $35 million contract with the Bears in free agency. He’s a versatile talent who can play defensive end or tackle and is equally productive against the pass and run.

20. Houston Texans: T.J. Ward, safety, Oregon (No. 38)
Actual pick: Kareem Jackson, cornerback, Alabama

Ward is one of the best strong safeties in the NFL. He was a Pro Bowl selection and second-team All-Pro in 2013.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Alterraun Verner, cornerback, UCLA (No. 104)
Actual pick: Jermaine Gresham, tight end, Oklahoma

Verner has quietly become one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. He signed a four-year, $25.5 million contract with the Buccaneers this offseason.

22. New England Patriots: Eric Berry, safety, Tennessee (No. 5)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Broncos, who took Demaryius Thomas

The Patriots couldn’t get McCourty, so they’ll grab Berry, who has dealt with injuries and inconsistency in his four-year career. He had a great 2013 season, however.

23. Green Bay Packers: Mike Iupati, guard, Idaho (No. 17)
Actual pick: Bryan Bulaga, offensive tackle, Iowa

The Packers would grab a better offensive lineman in Iupati if they could redo the 2013 draft. Bulaga has been solid when he’s been on the field, but he’s dealt with injuries during his four-year career.

24. Philadelphia Eagles: Daryl Washington, linebacker, TCU (No. 47)
Actual pick: Selection traded to Dallas Cowboys, who took Bryant

The Eagles would have to look past Washington’s off-the-field issues to grab him in the first round. He’s one of the most versatile linebackers in the NFL.

25. Baltimore Ravens: Sam Shields, cornerback, Miami (undrafted)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Broncos, who took Florida quarterback Tim Tebow

Shields was overlooked in the 2010 draft, but he was finally recognized his offseason when he signed a four-year, $39 million contract with the Packers.

26. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Decker, wide receiver, Minnesota (No. 87)
Actual pick: Dan Williams, defensive tackle, Tennessee

Decker was a fantastic No. 2 receiver behind Thomas in Denver and just signed a big deal with the New York Jets. He could serve the same role for the Cardinals behind Larry Fitzgerald.

27. Dallas Cowboys: C.J. Spiller, running back, Clemson (No. 9)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Patriots, who took McCourty

Spiller is the only running back to be taken in the first round in this redraft. He’s not worth a top-10 pick, but he still has the potential to be one of the NFL’s rare “special” running backs.

28. San Diego Chargers: Linval Joseph, defensive tackle, East Carolina (No. 46)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Dolphins, who took Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick

Joseph signed a well-deserved five-year, $31.5 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings this offseason. He’s a rare nose tackle who also can disrupt the quarterback.

29. New York Jets: Sam Bradford, quarterback, Oklahoma (No. 1)
Actual pick: Kyle Wilson, cornerback, Boise State

The Jets had just drafted Mark Sanchez with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2009 draft, but Bradford has definitely been the better pro during his four-year career. He hasn’t exactly been a bust, but he also hasn’t lived up to his lofty expectations.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Sean Weatherspoon, linebacker, Missouri (No. 19)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Lions, who took California running back Jahvid Best

The Falcons’ defense struggled when Weatherspoon went down with a Lisfranc injury in 2013. Weatherspoon is a versatile linebacker who can cover and stop the run.

31. Indianapolis Colts: Reshad Jones, safety, Georgia (No. 163)
Actual pick: Jerry Hughes, defensive end, TCU

The Dolphins felt it was necessary to lock up Jones to a long-term deal before he hit free agency this offseason. He’s one of the league’s better safeties.

32. New Orleans Saints: Russell Okung, offensive tackle, Oklahoma State (No. 6)
Actual pick: Patrick Robinson, cornerback, Florida State

Okung has the chance to be special if he can avoid injuries. He hasn’t been successful at staying healthy during his four-year NFL career, however.

Other NFL draft resets: 2006|2007|2008|2009

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