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JULIE JACOBSON/Associated Press
The 2005 NFL draft is known for two things: the player who went first overall, and the one who didn’t.
It’s not that anyone really believed Alex Smith wasn’t deserving of the first overall pick at the time. The Utah star was coming off a season in which he had passed for almost 3,000 yards and 32 touchdowns with just four interceptions. He added another 631 yards and 10 scores on the ground.
Many have forgotten in the 15 years since, but Smith could run.
To his credit, Smith had a fine NFL career, leading two franchises to the playoffs. But it’s a fellow quarterback from Cal who has gone on to define the class of 2005, building a Hall of Fame resume as the successor to another all-time great in Green Bay.
There’s very little (as in, no) doubt that if they had it to do all over again, the San Francisco 49ers would have drafted Aaron Rodgers first overall. But how long might it have taken Smith to come off the board. What about edge-rusher DeMarcus Ware? Or Frank Gore (who fell all the way to Round 3)? Or longtime Eagles stalwart Trent Cole, who wasn’t selected until the fifth round?
We’ve fired up the hindsight-o-meter and a time machine to answer those questions by going back to 2005 to take another pass through that year’s draft.
So put some Nickelback on your iPod Mini and let’s get after it.
The San Francisco 49ers are on the clock.
NOTE: Only trades that were completed before the 2005 NFL draft got underway are included here.
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Ben Margot/Associated Press
Original Pick: Alex Smith, QB, Utah
New Pick: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Cal
This re-draft isn’t going to take long to rewrite history. One pick in, the most indelible image of the 2005 draft has already gone POOF!
There won’t be any awkward camera shots of Aaron Rodgers in the green room as team after team passes on him. There won’t be any slide to the 24th overall pick.
And Titletown wept.
Rodgers’ accomplishments speak for themselves. In 15 seasons, he has thrown for almost 47,000 yards and 364 touchdowns against just 84 interceptions. He has been named to the Pro Bowl eight times and has won Most Valuable Player honors twice. His passer rating of 102.4 is the highest in NFL history, and he led the Pack to a win in Super Bowl XLV at the end of the 2010 season.
The Niners have been to two Super Bowls since Rodgers was drafted, losing both.
With No. 12 under center in the Bay Area the past 15 years, it likely would have been a much different story.
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David Zalubowski/Associated Press
Original Pick: Ronnie Brown, RB, Auburn
New Pick: DeMarcus Ware, EDGE, Troy
Ronnie Brown never lived up to his status as the second overall pick in the NFL draft, but he wasn’t a complete bust with the Dolphins. In six seasons in Miami, he had at least 200 rushing attempts four times and even topped 1,000 yards back in 2006.
But Brown wasn’t even the best running back in the class of 2005, and he’s certainly not the best player available in this re-draft.
Over 12 seasons in the NFL, edge-rusher DeMarcus Ware piled up 138.5 sacks—ninth-most in league history. By his second season, Ware had hit double digits with the Dallas Cowboys. In his fourth season, Ware racked up 20 sacks and led the NFL in that category for the first time. He repeated the feat with a 15.5-sack outburst in 2010.
Pairing Ware and Jason Taylor would have given the Dolphins one of the most formidable pass-rushing duos in NFL history—and given quarterbacks in the AFC East nightmares.
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Elise Amendola/Associated Press
Original Pick: Braylon Edwards, WR, Michigan
New Pick: Logan Mankins, OG, Fresno State
There were a couple of constants in the NFL draft over the first part of the 21st century. The first was the Cleveland Browns having a high draft pick. The second was the team misusing that draft capital.
Braylon Edwards was actually one of the better picks the Browns made over the span. He racked up 80 catches for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns in a 2007 Pro Bowl season. But by 2009, Edwards was out of Cleveland.
The Browns struggled up front a big way en route to a 6-10 record in 2005—the team ranked outside the top 20 in both run blocking and pass protection, per Football Outsiders.
Picking a guard at No. 3 overall would turn more than a few heads, but over 11 seasons in New England and Tampa Bay, Logan Mankins showed himself to be worth it. He was named to seven Pro Bowls, including five in a row from 2009 to 2013.
A quarterback would make sense here, but making sense was anathema to the Browns for years.
Plus, they had Trent (giggle) Dilfer.
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Tony Avelar/Associated Press
Original Pick: Cedric Benson, RB, Texas
New Pick: Frank Gore, RB, Miami (Fla.)
The Chicago Bears came into the 2005 NFL draft looking to bolster a ground game that ranked 26th in the league in 2004, averaging just 3.8 yards per carry.
The Bears added a tailback with the fourth overall pick…they just didn’t pick the right one.
After a modest 608 rushing yards as a rookie with the San Francisco 49ers in 2005, Frank Gore peeled off 2,180 total yards and averaged 5.4 yards per carry in 2006. It was the beginning of an impressive run of consistency. From 2006 to 2017, Gore topped 1,000 total yards in 12 straight seasons. He also topped 1,000 rushing yards 10 times over that span.
A five-time Pro Bowler and member of the NFL’s All-2010s Team, Gore’s 15,347 career rushing yards trails only Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton.
He’ll be a mortal lock for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame—assuming he ever stops playing.
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Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press
Original Pick: Cadillac Williams, RB, Auburn
New Pick: Alex Smith, QB, Utah
The fact that three of the top five picks in the 2005 NFL draft were running backs speaks to how much the league has changed in the last 15 years.
That none of that trio had great pro careers speaks to a draft class in ’05 that was…not great.
To his credit, Cadillac Williams did win Offensive Rookie of the Year honors while helping the Buccaneers get back to the playoffs in 2005. But afforded another bite at the apple, the Buccaneers would instead upgrade a QB depth chart headlined by Luke McCown and Chris Simms.
Alex Smith wasn’t the smash hit early in his career that the San Francisco 49ers hoped they were getting when they drafted him first overall, but he grew into a capable NFL starter. In 14 seasons with the Niners, Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins, Smith has posted a career record of 94-66-1, made three Pro Bowls and led the NFL in passer rating in 2017.
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ROGELIO V. SOLIS/Associated Press
Original Pick: Adam “Pacman” Jones, CB, West Virginia
New Pick: Jammal Brown, OT, Oklahoma
The Tennessee Titans came into the 2005 season with a need at offensive tackle, and the team addressed that in Round 2 with the selection of Michael Roos.
We may well hear from Roos again before this re-draft is over. But he wasn’t the best tackle to come from the class of 2005—at least for a time.
His career was cut short by injuries, but when he was healthy and on top of his game, Jammal Brown was as good as any left tackle in the game. A two-time Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro back in 2006, Brown had everything an NFL team could want at the position, including power, quickness and a 6’6″, 317-pound frame.
Had Brown not lost two entire seasons to injuries, he’d get a lot more run than he has.
But in a weak class up front, his excellent tenure with the New Orleans Saints is still enough to get him picked in the top 10.
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Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press
Original Pick: Troy Williamson, WR, South Carolina
New Pick: Roddy White, WR, UAB
The Minnesota Vikings would gladly take a do-over on their first pick in 2005; Troy Williamson’s career stat line of 87 catches for 1,131 yards and four touchdowns is the equivalent of one decent season from a player picked in the top 10.
Never mind that this pick was acquired from Oakland in the trade that sent Randy Moss to the Raiders.
With Moss gone, wide receiver remains a massive need for these hindsight-equipped Vikings, who stick with the same position…
And a much better player.
It took Roddy White a little while to get his sea legs at the professional level. But beginning with his third season, White was one of the most productive receivers in the game. From 2007 to 2012, he piled up at least 1,100 receiving yards in six straight seasons. He also caught 100 or more passes twice, paced the NFL with 115 grabs in 2010 and made it to four straight Pro Bowls from 2008-2011.
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Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Original Pick: Antrel Rolle, CB, Miami (Fla.)
New Pick: Antrel Rolle, CB, Miami (Fla.)
This one is a toughie. It can be argued that there are players available in this spot who went on to have a better career than defensive back Antrel Rolle.
Rolle was drafted in the hopes he’d be a shutdown corner. But the 6’0″ 206-pounder moved to the slot in 2007 and then free safety the following year.
It’s there where he really blossomed.
Paired with strong safety Adrian Wilson, the Cardinals possessed arguably the best safety duo in the game before releasing Rolle in 2010 in a cost-cutting move. Rolle made the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2009 before joining the New York Giants and becoming (at the time) the highest-paid safety in NFL history.
Rolle would go on to make two more Pro Bowls with the G-Men, starting at deep safety for the team that upset the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
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David Richard/Associated Press
Original Pick: Carlos Rogers, CB, Auburn
New Pick: Thomas Davis Sr., LB, Georgia
Compared to quite a few teams in 2005, the Washington Redskins actually did pretty well at No. 9 overall—Carlos Rogers played for a decade in the pros and made a Pro Bowl.
But there are several players who were selected later that had better careers, including an off-ball linebacker who could have been a fixture on defense for Washington for a long time.
Thomas Davis had his share of bad breaks in the NFL. He tore the ACL in his right knee in 2009. And in 2010. And in 2011. He actually ruptured the ACL three times in 23 months. At the time, no player had ever returned to the field after three ACL tears.
Davis didn’t just return; he thrived. Davis earned three Pro Bowl trips (and a first-team All-Pro nod) after the injuries. When the Carolina Panthers advanced to Super Bowl 50 in 2015, Davis played against the Denver Broncos with a broken forearm.
Davis is one of the toughest players of his generation and a tackle vacuum who topped 100 stops seven times. And he’s still playing. On March 26, he signed a free-agent deal to play for…
Wait for it…
The Washington Redskins.
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Jason Behnken/Associated Press
Original Pick: Mike Williams, WR, USC
New Pick: Vincent Jackson, WR, Northern Colorado
In 2005, the Detroit Lions were in the middle of a stretch that saw the team spend four first-round picks in five years on wide receivers. The last of those picks in 2007 netted the team a superstar in Calvin Johnson.
The other three, um, did not.
Vincent Jackson wasn’t the pro player that Megatron was. But he was light-years better than Mike Williams. And Charles Rogers. And Roy Williams.
The Matt Millen era was…something.
Over 12 seasons with the San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jackson used his 6’5″ frame to pile up 9,080 receiving yards and 57 touchdowns. Jackson went over the 1,000-yard mark six times (including four straight years from 2011-2014) and made three Pro Bowls.
It can’t be said with certainty that pairing Jackson and Johnson would have gotten the Lions their first playoff win of the 21st century.
But Detroit’s aerial attack would have been pretty scary.
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David Duprey/Associated Press
Original Pick: DeMarcus Ware, EDGE, Troy
New Pick: Shawne Merriman, EDGE, Maryland
The Dallas Cowboys hit their first selection in the 2005 draft out of the park with the DeMarcus Ware pick. But in this redo, Ware’s a goner, and Dallas is forced back to the drawing board.
If only there was another edge-rusher still on the board who was a force in the NFL.
Shawne Merriman was from the minute he set foot on an NFL field. After a standout career at Maryland, Merriman brought home Defensive Rookie of the Year honors after tallying 10 sacks in 2005. By 2006, he led the NFL with 17 sacks. He piled up 12.5 in 2007 and appeared headed for the Hall of Fame.
Then the bottom fell out.
Merriman missed nearly the entire 2008 season with torn ligaments in his knee. Those knee issues (and a foot injury) limited him to four sacks in 2009. After just three games (and zero sacks) in 2010, Merriman was back on IR and done with the Chargers. By 2013, his NFL career was over.
Merriman’s career ended tragically, but just those first three seasons are enough to keep him in the top half of Round 1.
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Bill Kostroun/Associated Press
Original Pick: Shawne Merriman, EDGE, Maryland
New Pick: Justin Tuck, DE, Notre Dame
This pick went to San Diego as part of the 2004 trade that sent quarterback Eli Manning to the Big Apple. Given that, it’s somewhat fitting that the musical edge-rushers of the last few picks leads the Chargers to take a defensive lineman who would up a stalwart for the Giants.
Justin Tuck never led the NFL in sacks like Ware or Merriman. And where that duo was about speed off the edge, Tuck was a power rusher who often kicked inside to tackle in sub-packages. But the 6’5″, 265-pounder racked up 66.5 sacks over 11 years with the Giants and Oakland Raiders, piling up 10 or more in four different seasons. The two-time Pro Bowler was also an excellent edge-setter who helped the Giants make it to (and win) two Super Bowls.
It can be argued that Tuck wasn’t a great player. But he was very good for a very long time.
And as we’re about to see more and more, in 2005, that rated the 12th overall selection.
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Ed Zurga/Associated Press
Original Pick: Travis Johnson, DT, Florida State
New Pick: Derrick Johnson, ILB, Texas
In 2005, the Houston Texans were still in their infancy as a franchise. The team had needs all over the place on both sides of the ball.
That Houston traded down, giving the New Orleans Saints the 13th overall pick, and then used the No. 16 pick on a player who managed just three sacks in six NFL seasons in Travis Johnson was a major mistake.
This re-draft affords Houston a theoretical attempt to rectify that error, and going best player available here makes sense.
Derrick Johnson spent well over a decade as a fixture in the middle of the defense for the Kansas City Chiefs. As a rookie, Johnson amassed 96 tackles. By Year 3 of his career, he topped 90 stops and added four sacks. By 2010, he really hit his stride. From them through 2015, Johnson topped 100 stops five times in six years and made it to four Pro Bowls.
He’s the sort of player the Texans could have built around defensively.
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David Richard/Associated Press
Original Pick: Thomas Davis Sr., LB, Georgia
New Pick: Adam Jones, CB, West Virginia
The Carolina Panthers were one of the surprise teams of the 2005 season. After going 7-9 in 2004, the Panthers improved to 11-5 and made it all the way to the NFC Championship Game.
Here, things haven’t gone as well. It’s not just that Thomas Davis is already off the board, but also that another player who could have filled that hole quite nicely was just selected one pick earlier in Derrick Johnson.
The dreaded double-whammy.
Said whammy changes the plan for the Panthers, who pivot to the secondary and one of the most mercurial NFL players of the 21st century.
Adam Jones had a laundry list of off-field incidents and was out of the league in 2009 after flaming out in Dallas and Tennessee. But even early on, Jones showed flashes of the talent that made him the first defender drafted in 2005.
Later in his career, though, Jones got another chance and played eight mostly solid years in Cincinnati, where was voted a first-team All-Pro in 2014 and made the Pro Bowl in 2015.
If the draft can get a do-over, so can Pacman.
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Gus Ruelas/Associated Press
Original Pick: Derrick Johnson, LB, Texas
New Pick: Jay Ratliff, DT, Auburn
Back in the 2005 draft, Jay Ratliff fell all the way to the seventh round, in large part because he was considered undersized for his position. He wasn’t even invited to the scouting combine that year.
As it was, Ratliff was just ahead of his time—a preview of what a smaller, faster tackle could do to disrupt the pocket. He went to play 11 years in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears. He was playing substantial snaps by his second season in the pros and made his first of four consecutive Pro Bowls in 2008.
From 2006 to 2011, Ratliff piled up 26 sacks, including 6.0 in that 2009 campaign in which he was also named a first-team All-Pro.
Not getting Derrick Johnson here is a blow for a Chiefs team that made the postseason just twice from 2005-2012. But given the less-than-imposing cast the Chiefs had at DT at the time, Ratliff isn’t a bad consolation prize.
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Joe Howell/Associated Press
Original Pick: Jammal Brown, OT, Oklahoma
New Pick: Michael Roos, OT, Eastern Washington
We seem to be developing a theme in the middle portion of this 2005 re-draft: teams whose players have been yanked out from under them going to a secondary option at the same position of need.
The Saints traded up to get Brown in 2005, but that’s not an option here. Another tackle is, though.
After playing collegiately at Eastern Washington, Michael Roos didn’t enter the NFL with the momentum that Jammal Brown had coming out of Oklahoma. But that didn’t stop him from carving out an excellent decade-long career for the Tennessee Titans.
Roos was never the elite option that Brown was in his prime, either. But the 6’7″, 313-pounder started 148 games for Tennessee and was both a Pro Bowler and a first-team All-Pro in 2008.
One year after this draft happened, a young quarterback by the name of Drew Brees arrived in the Big Easy.
Having a dependable, durable tackle holding down one side of the line for Brees for 10 years or so wouldn’t be the worst thing ever.
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Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
Original Pick: David Pollack, LB, Georgia
New Pick: Trent Cole, DE, Cincinnati
It’s not fair to call the selection of David Pollack 17th overall a bad pick—it was just bad luck. Pollack played relatively well as a rookie before suffering a career-ending neck injury in the second game of his second season in the NFL.
It doesn’t get mentioned much, but the class of 2005 was rather stacked at linebacker.
It was also loaded with some excellent edge-rushers, although not all of them went in the first round.
Trent Cole wasn’t selected by the Philadelphia Eagles until Round 5. After starting seven games as a rookie and notching five sacks, Cole was a full-time starter by his second season. In his third season, he posted a career-high 12.5 sacks, a number he would go on to match in 2009.
In 12 seasons with the Eagles and Indianapolis Colts, Cole hit the 10-sack mark four times, totaled 90.5 sacks for his career and made the Pro Bowl twice.
Among Eagles players, only Reggie White got to opposing quarterbacks more than Cole.
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Nick Wass/Associated Press
Original Pick: Erasmus James, DE, Wisconsin
New Pick: Ronnie Brown, RB, Auburn
The 2005 Vikings were something of a hot mess on offense. After ranking second in the NFL in passing in 2004, an injury to Daunte Culpepper and the departure of Randy Moss sent the passing game into a tailspin.
We’ve already added Roddy White in an effort to correct that deficiency. Now it’s time to bolster a ground game that was spearheaded in 2005 by the immortal Mewelde “MeMo” Moore and his 662 rushing yards.
Ronnie Brown admittedly never lived up to his status as the second overall pick in 2005. He only topped 1,000 yards on the ground once in his 10-year career.
But he did top 1,000 total yards three separate times (including his rookie season with the Miami Dolphins) and made it to the Pro Bowl in 2008.
Brown might not be Frank Gore. But he isn’t MeMo either.
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Chris Ochsner/Associated Press
Original Pick: Alex Barron, OT, Florida State
New Pick: Matt Cassel, QB, USC
The 2005 Rams were about to be in a world of hurt. After going 8-8 in 2004, 6-10 in 2005 and 8-8 again in 2006, St. Louis went through one of the worst three-year stretches in modern NFL history. From 2007 to 2009, the Rams won six games…total.
That futility led the Rams to the first overall pick in 2010, which led the Rams to select Sam Bradford, which didn’t turn out especially well. But what if the Rams hadn’t been so bad for so long?
St. Louis actually drafted a clean-shaven young quarterback from Harvard in 2005 named Ryan Fitzpatrick, but there was an even better option available under center.
OK, slightly better. OK, maybe better.
No one knew how good Matt Cassel was back in 2005, because he’d never been a starting quarterback before. And in 81 starts as a professional, Cassel finished with a 36-45 record. But twice in his career, he won 10 games as a starter, filling in for the injured Tom Brady in 2008 and two years later in his Pro Bowl season with the Kansas City Chiefs.
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Morry Gash/Associated Press
Original Pick: Marcus Spears, DE, LSU
New Pick: Nick Collins, S, Bethune-Cookman
The Dallas Cowboys got this pick in 2004 after flipping their first-rounder that year to the Buffalo Bills. And while Marcus Spears never made a Pro Bowl, he was a capable player who spent nine years with the Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens.
Still, Dallas can do better here by bolstering the secondary with a rangy free safety who would have looked good playing next to Pro Bowler Roy Williams on the back end of the Dallas defense.
Nick Collins didn’t last as long in the NFL as Spears did; a severe neck injury in 2011 ended his career. But while Collins was out there, he was one of the better free safeties in the league.
In those seven NFL seasons, Collins intercepted 21 passes, including seven in a 2008 season that saw him bring three picks back for a score. The small-school standout went to three straight Pro Bowls from 2008-2010, and was a starter for the Green Bay Packers team that won Super Bowl XLV.
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John Froschauer/Associated Press
Original Pick: Matt Jones, WR, Arkansas
New Pick: Lofa Tatupu, LB, USC
The 2005 Jacksonville Jaguars were a good football team, winning 12 games and making the playoffs. The Jags didn’t win their own division that year (damn you, Peyton Manning), but still, 12 wins is pretty dang good.
Given a fairly solid roster, the best thing the Jags can do with this second bite at the draft-day apple is eschew taking a project player like converted quarterback Matt Jones for a guy who could help the Jags on defense right away.
Before there was a Bobby Wagner in Seattle, there was a Lofa Tatupu. This isn’t to say that the two players are comparable. But Tatupu was a very good “Mike” linebacker in his own right; he led the NFC champion Seahawks in tackles in 2005 and made the Pro Bowl each of his first three years in the NFL.
In fact, had injuries not cut Tatupu’s career short, mentioning him in the same breath as Wagner might not be such a stretch after all.
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Mark Duncan/Associated Press
Original Pick: Mark Clayton, WR, Oklahoma
New Pick: Braylon Edwards, WR, Michigan
The Baltimore Ravens can’t be faulted for taking a wide receiver in the first round of the 2005 draft; the team badly needed passing-game weapons. But while players like Roddy White and Vincent Jackson went later on, Baltimore settled on Mark Clayton, who never topped 1,000 yards in a season over his seven-year career.
White and Jackson are long gone in this re-draft, but the first wideout drafted back in 2005 is still on the board.
Braylon Edwards never lived up to his status as a top-five pick. Well, to be completely honest, he almost never lived up to that status. For one year at least, Edwards was as good as any wideout in the game. In 2007, he caught 80 passes for 1,289 yards and scored a jaw-dropping 16 touchdowns.
That explosion showed the talent was there. Maybe we would have seen it more often were Edwards not relegated to the fifth circle of football hell that is Cleveland.
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D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press
Original Pick: Chris Spencer, C, Ole Miss
New Pick: Richie Incognito, OG, Nebraska
The Seattle Seahawks didn’t know it at the time, but the franchise was about to embark on a special season in 2005. By year’s end, the Seahawks were in Detroit representing the NFC in Super Bowl XL.
That Seahawks team won 13 games and put seven players in the Pro Bowl, including rookie linebacker Lofa Tatupu and three offensive linemen.
As great as that offensive line was, it could have been even better had Seattle not made a deal with the Oakland Raiders to trade down in the first round.
Richie Incognito has earned more infamy for things that have nothing to do with blocking pass-rushers than anything that’s actually part of his job, whether it was all the penalties in St. Louis, the bullying scandal in Miami or a number of incidents off the field.
However, he is a four-time Pro Bowler who can play both guard spots and center who is still starting in the NFL to this day.
Maybe playing in Seattle would have been a better fit for him.
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Matt Ludtke/Associated Press
Original Pick: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Cal
New Pick: Cedric Benson, RB, Texas
Right about now, fans of the Green Bay Packers probably think re-drafts are stupid.
There’s nothing the Packers could do here that will compensate for missing out on Aaron Rodgers. But if you hop in the way-back machine and head back to 2005, it’s not hard to discern what Green Bay’s Plan B might be.
The Packers won 10 games in 2004, thanks in large part to a big year from bruising tailback Ahman Green. But Green played in just five games the following year, the Packers run game fell apart, and Green Bay wound up going 4-12.
Cedric Benson never lived up to his draft slot in Chicago, but the former Texas standout revived his career in Cincinnati. From 2009-2011, he topped 1,000 yards for the Bengals in three straight seasons.
He was also something of a clone of Green: a between-the-tackles bruiser who would have meshed well with what those Packers teams did offensively.
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Jack Dempsey/Associated Press
Original Pick: Jason Campbell, QB, Auburn
New Pick: Chris Myers, OG, Miami (Fla.)
Frankly, there was some temptation here to just stick with Jason Campbell. Campbell was never the player the Redskins hoped in Washington, but it’s fair to wonder what might have been had Campbell had a better supporting cast around him.
However, in this re-draft, a Redskins team that wound up winning 10 games and making the postseason in 2005 went with a better overall player, one that can help the team right away, and the Denver Broncos hung on to their first-rounder instead of trading it to Washington.
Chris Myers was a sixth-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 2005, and he spent three unspectacular seasons in Denver before being traded to the Houston Texans. He blossomed there, making it to two Pro Bowls, becoming an excellent interior lineman and paving the way for some big seasons from Arian Foster.
Myers may not have been great. But he was consistent, he was durable (he didn’t miss a start from 2007 to 2014), and he was versatile.
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Ben Margot/Associated Press
Original Pick: Fabian Washington, CB, Nebraska
New Pick: Carlos Rogers, CB, Auburn
The Raiders would have gone without a first-rounder in 2005 after trading for Randy Moss. But Oakland flipped tight end Doug Jolley to the Jets as part of a package that got the team the No. 26 pick. Then the Raiders traded up three spots with Seattle.
Oakland would use that 23rd overall pick on cornerback Fabian Washington, who had an uneventful six-year run with the Raiders and Ravens. In this re-draft, Oakland stays at No. 26…and drafts a corner who could actually play.
Carlos Rogers actually did play the last season of his professional career with the Raiders in 2014. But it’s the 2008 version of Rogers that keeps him in the first round after he was originally drafted ninth overall. That season, he tallied 56 tackles, hauled in two interceptions and had a league-high 24 passes defended.
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Matt Rourke/Associated Press
Original Pick: Roddy White, WR, UAB
New Pick: Darren Sproles, RB, Kansas State
The Atlanta Falcons need a hindsight-hug.
The Falcons entered the 2005 draft in desperate need of wide receiver help. They got it in Roddy White, who played his entire 11-year career in Atlanta.
Not only is that not an option here, but every wide receiver worth taking is off the board. When you’re disappointed about missing out on Braylon Edwards, that’s a bad sign.
So with this pick, the Falcons are going outside the box. Way outside the box. All the way to unveiling an offense unlike anything seen before.
The scatback attack.
The 2005 Falcons already had an excellent lead back in Warrick Dunn and an athletic phenomenon under center in Michael Vick. It took NFL teams some time to learn how to properly use all 5’6″ of Darren Sproles, but over 15 years with three teams, Sproles made three Pro Bowls and established himself as an excellent receiver out of the backfield and an outstanding kick returner.
Just run pro set with Dunn and Sproles and wheel-route opponents to death.
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Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
Original Pick: Luis Castillo, DE, Northwestern
New Pick: Oshiomogho Atogwe, S, Stanford
The 2005 NFL draft class was many things, but deep was not one of them. By this point, most of the Pro Bowl talent is already off the board, and the Chargers of this era weren’t necessarily hurting for help at positions where there is a little left.
That doesn’t mean the cupboard is completely bare, though.
O.J. Atogwe didn’t have an especially long career—just seven seasons with the St. Louis Rams and Washington Redskins. He also never made a Pro Bowl.
But a pretty good argument can be made that the versatile safety should have. In 2007, Atogwe racked up 75 total tackles and intercepted eight passes. The following season, he set career highs in both total tackles and solo stops while picking off five more errant throws.
Atogwe didn’t have the longevity or accolades of some of the other players listed in this re-draft. But in his prime, “Alphabet” could play.
You have to be able to to merit multiple nicknames.
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Seth Wenig/Associated Press
Original Pick: Marlin Jackson, CB, Michigan
New Pick: Corey Webster, CB, LSU
By 2005, the Indianapolis Colts were rolling. The team won 12 games in 2004 and went on to go 14-2 in 2005. They experienced postseason heartbreak both years, but it wouldn’t be long before Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy got the championship they coveted.
These Colts were stacked on both sides of the ball; the roster didn’t have many holes. But some things never change in the NFL—the offensive line and secondary are areas where teams look to get better just about every year.
The class of 2005 wasn’t especially deep at cornerback. By this point, the Pro Bowl well has already dried up. But while Corey Webster never made it to Honolulu or Miami, he spent nine years as a solid player for the New York Giants, holding significant roles on the teams that won Super Bowls in 2007 and 2011.
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Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
Original Pick: Heath Miller, TE, Virginia
New Pick: Heath Miller, TE, Virginia
It seems that every time I do one of these, the Pittsburgh Steelers wind up with the same pick in the do-over that they got in the real deal.
It’s a testament to Pittsburgh’s ability to both identify talent and select players who fit in well in the Steel City.
Fresh off winning the John Mackey Award as the best tight end in college football, Miller didn’t have to wait long to experience success in the NFL. His rookie season ended with a win over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. Three years later, Miller and the Steelers once again captured the Lombardi Trophy.
Miller never posted gaudy numbers in Pittsburgh, but he was a quality blocker and a trusted target in the passing game for Ben Roethlisberger. He would go on to play 11 seasons with the team, making it to a pair of Pro Bowls and playing in a third Super Bowl against the Green Bay Packers.
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Charles Krupa/Associated Press
Original Pick: Mike Patterson, DT, USC
New Pick: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Harvard
The 2005 season was a disaster for the Philadelphia Eagles. After going 6-0 against the NFC East on the way to a berth in Super Bowl XXXIX, the Eagles went oh-fer in the division in a 2005 campaign known more for drama off the field than the play on it.
The ’05 Eagles were also decimated by injuries that exposed a lack of depth at a number of critical positions, including quarterback. After Donovan McNabb was lost nine games into the season, the Eagles were forced to hand the reins on offense to Mike McMahon, who played more like Vince McMahon than Jim McMahon.
But what if Philly had a young backup under center who could hold down the fort with McNabb out? What if the Eagles had a Nick Foles before they had Nick Foles?
What if the Eagles had Ryan Fitzpatrick?
It’s a fascinating “what if,” as is the question of what Fitzpatrick’s career could have been had he had stability in the early going instead of spending a decade bouncing from bottom-feeder to bottom-feeder.
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Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press
Original Pick: Logan Mankins, OG, Fresno State
New Pick: Evan Mathis, OG, Alabama
What do you get the team that has everything?
The New England Patriots entered the 2005 draft coming off back-to-back Super Bowl wins—the last time a franchise accomplished that feat. And despite picking last in Round 1, the Pats wound up with one of the most accomplished players in the class in guard Logan Mankins.
Given that, it seems fitting that another player fall to them who (with the gift of hindsight) shouldn’t.
Evan Mathis didn’t quite have the professional career that Mankins did. But he was no slouch; he played 12 seasons in the NFL for a half-dozen teams, winning a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos in 2015 and making the Pro Bowl in 2013 and 2014.
He was something of a late bloomer—and a well-traveled one at that.
But Evan Mathis was one heck of an offensive lineman, and deserving of the final first-round pick in this re-draft.