Merriman, Ware replace Smith, Ronnie Brown atop '05 re-draft
Derek Anderson jumps ahead of first-rounders Alex Smith, Aaron Rodgers and Jason Campbell.
Scouts Inc.'s philosophy is that it takes three years to judge a player. Based upon that thinking, we went back to look at how the 2005 draft should have gone. Redoing the 2005 draft was no easy task, mainly because it was not a very good draft class. In fact, three years later, some players are just now starting to develop.
We have the Chargers taking the inconsistent wide receiver Vincent Jackson a round earlier than they took him back in 2005. Atlanta WR Roddy White is just now showing signs of being a No. 1, and he moves up in this draft. Derek Anderson, who was a sixth-round pick in Baltimore, is currently the starter in Cleveland and thus is taken ahead of Alex Smith, Aaron Rodgers and Jason Campbell in this draft.
This poor draft class may also mean that the 2009 free agency class is going to leave a lot to be desired. Regardless, here is the new-look 2005 first round. (Blame the players --not us-- for the lackluster quality overall.)
1. San Francisco 49ers -- LB Shawne Merriman, Maryland'05 team needs: QB, FS, WR, DE, CB, OLB, RB, C
Actual selection: QB Alex Smith, Utah
It's still too early to tell if Smith is a bust. But if he can't produce for new offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who knows how to develop quarterbacks, the bust label fits. Even if Smith improves, he will never be as good as Merriman, who would be a great fit in the 49ers' 3-4 scheme and has future Hall of Famer written all over him.
2. Miami Dolphins -- LB DeMarcus Ware, Troy'05 team needs: RB, QB, OLB, WR, DE, DT, OT, S
Actual selection: RB Ronnie Brown, Auburn
It's fitting for the Dolphins to draft Ware. Bill Parcells obviously likes Ware, having drafted him in Dallas in 2005. The Cowboys have played a hybrid 3-4 defense, and Ware was the second-best player in this draft behind Merriman. Brown has been solid, but he hasn't been able to carry a dismal offense over the past few years.
3. Cleveland Browns -- OT Jammal Brown, Oklahoma'05 team needs: QB, OT, NT, ILB, S, CB, DE, WR
Actual selection: WR Braylon Edwards, Michigan
It would be hard to argue against selecting Edwards, who was one of the top players in this class. However, we are looking back to 2005 and at that time the Browns had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL without current LT Joe Thomas. Based on the state of the offensive line back then, the Browns should not have passed on Brown, who is now an excellent starting left tackle.
4. Chicago Bears -- WR Braylon Edwards, Michigan'05 Team needs: RB, TE, WR, G, OLB, QB, DT, CB
Actual selection: RB Cedric Benson, Texas
Benson has underachieved to this point. Had the Bears drafted Edwards, they would have kept RB Thomas Jones, who should still be the Bears' starter since Benson never actually beat him out. Jones was traded for one reason: to justify the drafting of Benson, who did nothing to quiet the skeptics in 2007, his first season as the starter.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- RB Frank Gore, Miami'05 team needs: RB, WR, OLB, SS, G, DT, QB, OT, DE, CB
Actual selection: RB Carnell Williams, Auburn
Ironically, the knock against Gore -- that he was injury-prone -- has actually been the case for Williams. In retrospect, Gore, who has missed only three games in three years compared to Williams' 16, should have been the selection.
6. Tennessee Titans -- RB Ronnie Brown, Auburn'05 team needs: CB, ROT, WR, RB, K, C, ILB, QB, TE
Actual selection: CB Adam Jones, West Virginia
The Titans would have rather taken anyone instead of Jones, whose off-the-field issues resulted in his being suspended for the entire 2007 season. The Titans' running game has been inconsistent without a featured back. Brown fits here, considering what he did running behind a bad Dolphins offensive line. We think he could have put up big-time numbers in Tennessee.
7. Minnesota Vikings -- OG Logan Mankins, Fresno State'05 team needs: RG, WR, DE, K, DT, C, QB
Actual selection: WR Troy Williamson, South Carolina
Even though offensive guard is not an issue right now, in 2005 the Vikings' No. 1 need was a right guard; Mankins has been the most productive guard from the 2005 class. With an interior O-line of Steve Hutchinson at left guard, Matt Birk at center and Mankins at right guard, the Vikings would boast the NFL's best inside trio.
8. Arizona Cardinals -- OT Michael Roos, Eastern Washington'05 team needs: RB, CB, TE, DT, G, OT, OLB, QB
Actual selection: CB Antrel Rolle, Miami
Roos was selected in the second round by the Titans and has been one of the best offensive tackles from this class. Since 2005, the Cardinals have been trying to resolve their offensive line issues, and Roos could have helped them tremendously. The Cardinals line is better today than it was then, but Roos would have turned the position from a question mark into an exclamation point.
9. Washington Redskins -- MLB Lofa Tatupu, USC'05 team needs: ILB, DE, CB, DT, SS, G, TE
Actual selection: CB Carlos Rogers, Auburn
The No. 1 need for the Redskins in 2005 was inside linebacker. Tatupu went in the second round to Seattle and is now one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL. While Rogers can't stay healthy, Tatupu would have been the leader Washington has been lacking on defense.
10. Detroit Lions -- QB Derek Anderson, Oregon State'05 team needs: ROT, DE, S, ILB, DT, QB, TE, WR
Actual selection: WR Mike Williams, USC
Anderson is the best quarterback in this class and was taken in the sixth round by Baltimore. Anderson moved on to Cleveland and will enter the season as the Browns' No. 1. He still has a lot to prove, but he is further along than first-rounders Smith, Rodgers and Campbell.
11. Dallas Cowboys -- DE Justin Tuck, Notre Dame'05 team needs: OT, DE, OLB, FS, CB, WR, G, RB, QB
Actual selection: LB DeMarcus Ware, Troy
Even with Ware off the re-draft board, we know Parcells still would have gone with a defensive pick. Tuck would play defensive end in the Cowboys' 3-4 scheme and rush the passer as a defensive tackle on passing downs.
12. San Diego Chargers -- LB Michael Boley, Southern Miss.'05 team needs: OLB, WR, FS, OT, NT, DE, ILB, G
Actual selection: LB Shawne Merriman, Maryland
With Merriman and Ware off the board, San Diego would still take an outside linebacker. We think the Chargers would select Boley at No. 12, even though in reality he didn't get drafted until well into the fifth round. Boley is not a pure 3-4 outside linebacker, but he is a great athlete with speed and would have been a great pick for the Chargers.
13. New Orleans Saints -- DT Luis Castillo, Northwestern'05 team needs: OLB, OT, CB, DT, S, QB, RB
Actual selection: OT Jammal Brown, Oklahoma
The Chargers selected Castillo with the No. 28 pick, but we would move him up the re-draft board. With Brown gone, the Saints would have had to work the other side of the line. Castillo's presence surely would have beefed up a defensive line that struggles to pressure the quarterback and stop the run.
14. Carolina Panthers -- WR Roddy White, UAB'05 team needs: ROT, WR, RB, DT, TE, FS, OLB, RG, CB
Actual selection: S Thomas Davis, Georgia
White struggled early in his career, but last year he finally showed signs of living up to his first-round status. Davis has been good but not great, and White would have given them that player they needed to take some pressure off WR Steve Smith.
15. Kansas City Chiefs -- DE Trent Cole, Cincinnati'05 team needs: CB, DE, OLB, WR, DT, S, QB
Actual selection: LB Derrick Johnson, Texas
In 2005 the Chiefs didn't have DE Tamba Hali, so they were desperate for someone to line up opposite DE Jared Allen. Thus, even though Johnson has been a solid player, Cole would have been a slightly better pick.
16. Houston Texans -- OG Jason Brown, North Carolina'05 team needs: OT, NT, OLB, SS, WR, ILB, DE, TE, CB
Actual selection: DT Travis Johnson, Florida State
Johnson has been good, but he hasn't had the huge impact the team hoped he would. Meanwhile, Brown would have been a solid addition for an offensive line that continues to be in flux year after year.
17. Cincinnati Bengals -- S Kerry Rhodes, Louisville'05 team needs: DT, C, S, MLB, CB, TE, WR, OT
Actual selection: DE David Pollack, Georgia
The Bengals needed a playmaker on defense, and Rhodes certainly fits the bill. He would have stabilized a secondary that has struggled in recent years.
18. Minnesota Vikings -- TE Heath Miller, Virginia'05 team needs: RG, WR, DE, K, DT, C, QB
Actual selection: DE Erasmus James, Wisconsin
Adding a reliable target like Miller would have done wonders for the Vikings' hapless passing attack. He is also a serviceable blocker who would be helping to pave the way for Adrian Peterson.
19. St. Louis Rams -- CB/FS Marlin Jackson, Michigan'05 team needs: RT, G, S, DE, TE, CB, QB
Actual selection: OT Alex Barron, Florida State
The Rams' need at safety was greater than at cornerback, but Jackson can play both. He would be a solid contributor at either position for the Rams; their secondary would be much better with him in the lineup.
20. Dallas Cowboys -- CB Adam Jones, West Virginia'05 team needs: OT, DE, OLB, FS, CB, WR, G, RB, QB
Actual selection: DE Marcus Spears, LSU
Putting Jones here was just too good to pass up. Who else would want him? The Cowboys are the only team interested in this incredibly talented yet controversial player.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars -- OT Khalif Barnes, Washington'05 team needs: CB, OT, DE, TE, WR, S, DT, QB
Actual selection: WR Matt Jones, Arkansas
The Jaguars actually drafted Barnes in the second round and Jones in the first. Jones is obviously a huge flop, and while Barnes has not been spectacular, he did fill a major need at the difficult position of left tackle.
22. Baltimore Ravens -- OLB Derrick Johnson, Texas'05 team needs: OLB, WR, CB, FS, RT, G, DT, QB
Actual selection: WR Mark Clayton, Oklahoma
The Ravens needed linebacker help from the 2005 draft. Someone with Johnson's range and playmaking ability would have been an intriguing addition to Baltimore's defense.
23. Oakland Raiders -- LB Kirk Morrison, San Diego State'05 team needs: OLB, S, ILB, G, NT, DE, QB
Actual selection: CB Fabian Washington, Nebraska
Here is another case of a team taking a player in Round 1 whom they actually selected in a later round. But where would Oakland's defense be without Morrison? He's a good fit.
24. Green Bay Packers -- S Oshiomogho Atogwe, Stanford'05 team needs: FS, DE, LB, G, SS, QB, DT, CB
Actual selection: QB Aaron Rodgers, California
In 2005 the Packers had a glaring need at safety, and they still aren't set at this position. Atogwe is not a household name, but he got his hands on the ball quite a bit last year and still has a lot of upside.
25. Washington Redskins -- QB Aaron Rodgers, California'05 team needs: ILB, DE, CB, DT, SS, G, TE
Actual selection: QB Jason Campbell, Auburn
This was a tough call between Rodgers and Campbell. While we believe Campbell will eventually be a fine starting quarterback, Rodgers has not yet had the chance to prove himself and was rated higher on most draft boards in 2005.
26. Seattle Seahawks -- RB Marion Barber, Minnesota'05 team needs: ILB, CB, OLB, C, WR, DE, QB, G
Actual selection: C Chris Spencer, Mississippi
The Seahawks don't know it yet, but RB Shaun Alexander is about to fall apart from overuse. There isn't a suitable player on the re-draft board who would have filled the Seahawks' 2005 needs, so we're giving them the best player available. Coach Mike Holmgren will thank us down the road.
27. Atlanta Falcons -- OT Nick Kaczur, Toledo'05 team needs: FS, LT, DT, WR, CB, DE, OLB, TE
Actual selection: WR Roddy White, UAB
The Falcons' offensive line needed help in '05 and remains in major disarray to this day. There wasn't a huge difference maker left this late in Round 1, but Kaczur is a versatile starter who can play right tackle and both guard positions.
28. San Diego Chargers -- WR Vincent Jackson, Northern Colorado'05 team needs: OLB, WR, FS, OT, NT, DE, ILB, G
Actual selection: DT Luis Castillo, Northwestern
In 2005 the Chargers needed a wideout, which is why they spent a second-round selection on this huge receiver from a tiny college football program. The arrow is pointing up on Jackson as he looks to be coming into his own.
29. Indianapolis Colts -- CB Kelvin Hayden, Illinois'05 team needs: ILB, DT, G, CB, OLB, RB, OT
Actual selection: CB Marlin Jackson, Michigan
This is the last situation where we put a player with his true team. Hayden is now a starting corner for the Colts, and, as evidenced by their actual selections of both Hayden and Jackson, Indianapolis obviously had a need at this position back in 2005.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers -- DE Chris Canty, Virginia'05 team needs: CB, RT, TE, FS, ILB, G, DE, RB, WR, OLB
Actual selection: TE Heath Miller, Virginia
In '05 the Steelers' starting defensive end, Kimo Von Oelhoffen, was nearing the end of his rope, so they needed an infusion of young talent at this position. Canty, as he is proving now in Dallas, would have been an excellent fit for Pittsburgh's 3-4 front.
31. Philadelphia Eagles -- RB Brandon Jacobs, Southern Illinois'05 team needs: DE, WR, RB, TE, DT, S, OT, CB, G
Actual selection: DT Mike Patterson, USC
The Eagles were looking for a big, powerful complement to RB Brian Westbrook and would have hit a home run if they pulled the trigger on Jacobs. Imagine that one-two punch behind Philly's massive line.
32. New England Patriots -- LB Barrett Ruud, Nebraska'05 team needs: ILB, G, OT, CB, S, OLB, WR, FB
Actual selection: OG Logan Mankins, Fresno State
Ruud is the best player left on the re-draft board. While coach Bill Belichick does not typically use high draft picks on linebackers, the Pats did have a need at the position in 2005, so we felt this was a good fit. Plus, Ruud fits the mold of a Belichick-type player and is a solid all-around playmaker.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.
Don't be too quick to judge a team's draft
Scouts Inc. tests the theory that it takes three years to fully evaluate a team's draft class by looking back at the '05 draft. The lesson learned is grades handed out on draft day do not always match the grades handed out three years later.
Re-grading the 2005 draft
If the 49ers knew LB Shawne Merriman was going terrorize the NFL, would they have taken him first overall instead of QB Alex Smith? We think so.
Check out the rest of Scouts Inc.'s 2005 re-draft.