Re-Drafting the First Round of the 2010 NFL Draft
They say you cannot truly grade a NFL draft until you have the benefit of hindsight. Three years is a typical bench mark for such an endeavor, allowing for a draft class to mature and gain—or lose—playing time.
Instead of grading the 2010 draft class, however, what if we were to hold a whole new draft based on what we know from those players?
Which players would go in the first round? Of course, there is no way to tell which teams might have made trades using that knowledge, so we will have to use the ultimate draft order.
Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
By far, the most notorious omission from this re-imagined draft is Tim Tebow, a fact that is sure to rile up his supporters.
The 48-percent passer is hanging on to a NFL job by a thread right now, so it is difficult to see him landing anywhere in the top few rounds of the 2010 draft in hindsight.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State
It's tough to include running backs made out of glass in the first round of a draft, especially the way the position has gone in recent years.
Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana
He fell just outside the first round in 2010, and he does so again here.
Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
Tyson Alualu, DT, California
These two have simply not panned out as first rounders.
1. St. Louis Rams
Pick: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida
Original Pick: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
The NFL is a quarterback-driven league nowadays, but has Sam Bradford lived up to his billing as the No. 1 overall pick of the 2010 draft?
Bradford will make an appearance in this mock draft later on, but the Rams get far more bang for their buck here with Jason Pierre-Paul.
Although he had a down 2012 season by statistical measure, JPP has turned into one of the league's most dominant defensive ends.
2. Detroit Lions
Pick: Geno Atkins, DT, Georgia
Original Pick: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
It is difficult to believe Geno Atkins fell all the way into the fourth round of the 2010 draft. That the Bengals were able to snag him so late made him one of the bigger steals of the draft.
Atkins has become the league's best defensive tackle over the first three years of his career. The big lineman was rated almost 50 points higher than the next best guy—Gerald McCoy—according to Pro Football Focus last season. McCoy rated at 31.2.
Here, the Lions are able to replace one dominant tackle with another while getting rid of the on- and off-field antics.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pick: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
Original Pick: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
The Buccaneers go from Gerald McCoy to Ndamukong Suh here, not a bad exchange by any means.
While McCoy is rather good, Suh is exceptional when he's not doing things like kicking opposing quarterbacks in sensitive areas. The former Cornhusker has managed 22 sacks from the defensive tackle position through his first three years in the league.
Suh's particular prowess at rushing the quarterback wins the Buccaneers over, despite his antics on and off the field.
4. Washington Redskins
Pick: Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
Original Pick: Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
Washington took Trent Williams in this spot during the 2010 draft, and they stick with the same position here.
Russell Okung has grown into one of the best left tackles in the league, having allowed just one sack last season. The Redskins have a good offensive line thanks, in large part, to Trent Williams. Okung can make that line even better.
5. Kansas City Chiefs
Pick: Navorro Bowman, LB, Penn State
Original Pick: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
It's not that the Chiefs made a bad pick when they selected Eric Berry here, but how could they pass up Navorro Bowman in hindsight?
Bowman has become "1B" to Patrick Willis' "1A" in San Francisco. Originally taken in the third round, the Penn State product is snapped up happily here by Kansas City. Pairing him with Derrick Johnson over the years would have made for a dangerous combination.
6. Seattle Seahawks
Pick: Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
Original Pick: Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Nate Burleson and Deion Branch were the top Seattle receivers in 2009. If they had the benefit of hindsight, Dez Bryant would be a no-brainer at this point.
Of course, they did just fine in the 2010 draft. Russell Okung—the man Seattle originally picked here—has worked out nicely for the Seahawks. But Bryant is too good to pass up here. After all, he has scored the second-most receiving touchdowns in the NFL since 2010, with 27.
The oft-criticized receiver has bucked his critics despite some bumps in the road. Those bumps caused his precipitous fall in the first round when he might have otherwise been a top-10 pick, as he is here.
7. Cleveland Browns
Pick: Joe Haden, CB, Florida
Original Pick: Joe Haden, CB, Florida
The Browns got exactly what they bargained for when they took Joe Haden with the seventh overall pick in the 2010 draft.
Haden has become one of the league's better cornerbacks, though he had a run-in with the PED police early last season. The former Gator has been a stalwart in the Browns secondary since coming into the league.
8. Oakland Raiders
Pick: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
Original Pick: Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
Woe is Oakland.
The poor team just traded away more draft picks for a questionable quarterback, this time sending late-round picks for Matt Flynn. Though that is a far cry from sending multiple first-round picks for an aging Carson Palmer, the Raiders have had their fair share of quarterback issues since Rich Gannon retired.
Many of those issues would be solved in this hypothetical draft with Sam Bradford. Although he has not been lights out in St. Louis, Bradford is far better than what Oakland has had under center since 2009.
9. Buffalo Bills
Pick: Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona
Original Pick: C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
The Bills took a "best player available" approach when they took C.J. Spiller in 2009 despite having Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch the season before.
Spiller is still a good candidate for such a strategy here, but how could Buffalo pass up taking Rob Gronkowski at this point? Not only does the team get the best tight end in the NFL, they take him away from division-rival New England.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars
Pick: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
Original Pick: Tyson Alualu, DT, California
The Jaguars get a major upgrade in this hypothetical draft, going from relative bust Tyson Alualu to Gerald McCoy.
Alualu has been good enough to hang onto his job, but he has yet to show he was a first-round talent, let alone a top-10 pick. McCoy, meanwhile, has become an important piece to the Buccaneer defense and one of the best defensive tackles in the league.
11. San Francisco 49ers
Pick: Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
Original Pick: Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
The San Francisco 49ers are in excellent shape today, and part of the reason for that is how well they have drafted over the years.
Anthony Davis was one such pick, even if he is not a left tackle. Why mess with success?
12. San Diego Chargers
Pick: C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
Original Pick: Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State
The Chargers moved all the way up from the 28th pick to take Ryan Mathews, whose bones may or may not be made of porcelain.
Mathews has shown flashes of his talent in the NFL, but he has been a bust for San Diego thus far. C.J. Spiller, however, has blossomed into a fantastic weapon in Buffalo. This is a mulligan Chargers fans would likely love to have.
13. Philadelphia Eagles
Pick: Jimmy Graham, TE, Miami
Original Pick: Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan
Going with the "best player available" approach here, the Eagles settle for the second-best tight end in the league.
Jimmy Graham was good enough to get drafted in the third round, despite having just one inconsistent year at tight end after a four-year basketball career for the Miami Hurricanes. The gamble has paid off nicely for the Saints.
Though Brandon Graham finally began to realize his potential last year, Graham's effect on the offense is too good to pass up in this draft.
14. Seattle Seahawks
Pick: Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
Original Pick: Earl Thomas, S, Texas
The Seahawks might have lost out on Russell Okung, but Trent Williams becomes a nice consolation here.
After a difficult rookie season, Williams has become a solid left tackle for the Redskins. Earl Thomas has been great at safety for the Seahawks, but locking down the left tackle position is more important.
15. New York Giants
Pick: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
Original Pick: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida
Jason Pierre-Paul has turned out to be a fantastic pick for the Giants, but he is long gone here. Instead, the Giants swipe Derrick Morgan out from under the Titans.
Morgan is not a bad consolation prize in lieu of JPP. He has become one of the league's better pass-rushers, even catching Pierre-Paul statistically last season.
16. Tennessee Titans
Pick: Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan
Original Pick: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
No Morgan? No problem.
Brandon Graham is ripe for the picking after falling a few spots. Graham was stuck behind Trent Cole and Jason Babin with the Eagles, but he finally blossomed when he got on the field more during 2012.
Graham only played in 205 defensive snaps, but he was the most efficient pass-rusher in the NFL during that limited playing time. His future looks bright.
17. San Francisco 49ers
Pick: Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho
Original Pick: Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho
Once again, the 49ers simply do not mess with success in this spot, taking one of the league's best offensive guards all over again.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers
Pick: Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida
Original Pick: Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida
This is a bit of a tight spot for the Steelers.
Maurkice Pouncey has been good, but even his younger brother has surpassed him as an NFL center. However, the Steelers desperately needed to address the position in 2010, and the other players available in this draft are either luxury picks or poor fits.
Hence, the Steelers repeat history and take a solid center, even if it is overdrafting a bit.
19. Atlanta Falcons
Pick: Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri
Original Pick: Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri
We have begun a bit of a run here with regard to taking the same player.
Sean Weatherspoon has been good for the Falcons since they took him here in 2010. There is little reason to select someone else at this point.
20. Houston Texans
Pick: Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech
Original Pick: Kareem Jackson, DB, Missouri
Denver's first round left many scratching their heads after the 2010 draft. Demaryius Thomas, their first pick, was a raw receiver that was a bit of a surprise at the 22nd pick. Of course, they followed that up with Tim Tebow at 25.
In hindsight, Thomas was a good pick. He has emerged as a big-time receiver for the Broncos, even if his route tree is still limited.
The Texans, meanwhile, have yet to pair elite receiver Andre Johnson with a good receiver. Thomas does just that here, which makes for a dangerous duo at the position.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Pick: Earl Thomas, S, Texas
Pick: Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
The Bengals have done just fine at safety in recent years, and Jermaine Gresham—the original pick—has performed admirably in that Bengals offense since 2010.
But Earl Thomas is too good to pass up at this juncture of this draft.
22. Denver Broncos
Pick: T.J. Ward, S, Oregon
Original Pick: Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech
Denver takes the best fit for them here in T.J. Ward, who has been a good safety since coming into the league. Alas, he doesn't play the same position as Rahim Moore, who nearly singlehandedly cost the Broncos a trip to the AFC Championship game.
23. Green Bay Packers
Pick: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
Original Pick: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
Eric Berry has the talent to become one of the league's best safeties. Unfortunately, he has been plagued by injuries and misuse during his tenure with the Chiefs.
Berry's rookie season was a good one, but he tore his knee up early the following year. He followed that up with a mediocre 2012, par for the course if you look at the Chiefs as a whole.
The Packers have had issues in their secondary in recent years, particularly at safety, which they rectify here at the end of a safety run.
24. Dallas Cowboys
Pick: Sean Lee, LB, Penn State
Original Pick: Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
There is a reason why Penn State is known as "Linebacker U." How good was that unit when Sean Lee roamed the middle alongside Navorro Bowman?
Lee had a great sophomore season and was on his way to a good 2012 before an injury shelved him after six games. The Cowboys took Lee in the second round of the 2010 draft, but they will have to pay the first-round premium to ensure they keep him here.
25. Denver Broncos
Pick: Daryl Washington, LB, TCU
Original Pick: Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
The award for Biggest Mulligan in this draft goes to Denver, avoiding Tim Tebow—who did wind up going 8-6 as a starter for the Broncos—and all those related headaches by taking someone else here. Anyone else.
Really, Daryl Washington is an excellent fit for the Broncos defense. He has been among the league leaders in tackles for the Cardinals over the past couple of seasons, making the Pro Bowl as an alternate—and underrated player—last year.
Washington is certainly a big upgrade to Andra Davis or Mario Haggan.
26. Arizona Cardinals
Pick: Donald Butler, LB, Washington
Original Pick: Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
Another team whose player got swiped, the Cardinals take the next best man at the position in Donald Butler.
The former Husky has not quite lived up to his potential yet with the Chargers, but neither have the Chargers overall in recent years. Part of that has had to do with injuries, which have limited Butler to 28 games in his three-year career.
When healthy, however, Butler has shown the potential to be a great inside linebacker.
27. New England Patriots
Pick: Kam Chancellor, S, Virginia Tech
Original Pick: Devin McCourty, DB, Rutgers
The Seahawks have themselves a nice pair of safeties in Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. They get neither in this draft, but Dez Bryant and Trent Williams are well worth it.
The Patriots, meanwhile, can still use an upgrade at the safety position. Devin McCourty was originally taken as a cornerback, and he has been better as a safety. But Kam Chancellor represents a much better pick at the position in hindsight.
28. Miami Dolphins
Pick: Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida
Original Pick: Jared Odrick, DT/DE, Penn State
Miami did well to trade down from the 12th spot. Jared Odrick, however, has hardly been worth it.
Odrick has been a solid rotational player for the Dolphins, but he has not lived up to first-round expectations. He may not even be a proper fit for their defense anymore.
Carlos Dunlap, however, has been quite good for the Bengals.
The Florida product could be quite dangerous opposite Cameron Wake, at least if one of them switched to the right side.
29. New York Jets
Pick: Greg Hardy, DE/OLB, Mississippi
Original Pick: Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
The Jets have been trying to generate a consistent pass rush for years. Greg Hardy qualifies.
Kyle Wilson, meanwhile, was torched early and often in the NFL. He has improved since his time as a rookie but is hardly worth a first-round pick.
Hardy has blossomed since his time as a rookie, amassing 11.5 sacks in his third season opposite Charles Johnson in Carolina. He might have done so as a defensive end, but he wanted to play outside linebacker coming out of college.
30. Detroit Lions
Pick: Sam Shields, CB, Miami
Original Pick: Jahvid Best, RB, California
Jahvid Best was not without a medical red flag heading into the league. The dynamic running back suffered a severe concussion while in college, which is the biggest reason he fell so far in the first round.
Unfortunately for him and the Lions, his concussion issues persisted into his pro career.
Sam Shields, meanwhile, fell all the way out of the draft after switching positions in college. The former receiver found his stride as a cornerback, but he found it too late to be drafted. This has been Green Bay's gain, and it shall be so for the Lions here.
31. Indianapolis Colts
Pick: Reshad Jones, S, Georgia
Original Pick: Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU
It took him a couple of seasons, but Reshad Jones has blossomed into a good safety since being drafted by the Dolphins in 2010. He has the potential to be great.
The Colts have needed help at the position for years, making this an easy choice.
32. New Orleans Saints
Pick: Alterraun Verner, CB, UCLA
Original Pick: Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State
The Saints have had some issues in their secondary, and Patrick Robinson has not been a solution.
Alterraun Verner, however, took Cortland Finnegan's place with aplomb in Tennessee. The UCLA product took his place across Jason McCourty after Finnegan's flight to St. Louis with little dropoff in quality of play.
New Orleans makes him a part of their secondary in lieu of Robinson here.