Re-Drafting the Loaded 2000 NFL Draft with Brady and Urlacher

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMay 19, 2020

Re-Drafting the Loaded 2000 NFL Draft with Brady and Urlacher

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    CARLOS OSORIO/Associated Press

    This offseason, Bleacher Report is imagining how every NFL draft this century would go down if teams could jump into Dr. Emmett L. Brown's retrofitted DMC DeLorean and go back in time.

    What if they could all set the flux capacitor for April 15, 2000?

    In our opinion, you'd end up with a sixth-round quarterback in the top spot (duh!), along with three other sixth-rounders and two undrafted players in Round 1.

    Here are the specifics in a re-draft that includes only two quarterbacks along with 16 front-seven defenders, five offensive linemen, three running backs, three wide receivers and two defensive backs.

1. Cleveland Browns: QB Tom Brady, Michigan

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    Focus On Sport/Getty Images

    What actually happened: Drafted edge Courtney Brown

    Where he was actually picked: Sixth round by the Patriots

    The Cleveland Browns could have selected literally anybody who has entered the NFL this century in this spot, but Tom Brady would still be the better choice. That's because New England's 199th overall selection has gone on to become the most decorated player in league history.

    Brady is the league's only six-time Super Bowl champion, a three-time MVP, and he's been to 14 Pro Bowls. Meanwhile, the Browns have used 29 different starting quarterbacks since this draft (the Patriots have used five).

    It's not as though they could have known Brady would turn out the way he did. Nobody did. Otherwise, he would have been a first-round selection. Still, the Browns didn't get much out of Courtney Brown, who recorded 19 sacks in 61 games with Cleveland and Denver and was out of the NFL by 2006.

2. Washington Redskins: LB Brian Urlacher, New Mexico

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    Marc Piscotty/Getty Images

    What actually happened: Drafted LB LaVar Arrington

    Where he was actually picked: Ninth overall by the Bears

    If you asked the Washington Redskins in 2003 how they felt about their decision to pick LaVar Arrington over fellow linebackers Brian Urlacher and Julian Peterson, they'd probably tell you they were fine with it. 

    At that point, Urlacher had already become a superstar, but Arrington made three consecutive Pro Bowls between 2001 and 2003 and forced a league-high six fumbles in '03. 

    The problem is the Penn State product played in just 23 games for the rest of his career. His final two seasons in Washington were tumultuous and injury-plagued, and he never played again after suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon with the Giants in 2006. 

    Urlacher kept dominating and is now one of just five players drafted since 2000 who are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

3. Washington Redskins: Edge John Abraham, South Carolina

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    What actually happened: Drafted OT Chris Samuels

    Where he was actually picked: 13th overall by the Jets 

    Just like Arrington, Samuels wasn't a bad pick in this spot for a Washington team that traded picks 12 and 24 for the No. 3 selection earlier in the 2000 offseason. 

    Over the next nine seasons, the Alabama product started all but eight games at left tackle for Washington, earning six Pro Bowl nods along the way. For that, he's now a member of the organization's Ring of Fame. 

    But with the Jets, Falcons and Cardinals, John Abraham was even better over the course of a much longer career. He recorded 13 sacks and forced six fumbles in an All-Pro sophomore campaign, and he went on to post more than nine sacks in nine more seasons. He was also a first-team All-Pro in Atlanta in 2010 and a Pro Bowler as a 35-year-old in Arizona in 2013. 

    Imagine Urlacher and Abraham together for a decade-plus in D.C.

4. Cincinnati Bengals: LB Julian Peterson, Michigan State

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    PAUL SAKUMA/Associated Press

    What actually happened: Drafted WR Peter Warrick 

    Where he was actually picked: 16th overall by the 49ers

    Warrick was the first offensive bust to come off the board in 2000, as he scored 18 total touchdowns in six NFL campaigns and never hit the 1,000-yard mark.

    And so the Cincinnati Bengals probably wish they had instead joined a run on front-seven defenders with Julian Peterson, who didn't quite make an Urlacher- or Abraham-level impact but still made five Pro Bowls over the course of an 11-year career that included 147 starts and more than 800 tackles, more than 50 sacks and more than 20 forced fumbles. 

    In 2002 and 2003, he was one of a handful of the game's best defensive players, alongside studs like Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Simeon Rice and Michael Strahan. 

    Of course, the Bengals also would have been thrilled with Samuels or Arrington in this spot. Pretty much anyone but Warrick. 

5. Baltimore Ravens: RB Jamal Lewis, Tennessee

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    ROBERTO BOREA/Associated Press

    What actually happened: Drafted RB Jamal Lewis

    Where he was actually picked: Fifth overall by the Ravens

    Do the Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl in 2000 without rookie sensation Jamal Lewis at running back? Maybe, maybe not, but Baltimore would have no reason to overthink this after the Tennessee product rushed for 1,364 yards in the 2000 regular season and then went over 100 yards twice in the playoffs. 

    Lewis went over 1,300 yards again in 2002 before exploding for 2,066 yards and 14 touchdowns in a historic 2003 campaign that earned him Offensive Player of the Year honors. He hit the 1,000-yard mark four more times beyond that in Baltimore and Cleveland, which was enough to land a spot on the NFL's 2000s All-Decade second team. 

    With Jonathan Ogden already on board and the defense already jacked, the status quo is a no-brainer here for Baltimore. 

6. Philadelphia Eagles: LB LaVar Arrington, Penn State

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    What actually happened: Drafted DT Corey Simon

    Where he was actually picked: Second overall by the Redskins

    Arrington didn't have staying power, but between 2001 and 2003 he was one of the best defensive players in the sport. He made the Pro Bowl in all three seasons, picked off three passes in '01, forced six fumbles in '03 and recorded 90-plus tackles in all three campaigns. 

    Simon's and Arrington's primes coincided, with the Philadelphia Eagles making the NFC Championship but falling short of Super Bowl glory in four consecutive seasons between '01 and 2004. And while the former was a quality starter who even made a Pro Bowl during that time frame, Arrington made a much larger impact in Washington. 

    It's fair to wonder if his presence might have put the Eagles over the top in at least one of those three consecutive title game losses. 

7. Arizona Cardinals: RB Shaun Alexander, Alabama

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    What actually happened: Drafted RB Thomas Jones

    Where he was actually picked: 19th overall by the Seahawks

    How sweet would it be for the Arizona Cardinals to go back in time and steal Shaun Alexander from the division rival Seattle Seahawks? 

    OK, the teams weren't even in the same conference at the time, but Alexander did the lion's share of his damage after realignment brought the two together in the new-look NFC West in 2002. Over the course of the next four years, he burned the Cards with 130-plus yards and multiple touchdowns on four different occasions. 

    Jones had a decent career (albeit mainly outside of Arizona), but Alexander scored 28 touchdowns and helped the Seahawks reach the Super Bowl in an MVP 2005 campaign and went over 1,000 yards in four other seasons. Along with Lewis, he's on the NFL's 2000s All-Decade second team. 

    No way the time-traveling Cards pass that up. 

8. Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Chris Samuels, Alabama

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    What actually happened: Drafted WR Plaxico Burress

    Where he was actually picked: Third overall by the Redskins

    While Burress had a strong career both in and out of Pittsburgh, he was never consistently dominant enough to be a top-tier receiver, and he wasn't on either of Pittsburgh's 21st-century Super Bowl teams. 

    Instead, in the event of a do-over, the Steelers would be better off upgrading at the offensive tackle position, which was never overwhelmingly strong during that era. 

    In real life, they selected steady long-term contributor Marvel Smith in the second round of this draft. But here, they'll take Samuels. The Alabama product would have teamed up nicely with veteran Wayne Gandy for a couple of seasons before transitioning to the left side.

    In Washington, he was a six-time Pro Bowler who remained effective into his 30s.

9. Chicago Bears: LB Keith Bulluck, Syracuse

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    MICHAEL OKONIEWSKI/Associated Press

    What actually happened: Drafted LB Brian Urlacher 

    Where he was actually picked: 30th overall by the Titans

    Apologies to the Chicago Bears. They and the Patriots got totally screwed in this re-draft. Not only does Chicago lose Urlacher, but it misses out on Peterson and Arrington. 

    That leaves linebacker Keith Bulluck, who had an underrated career with the Titans (and the Giants for a year) but was never on the level with the three players reselected above at that position. 

    Regardless, the Syracuse product recorded more than 1,000 tackles while starting 130 games over a 10-year span in Tennessee, where he was a vital member of a perennial contender. He was a first-team All-Pro with five forced fumbles in 2003, and he led the league with 152 tackles the following season. Between '03 and '06, he was one of just four players with more than 500 tackles.

    There have been worse consolation prizes. 

10. Baltimore Ravens: WR Plaxico Burress, Michigan State

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    Mel Evans/Associated Press

    What actually happened: Drafted WR Travis Taylor

    Where he was actually picked: Eighth overall by the Steelers

    Taylor was never worthy of a top-10 selection for the Ravens, who got 15 touchdowns and zero 1,000-yard campaigns out of the Florida product in five seasons.

    So while Burress didn't quite have enough success to make the cut as the Steelers' pick at eight, the four-time 1,000-yard receiver lands in Baltimore alongside Lewis. 

    Trent Dilfer (and later Elvis Grbac, Jeff Blake, Kyle Boller and Steve McNair) could have benefitted from a sometimes-dominant No. 1 target like Burress, who was a difference-maker on the Giants' 2007 Super Bowl team and scored 51 touchdowns over a seven-season span between 2001 and '07 (only five receivers topped that mark). 

11. New York Giants: OL Shaun O'Hara, Rutgers

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    What actually happened: Drafted RB Ron Dayne 

    Where he was actually pickedHe wasn't

    And yet another player from that 2007 Giants Super Bowl team goes off the board, but this one wasn't even drafted in real life.

    Selecting Dayne was obviously a mistake—the Heisman Trophy winner never even had an 800-yard season in the NFL—while interior offensive lineman Shaun O'Hara spent nine seasons as a stellar starter in Cleveland and with the G-Men. 

    The three-time Pro Bowler was a late bloomer who earned most of his accolades after turning 30. He was a key member of that '07 Super Bowl winner and was a second-team All-Pro in 2008. 

    He beats out Shaun Ellis and Adalius Thomas, partly because the fit is too perfect but also because the Giants' defensive front was in great shape at the time. 

12. New York Jets: DL Shaun Ellis, Tennessee

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    What actually happened: Drafted DL Shaun Ellis

    Where he was actually picked: 12th overall by the Jets

    The New York Jets entered this draft with the 12th and 13th picks. And while they obviously wish they had selected Brady, they fared extremely well with Abraham and their original 12th selection, Shaun Ellis. 

    Ellis was never a superstar, but the defensive lineman out of Tennessee was a key member of that defense for 11 seasons, missing just six games in that span. He earned two Pro Bowl nods, recorded double-digit sacks twice and put up more than 500 tackles and more than 70 sacks over the course of a strong 12-year career (he finished in New England). 

    That staying power is critical, as Ellis was at his best during New York's two runs to the AFC Championship in 2009 and 2010 before playing a relatively key role on a New England team that went to the Super Bowl in 2011. 

13. New York Jets: LB Adalius Thomas, Southern Mississippi

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    What actually happened: Drafted edge John Abraham

    Where he was actually picked: Sixth round by the Ravens

    With Abraham long gone, the Jets use their other reselection on the next-best defensive player on the board in Adalius Thomas. The linebacker was passed on 185 times in this draft before making a limited impact in his first couple of seasons with the Ravens, but he then became one of the top defensive playmakers in the game. 

    Between 2003 and 2006, Thomas made two Pro Bowls, was a first-team All-Pro once, recorded 32 sacks, nine forced fumbles, four interceptions and scored three touchdowns. He then was an effective starter on the 16-0 2007 Patriots. 

    He wasn't a big difference-maker outside of that five-year window, but the high-profile Southern Mississippi product was so good during that run that he'd merit a top-15 pick in the case of a do-over. 

14. Green Bay Packers: OT Chad Clifton, Tennessee

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    What actually happened: Drafted TE Bubba Franks

    Where he was actually picked: Second round by the Packers

    Because original Green Bay Packers draft picks Bubba Franks, Chad Clifton and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila all panned out pretty well, the Packers have to pick between three players who went on to earn Pro Bowl nods in Green Bay. 

    They have to roll with Clifton, who was essentially the team's starting left tackle for an entire decade and was a Pro Bowler and a 16-game starter when it won the Super Bowl in 2010. 

    Franks actually made more Pro Bowls (three to two) in a shorter span (eight seasons to 12), but his numbers weren't overly impressive. He scored 20 touchdowns in a three-year span between 2001 and 2003, but he never had a 500-yard season as a receiver. 

    Clifton was remarkably underappreciated. The Packers wouldn't be able to justify passing on him here, especially with hindsight indicating they'd still at least wind up with Vonnie Holliday and Aaron Kampman on the edge. 

15. Denver Broncos: CB Deltha O'Neal, California

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    What actually happened: Drafted CB Deltha O'Neal

    Where he was actually picked: 15th overall by the Broncos

    Completing a nice run of teams that should be pretty satisfied with what they did early in this draft (disregarding that Brady guy) are the Denver Broncos, who landed a playmaking two-time Pro Bowler with the 15th overall selection. 

    Cornerback Deltha O'Neal might not have been consistently elite, but his 34 interceptions between 2000 and 2008 ranked fifth in football, and he had a double-digit-pick season with the Bengals in 2005 (there have been just two such campaigns since). 

    He beats out a pair of surprisingly strong pass-rushers because the Broncos would eventually be in strong shape with Trevor Pryce, Bertrand Berry and Reggie Hayward on the edge. 

16. San Francisco 49ers: Edge Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, San Diego State

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    What actually happened: Drafted LB Julian Peterson

    Where he was actually pickedFifth round by the Packers

    The first of those aforementioned edge-rushers—Gbaja-Biamila—at least gives the San Francisco 49ers an impact front-seven defender in place of the stolen Peterson with the median pick of the first round. 

    Among players in this draft class, only Abraham recorded more sacks than Gbaja-Biamila (74.5), making him a steal for Green Bay in Round 5. He recorded double-digit sacks in four consecutive seasons, he forced multiple fumbles in seven consecutive campaigns, and he was a Pro Bowler in 2003. 

    He'd play a big role on a San Francisco team that lacked oomph in that pass rush during this era. 

17. Oakland Raiders: Edge Adewale Ogunleye, Indiana

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    What actually happened: Drafted K Sebastian Janikowski

    Where he was actually pickedHe wasn't

    While KGB was a Pro Bowler in '03, undrafted Miami Dolphins edge defender Adewale Ogunleye was even more productive than the Packers' steal.

    The Indiana product led the AFC with 15 sacks that year, and it wasn't a complete anomaly. He recorded nine or more sacks in three other campaigns during a strong 10-year career with Miami and Chicago (and Houston for a few games at the end). 

    His prime was still pretty shortlived, but Ogunleye also helped the Bears reach Super Bowl XLI in 2006 (he had three sacks in four career playoff games). So while Janikowski was one hell of a kicker, there's little doubt Ogunleye would have made more sense for a Raiders team that didn't get a lot of production off the edge during this era. 

18. New York Jets: S Deon Grant, Tennessee

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    What actually happened: Drafted QB Chad Pennington

    Where he was actually picked: Second round by the Panthers

    While Pennington eventually became a decent starter for the Jets, he was a checkdown artist with a clear ceiling and was never elite. They won just two playoff games with him under center. 

    So instead we'll give them Deon Grant, an ironman safety who didn't miss a game over the course of an 11-year career with the Panthers, Jaguars, Seahawks and Giants. 

    Grant never made a Pro Bowl but recorded 30 interceptions and was a highly respected leader who played a significant role in New York's 2011 Super Bowl season.

    The Gang Green secondary could have used a guy like that. 

19. Seattle Seahawks: WR Laveranues Coles, Florida State

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    What actually happened: Drafted RB Shaun Alexander

    Where he was actually pickedThird round by the Jets

    This was a tough call because it meant the Jets were passing on real-life third-round pick Laveranues Coles, who shined as a Jets starter in 2001 and 2002 before putting up more than 1,200 yards and scoring six touchdowns in a Pro Bowl 2003 campaign with the Redskins. 

    Over the course of the Florida State product's 10-year career, only 11 players compiled more receiving yards than he did. He also remained productive during a second stint with the team that spanned into his 30s, which is something the Seattle Seahawks would likely value with offensive weapon Shaun Alexander off the board. 

    He'd at least be a slight upgrade over the team's actual third-round pick, Darrell Jackson. 

20. Detroit Lions: WR Darrell Jackson, Florida

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    What actually happened: Drafted OT Stockar McDougle 

    Where he was actually pickedThird round by the Seahawks

    It would have been too easy to give Coles to the Jets and Jackson to the Seahawks, but we would have done it if that's how we saw this do-over playing out. Instead, the Detroit Lions luck out by landing Jackson, who went over 1,000 yards with seven-plus touchdowns in three of his first five NFL seasons. 

    Remember that the pre-Roy Williams/Calvin Johnson Lions were a mess at wide receiver. This would have enabled them to avoid relying as heavily as they did on dudes like Az-Zahir Hakim, Mike Furrey, Bill Schroeder and Shaun McDonald. 

    Besides, McDougle started just 54 games in five unspectacular seasons. 

21. Kansas City Chiefs: OT Marvel Smith, Arizona State

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    What actually happened: Drafted WR Sylvester Morris 

    Where he was actually picked: Second round by the Steelers

    Who the hell is Sylvester Morris? Fair question. The Jackson State product caught 48 passes for 678 yards as a rookie in 2000, but injuries prevented him from catching another pass in the NFL.

    So instead we'll give the Kansas City Chiefs solid tackle Marvel Smith, who would have been an upgrade over John Tait and eventually could have formed a superb duo with Willie Roaf. 

    The unheralded Smith excelled as a seven-year starter in Pittsburgh, where he was a Pro Bowler in 2004. 

22. Seattle Seahawks: RB Thomas Jones, Virginia

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    What actually happened: Drafted OT Chris McIntosh

    Where he was actually pickedSeventh overall by the Cardinals

    And there's your Shaun Alexander replacement. 

    Thomas Jones was never the player Alexander was, but the No. 7 overall pick went over 1,000 yards in five consecutive seasons between 2005 and 2009. He recorded 130 yards from scrimmage for the Bears in Super Bowl XLI and was a 30-year-old Pro Bowler with the Jets in 2008. 

    Obviously he makes a lot more sense than McIntosh, who made just 13 NFL starts before a recurring neck injury forced him to retire in 2002. 

23. Carolina Panthers: DT Corey Simon, Florida State

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    What actually happened: CB Rashard Anderson

    Where he was actually pickedSixth overall by the Eagles

    In five seasons as a quality starter up front for the Philadelphia Eagles, Corey Simon recorded 32.5 sacks, forced eight fumbles and registered 44 tackles for loss. That was enough for the Eagles to hit him with the franchise tag in 2005, but that was rescinded, he signed with the Colts and was never the same before injuries and declining play ended his career at age 30. 

    Still, at this point in Round 1, a guy with the above Pro Bowl resume is worthy of reselection. He and Kris Jenkins would have formed a sick duo in 2002 and 2003. 

24. San Francisco 49ers: LB Na'il Diggs, Ohio State

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    What actually happened: Drafted CB Ahmed Plummer 

    Where he was actually pickedFourth round by the Packers

    Plummer intercepted seven passes as a sophomore and four more in 2003, but he had just one pick in his other four pro campaigns and was out of the league before turning 30.

    Injuries derailed his career, whereas Packers fourth-round linebacker Na'il Diggs was an effective starter over the course of an 11-year span with Green Bay, Carolina and St. Louis. He was never a star, but he had staying power and he was always a steady run defender. 

    Diggs would essentially replace Peterson, who was drafted far before San Francisco hit the clock. 

25. Minnesota Vikings: DT Chris Hovan, Boston College

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    What actually happened: Drafted DT Chris Hovan

    Where he was actually picked: 25th overall by the Vikings

    This class contained several good-not-great defensive tackles, starting with Simon but also including Chis Hovan, Cornelius Griffin and Fred Robbins. Might as well give Hovan to the Minnesota Vikings, who took the Boston College product in this spot and benefitted from five years of his service. 

    Hovan was never a Pro Bowler, but he recorded a solid 17 sacks while starting 70 games in Minnesota before starting 79 more and registering 220 tackles in five campaigns as a starter with the Buccaneers. 

    He missed just four games in 10 NFL seasons. 

26. Buffalo Bills: DT Cornelius Griffin, Alabama

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    What actually happened: Drafted edge Erik Flowers

    Where he was actually picked: Second round by the Giants

    The next longtime interior defensive line starter is Cornelius Griffin, who had 29 sacks and 461 tackles over the course of a 10-year run with the Giants and Redskins.

    Like Hovan, he wasn't a star, but he started 130 games and missed only 14 in a decade. 

    The Alabama product would have been a much better selection than Flowers, who started six games in five years and was out of pro football by 2006.

27. New York Jets: QB Marc Bulger, West Virginia

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    What actually happened: Drafted TE Anthony Becht 

    Where he was actually picked: Sixth round by the Saints

    Rather than going down the Chad Pennington road again, the Jets would be better off using the last of their four first-round reselections on the Saints' real-life sixth-round pick, Marc Bulger. 

    The West Virginia product wasn't a consistently effective starting quarterback, but he had his moments. He went 12-3 and earned a Pro Bowl nod in place of Kurt Warner with the 2003 Rams, he averaged a league-high 287.1 yards per game in 2005, and he made it back to the Pro Bowl with 24 touchdown passes to eight interceptions and more than 4,000 passing yards in 2006. 

    Bulger had the ability to catch fire and do things that Pennington wasn't capable of. That makes him worthy of a late-first-round selection in place of the steady but unspectacular Becht. 

28. Indianapolis Colts: LB Dhani Jones, Michigan

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    What actually happened: Drafted LB Rob Morris 

    Where he was actually pickedSixth round by the Giants

    Morris was a steady starter for a few years and a solid backup for a few more, but he didn't have the playmaking ability or the staying power that Dhani Jones offered the Giants, Eagles and Bengals coming out of Round 6. 

    The Michigan product played a key role on the 2004 Eagles' Super Bowl team and eventually wrapped up his career with 131 starts and nearly 900 tackles. He was also a popular player and a respected leader. 

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: OL Brad Meester, Northern Iowa

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    What actually happened: Drafted WR R. Jay Soward 

    Where he was actually picked: Second round by the Jaguars

    Fun fact: Aside from Brady, Soward is the only player from this draft class who remains on an NFL roster. But that's only because he's still technically a Jacksonville Jaguar while serving an indefinite suspension. He'll probably never make his 15th career catch. 

    Fortunately for the Jags, they nailed their second-round pick with Brad Meester, who remains available. The longtime center started 209 games over the course of a phenomenal 14-year career in Jacksonville. He didn't get many accolades, but he missed just 15 starts in nearly a decade-and-a-half. 

    That reliability is valuable. 

30. Tennessee Titans: DT Fred Robbins, Wake Forest

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    What actually happened: Drafted LB Keith Bulluck 

    Where he was actually picked: Second round by the Vikings

    With Bulluck long gone, the Tennessee Titans land the last somewhat ordinary but reliable defensive tackle in Fred Robbins, who never made a Pro Bowl but started 148 games in 12 seasons with the Vikings, Giants and Rams. 

    Beyond his rookie season, the Wake Forest product missed just four games in 11 years. He finished his steady career with 370 tackles and 35.5 sacks. He'd fill a hole before eventually teaming up with Albert Haynesworth. 

31. St. Louis Rams: LB Marcus Washington, Auburn

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    What actually happened: Drafted RB Trung Canidate 

    Where he was actually pickedSecond round by the Colts

    Canidate wasn't a bad complement to Marshall Faulk, but the Arizona product was never a lead back for a full season, and his pro career was over before he turned 27. Instead, we'll address what was a need at the time for the Rams while adding one of the best players available in Marcus Washington. 

    The linebacker out of Auburn was a steady starter for seven years in Indianapolis and Washington, and he even earned a Pro Bowl nod with the Redskins in 2004. He finished his career with 646 tackles, 37.5 sacks and 113 starts. 

    In hindsight, he shouldn't have slipped to the bottom of Round 2.