Re-Drafting the 2001 NFL Draft
The 2001 season was a big one in NFL history. At the end of it in New Orleans, one team's hopes for a dynasty were dashed. Another's just began.
But long before the St. Louis Rams and New England Patriots met in Super Bowl XXXVI, the 2001 NFL draft was held in New York City. Everyone knew who the No. 1 overall pick would be—but the team with the selection couldn't sign him and traded it. The draft also produced one of the best quarterbacks, running backs and offensive guards in league history.
However, what if things had gone differently? What if Michael Vick hadn't been the first overall selection by the Atlanta Falcons? What if we took another pass through the first round of the 2001 draft—only this time with the benefit of knowing which players would be stars and which ones would fall flat?
Have a seat in the wayback machine, buckle up and let's take a look back at the draft that could have been.
NOTE: For the purposes of this re-draft, draft-day trades were reversed. Trades that took place before that day (such as the deals that sent the No. 1 overall pick to Atlanta and veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to Seattle) were included, but the draft order is what it was when festivities got underway at Madison Square Garden.
1. Atlanta Falcons (From San Diego Chargers)
Original Pick: Michael Vick, QB, Virginia Tech
New Pick: Drew Brees, QB, Purdue
What could have been for the Falcons.
For the first several years of Michael Vick's career, the Falcons had no qualms about taking him with the first overall pick in 2001. By his second season, Vick was a Pro Bowler, and his ridiculous athleticism and cannon of a left arm electrified the fanbase in Atlanta.
But then came the dogfighting scandal in 2007 that would eventually land Vick in prison and bring about the end of his career with the Falcons.
Meanwhile, the Chargers drafted Brees in Round 2 after trading the first overall pick to the Falcons, because life is a circle.
Brees' time with the Chargers was fairly uneventful—as a one-time Pro Bowler in five seasons—but after signing with the New Orleans Saints as a free agent in 2006, all Brees did was make it to 12 Pro Bowls, win Offensive Player of the Year honors twice, lead the league in passing yards seven times, lead the Saints to a win in Super Bowl XLIV and become the NFL's record holder in both career passing yards and touchdown passes.
Other than that, he's only been OK.
If the idea of Brees being a Falcon isn't weird enough for you, try this on for size.
Atlanta only had the pick because the San Diego Chargers couldn't reach an agreement on a contract with Vick and made a trade the day before the draft. Had that not been an issue, in this re-draft, Brees' rights would have belonged to the Bolts...again.
The 2004 re-draft just exploded.
2. Arizona Cardinals
Original Pick: Leonard Davis, OL, Texas
New Pick: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, TCU
The Arizona Cardinals' selection of Leonard Davis at No. 2 was a sizable miss. It's not that he had an awful career—Davis made it to three straight Pro Bowls from 2007 to 2009.
But he did that as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. Davis' six seasons in Arizona were average at best.
If there's one thing LaDainian Tomlinson never was, it was average. During a large portion of his nine years with the Chargers, Tomlinson was the NFL's best running back. He led the league in rushing twice, led the NFL in rushing touchdowns three times (including a record 28 in 2006), won MVP honors in 2006 and made it to five Pro Bowls.
A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame since 2017, Tomlinson had three seasons with over 2,000 total yards. Whether it was running between the tackles, racing around the edge or catching the rock out of the backfield, there was nothing he didn't do at an elite level.
3. Cleveland Browns
Original Pick: Gerard Warren, DT, Florida
New Pick: Michael Vick, QB, Virginia Tech
There isn't a harder player to slot in this re-draft than Vick. When he was at his best, Vick was a phenomenon. Until he took the NFL by storm, we'd never really seen a player like him. He was the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season (2006). He was 10 games over .500 as the starter in Atlanta and had an amazing renaissance season with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010.
Vick's highlight reel is filled with jaw-dropping plays.
With the benefit of hindsight, though, you also have to consider that Vick only completed 60 percent of his passes in a season twice. And the dogfighting scandal that wiped out two seasons is the blackest of stains on his resume.
Still, quarterback is far and away the most important position in the NFL, and by 2001 Tim Couch (1999's No. 1 overall pick) was already a shell-shocked young signal-caller coming off a major injury.
The Browns just can't pass on Vick's talent in this spot.
4. Cincinnati Bengals
Original Pick: Justin Smith, DE, Missouri
New Pick: Richard Seymour, DT, Georgia
This is the first pick where an argument can be made for a team to stand pat. Justin Smith was an excellent defensive lineman over a 14-year career with the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers, piling up 87 career sacks and making it to five Pro Bowls.
But with the benefit of hindsight, there was a defensive lineman available to the Bengals at No. 4 who was better.
Whether it was inside in a four-man front or at defensive end on a three-man line, Richard Seymour was a key player for three Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots teams. A seven-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro, Seymour was ferocious while setting the edge and adept at collapsing the pocket.
He didn't have the longevity or statistical output of Smith (who won't wait long to hear his name called here), but in his prime he was a more athletic, disruptive player.
5. San Diego Chargers (from Atlanta Falcons)
Original Pick: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, TCU
New Pick: Steve Hutchinson, OG, Michigan
The notion that an NFL team would trade the first overall pick (for a relatively modest haul) and use the fifth selection, obtained in that deal, on a running back is indicative of how much the NFL has changed since 2001.
As unlikely as that would be in 2020, pulling off that same trade and then using the fifth pick on a guard would be even less likely.
Unless, that is, you could ensure the Chargers that guard would go on to be one of the best interior linemen in NFL history.
That's exactly what Steve Hutchinson did. Over a 12-year career with the Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans, Hutchinson started all 16 games in a season eight times, was named to the Pro Bowl seven times and earned first-team All-Pro honors five times. Hutchinson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020.
You don't pass on Hall of Famers—regardless of position.
6. New England Patriots
Original Pick: Richard Seymour, DT, Georgia
New Pick: Justin Smith, DE, Missouri
Given all that's happened over the last two decades, it's hard to believe the Patriots ever drafted sixth overall. But these Patriots were coming off a 5-11 season under first-year head coach Bill Belichick.
We know what happened from there. Drew Bledsoe got hurt, Tom Brady took over and the Pats finished the season by stunning the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Seymour didn't do a lot in his first year in New England, but he went on to be a defensive linchpin for Pats teams that won two more Super Bowls in short order. Seymour's off the board in this re-draft—but New England's defense wouldn't have skipped a beat by replacing him with Smith.
As good as Smith's career was, it's fascinating to wonder how he'd be thought of today had so much of his career not been spent on abysmal Cincinnati teams. Given the chance to shine in a brighter spotlight, he may have wound up in Canton.
7. Seattle Seahawks (from Dallas Cowboys)
Original Pick (San Francisco): Andre Carter, DE, Cal
New Pick: Reggie Wayne, WR, Miami (Fla.)
This pick was obtained from Dallas for wideout Joey Galloway in 2000. In 2001, the Seattle Seahawks then slid back two spots in a deal with the San Francisco 49ers and selected receiver Koren Robinson at No. 9. But draft-day deals are a no-go here, so the Seahawks are making the pick at No. 7.
After trading Galloway to the Cowboys the year before, the 2001 Seahawks badly needed wide receiver help. And to be fair, there was a time when it looked like Robinson was going to be a star—he caught 78 passes for 1,240 yards in 2002.
But that was as good as things ever got for Robinson. He never had another 1,000-yard season and was out of Seattle by 2005.
To say Reggie Wayne had a slightly better career is an understatement.
Over 14 seasons with the Colts, Wayne averaged over 1,000 yards per season and surpassed that threshold seven straight years from 2004 to 2010. A six-time Pro Bowler, Wayne also tallied over 100 receptions four times and piled up 82 career touchdowns.
8. Chicago Bears
Original Pick: David Terrell, WR, Michigan
New Pick: Steve Smith Sr., WR, Utah
In some respects, this re-draft is difficult because knowing a team's needs that long ago can be tricky.
However, the Chicago Bears apparently thought wide receiver was a prominent need in 2001—they used the eighth overall pick on lanky receiver David Terrell of Michigan (6'3", 212 lbs), who went on to catch 128 passes for 1,602 yards and nine scores…over his five-year NFL career.
In other words, his career was a good season from Steve Smith Sr.
By Smith's third season with the Carolina Panthers, he had topped 1,000 yards in a campaign. In his fifth season, Smith had essentially Terrell's career—103 receptions for 1,563 yards and 12 scores. Over 16 campaigns with the Panthers and Baltimore Ravens, Smith amassed eight 1,000-yard seasons, found the end zone 83 times and made it to five Pro Bowls.
9. San Francisco 49ers
Original Pick (Seattle): Koren Robinson, WR, NC State
New Pick: Chad Johnson, WR, Oregon State
Wide receiver run!
In 2001, the San Francisco 49ers made a move up in the first round, trading up to No. 7 to select edge-rusher Andre Carter at No. 7. It was a solid pick—Carter amassed 19 sacks over his first two seasons in the Bay Area.
But there's a better pick to be made at No. 9, sans the draft-day trade. Or at least a more entertaining one.
In his prime, Chad Johnson was one of the NFL's most dangerous receivers. Yes, Johnson could be, um, eccentric—especially later in his career. But by his second season with the Bengals, Johnson had topped 1,000 receiving yards—the first of six straight seasons in which he surpassed the mark. Over that six-year span, Johnson averaged eight touchdown receptions per season and made it to five Pro Bowls.
Johnson and Terrell Owens would have been an unstoppable duo on the field.
Well, no plan is perfect.
10. Green Bay Packers (from Seattle Seahawks)
Original Pick: Jamal Reynolds, DE, Florida State
New Pick: Matt Light, OT, Purdue
This is the pick the Packers got for dealing Matt Hasselbeck to ESPN. Or was it to Seattle? It was a long time ago.
In any event, this re-draft has been quite the retrospective punch in the gut for the Green Bay Packers. Wide receiver and defensive end were both positions the Pack needed help at in 2001. But with the top three wideouts and top two ends off the board, those positions are out.
Given that, it's time to go for the best player available at a premium position and select someone who would have been a massive improvement over the wasted pick that was Jamal Reynolds.
Purdue's Matt Light wasn't the first offensive tackle drafted in 2001. Or the third. But he was the best of his class—by his second season Light was a 16-game starter for the Patriots, and over 11 seasons with the Pats, Light was named a Pro Bowler three times and was a key part of an O-line that lifted Tom Brady and New England to five Super Bowls (and three championships).
11. Carolina Panthers
Original Pick: Dan Morgan, LB, Miami (Fla.)
New Pick: Kris Jenkins, DT, Maryland
With the 11th overall pick in 2001 draft, the Carolina Panthers selected Miami linebacker Dan Morgan. He was a capable defender who made a Pro Bowl, but in seven seasons, Morgan never played in all 16 games.
However, there won't be a new face joining these hypothetical Panthers—just one joining the team earlier than before.
In Round 2 of that same draft, the Panthers selected massive defensive tackle Kris Jenkins—all 6'4" and 360 pounds of him. In his second season, Jenkins tallied seven sacks and was named a Pro Bowler and first-team All Pro for the first time. He would repeat that honor during Carolina's run to the Super Bowl in 2003 and make two more Pro Bowls.
With the hindsight of knowing how well he fit on Carolina's first Super Bowl team, Jenkins is worth selecting a round earlier.
12. St. Louis Rams (from Kansas City Chiefs)
Original Pick: Damione Lewis, DT, Miami (Fla.)
New Pick: Adrian Wilson, S, NC State
This was another predraft trade involving a veteran quarterback. The Rams flipped Trent "worst luck ever" Green to Kansas City, as Green's injury two years prior had opened the door for Kurt Warner's ascension to a Hall of Fame career.
The 2000 Rams won 10 games and scored over 500 points for the second consecutive season. But the team's title defense was derailed by a leaky defensive unit that allowed 471 points.
The Rams won 14 games and made it back to the Super Bowl in 2001, but the Greatest Show on Turf era effectively ended that season with a loss to the upstart Patriots in New Orleans.
The Rams used the 12th pick that year on defensive tackle Damione Lewis and the 20th pick on Arizona State linebacker Adam Archuleta, whom the team moved to strong safety. Maybe that game at the Superdome would have ended differently had it been Adrian Wilson on the back end instead.
Wilson didn't play much for the Arizona Cardinals in 2001, but by his second season he was a full-time starter who topped 90 tackles and picked off four passes. By the time his 12-year career ended, Wilson had been to five Pro Bowls, topped 25 career sacks and 25 career interceptions and set an NFL record for sacks in a season by a defensive back with eight in 2005.
13. Jacksonville Jaguars
Original Pick: Marcus Stroud, DT, Georgia
New Pick: Marcus Stroud, DT, Georgia
This was bound to happen. Then and now coming together. A pick that, even two decades later, makes too much sense to change.
A collegiate teammate of Seymour's at Georgia, Marcus Stroud didn't take long to make an impact in Jacksonville. By his second season, he was a 16-game starter. He and John Henderson combined to form one of the best defensive tackle duos of the era—so good that it earned the nickname Hurricane Henderstroud.
When Stroud entered the NFL in 2001, the Jaguars were 16th in the league in total defense. By his third year (when he made the first of three straight Pro Bowl trips), the Jaguars ranked sixth in total defense. Stroud was also named a second-team All-Pro after that 2003 campaign.
Hey. If it isn't broken, there's no reason to fix it.
14. Buffalo Bills
Original Pick (Tampa Bay): Kenyatta Walker, OL, Florida
New Pick: Aaron Schobel, DE, TCU
In 2001, the Buffalo Bills traded out of this spot, sliding back seven spots in a deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before eventually settling on Ohio State cornerback Nate Clements.
The Bills then spent the entire regular season sliding back—they finished the year 3-13 and dead last in the AFC East.
This Bills team had problems all over the place. But the team actually fared pretty well early in the 2001 draft. Both Clements and second-round pick Aaron Schobel would eventually play in the Pro Bowl.
Schobel, in particular, was a hit in Western New York. His NFL career lasted less than a decade, and he never appeared in the playoffs. But over nine years in Buffalo, Schobel racked up 78 sacks, topping 10 in a season four times. Schobel was a two-time Pro Bowler, and over his career he sacked Tom Brady a dozen times.
Had Schobel played on teams that enjoyed more success, his profile would be much higher. But in many respects, the guy just "belongs" in Buffalo.
So in Buffalo he stays.
15. Washington Redskins
Original Pick: Rod Gardner, WR, Clemson
New Pick: Andre Carter, EDGE, Cal
In the original 2001 NFL draft, the San Francisco 49ers took Andre Carter with the seventh overall pick. The Washington Redskins, on the other hand, selected Clemson wideout Rod Gardner at No. 15.
The Redskins would take this do-over in a hot second.
Gardner wasn't a complete bust—he topped 1,000 yards on 71 catches with eight scores in 2002. But by 2005 he was out of the nation's capital, and by 2007 he was out of the NFL altogether.
Carter, on the other hand, carved out a solid career, piling up 80.5 sacks over 13 seasons with four teams. One of those teams was Washington—he played five seasons for the Redskins from 2006 to 2010, topping 10 sacks in 2007 and 2009.
All in all, Carter hit the 10-sack mark four times with the Redskins, 49ers and Patriots, and he earned a trip to the Pro Bowl after amassing 10 sacks in New England in 2011.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers
Original Pick (New York Jets): Santana Moss, WR, Miami (Fla.)
New Pick: Casey Hampton, DT, Texas
Some picks make way too much sense to change. And the Pittsburgh Steelers' selection of nose tackle Casey Hampton at No. 19 in 2001 is most assuredly one of those picks. Without the draft day trade, the Steelers get him here three picks earlier.
Hampton was a perfect fit in Pittsburgh's 3-4 defense—a 6'1", 325-pound lane-clogger who earned the nickname Big Snack over his 12 seasons in the Steel City. It didn't necessarily show on the stat sheet, as Hampton's career best in tackles was 46 in 2002, and he never had even three sacks in a season.
But Hampton was a fixture on Pittsburgh's defense for over a decade—a two-time Super Bowl champion who played in five Pro Bowls and was named a member of the Steelers' all-time team in 2007.
It's just impossible to envision Hampton playing in any colors other than black and gold.
He stays right where he always was.
Dude is kind of hard to move...although with the aid of a dolly we bumped him up a few picks.
17. Seattle Seahawks (from Green Bay Packers)
Original Pick: Steve Hutchinson, OG, Michigan
New Pick: Leonard Davis, OG, Texas
Sometimes, hindsight hurts.
The Seahawks got arguably the biggest steal of the first round of the 2001 draft with the selection of Hutchinson at No. 17, but in this re-draft he's long gone. That creates a massive hole on a line that spurred Seattle to five straight playoff trips from 2003 to 2007—including a berth in Super Bowl XL.
Fortunately, there's an option available who will come close to plugging it.
Yes, Davis was a disappointment over the first six seasons of his NFL career. But a large part of the reason for that was Arizona's insistence on playing him out of position at tackle. Once Davis moved on to Dallas in 2007 and slotted back into his natural position at guard, he quickly became one of the best in the game, making the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons with the team.
It raises the question of just how good Davis might have been if the Cardinals had played him where he belonged all along.
18. Detroit Lions
Original Pick: Jeff Backus, OT, Michigan
New Pick: Kyle Vanden Bosch, DE, Nebraska
The Detroit Lions were another team that fell victim to the poor offensive tackle class in 2001. Jeff Backus was one of the best of the lot—he played 12 seasons in Motown and started 191 games for the Lions.
But while Backus was a decent player, by no means was he a difference-maker.
Kyle Vanden Bosch, on the other hand, was—especially once he left the Cardinals for the Tennessee Titans. After four sacks in four years in the desert, Vanden Bosch joined the Titans in 2005. All he did in that first season in Tennessee was post a career-high 12.5 sacks and make the first of three Pro Bowls over a five-year span.
Once Vanden Bosch closed out his career with three years in (wait for it) Detroit, he had played 12 seasons and amassed 58 career sacks.
In this draft, Detroit gets the hard-nosed, versatile end for the entirety of his career.
19. New York Jets
Original Pick (Pittsburgh): Casey Hampton, DT, Texas
New Pick: Santana Moss, WR, Miami (Fla.)
Given that NFL executives are highly compensated professionals, it stands to reason that even all these years later, there would be at least a few picks that make as much sense now as they seemed to then.
None in this 2001 re-draft do so more than the New York Jets' selection of Santana Moss at No. 16—even if it's happening a few picks later now than it did then.
The 2000 Jets were a decent team, but Gang Green's passing game that year was fairly gangrenous. The team's top two pass-catchers in terms of receptions were fullback Richie Anderson and running back Curtis Martin.
By his third season with the Jets, Moss had racked up the first of what would be four 1,000-yard campaigns over a 14-year career. He wasn't a superstar wideout, but in his Pro Bowl season of 2005, Moss compiled an 84-catch, 1,483-yard, nine-touchdown stat line.
That big year came in Moss' first season with the Washington Redskins. Maybe in this do-over, in addition to having the sense to draft Moss, the Jets will keep him around.
20. St. Louis Rams
Original Pick: Adam Archuleta, S/LB, Arizona State
New Pick: Nate Clements, CB, Ohio State
The turn-of-the-century Rams teams were as loaded on offense as any in NFL history. There are those who will argue the Greatest Show on Turf is the gold standard of modern offenses.
But as great as those Rams attacks were, the team only appeared in two Super Bowls and won just one.
Perhaps that wouldn't have been the case had the Rams focused more draft capital on the defense—and hit on more picks.
In 2000, the Rams ranked 27th in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 237.3 yards per game. The addition of Hall of Fame cornerback Aeneas Williams in 2001 was a boost, but in this re-do, the Rams are taking that back-end re-do one step further.
Nate Clements isn't a Hall of Famer, but the former Ohio State standout had a 12-year career that included 826 tackles, 36 interceptions and a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2004.
Clements also played safety later in his career—a position of weakness for this Rams team.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Original Pick (Buffalo): Nate Clements, DB, Ohio State
New Pick: Kareem McKenzie, OT, Penn State
In the actual 2001 draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved up seven spots in a trade with the Buffalo Bills, using the 14th overall pick on offensive tackle Kenyatta Walker. After spending a year at left tackle, Walker flipped to the right side and became a serviceable (if unspectacular) starter for Tampa for six seasons.
There's no trade up in this re-draft, but the Buccaneers stayed on the offensive line.
Like Walker, Kareem McKenzie spent the majority of his 11-year NFL career at right tackle. And like Walker, McKenzie never made it to the Pro Bowl. But the 6'6", 328-pound mauler was an excellent run-blocker who started 153 of the 161 games in which he played, winning Super Bowls with the New York Giants in 2007 and 2011.
The 2001 draft wasn't a great time to draft an offensive tackle, but Tampa needed the help at the position. And of the guys who are left (including Walker), McKenzie had the best NFL career.
22. Indianapolis Colts
Original Pick: Reggie Wayne, WR, Miami (Fla.)
New Pick: Shaun Rogers, DT, Texas
The results weren't there yet, but the drafts of the late 20th and early 21st century are where the Colts built the teams that made the playoffs nine straight years from 2002 to 2010. The 2001 draft brought Reggie Wayne to Indy alongside Marvin Harrison.
But here, Wayne is long gone. So is most of the high-end offensive skill-position talent. So instead, the call is bolstering a defensive line that wouldn't add Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis until 2002 and 2003, respectively.
At 6'4" and 350 pounds, Shaun Rogers was a ferocious run defender—he topped 50 tackles three times, including a ridiculous 76 tackles with the Cleveland Browns in 2008. But Rogers could also get after the quarterback. Over seven years with the Lions from 2001 to 2007, he amassed a more than respectable 28.5 sacks.
As good as those Freeney/Mathis lines were for the Colts, adding Rogers between them would have made it all the more formidable.
23. New Orleans Saints
Original Pick: Deuce McAllister, RB, Ole Miss
New Pick: Deuce McAllister, RB, Ole Miss
There is a non-zero chance that since the first pick of this 2001 NFL re-draft fans of the Saints have been doing less reading and more hurling of obscenities.
Something about the notion of Brees landing in Atlanta may not have sat well with that group.
So, in the interest of leaving a few tomatoes for the rest of the world to, like, eat and stuff, I'll call the quota filled for yanking franchise icons out of the Big Easy.
Leaving Deuce McAllister as the 23rd pick in 2001 isn't just diplomacy, though. An excellent argument can be made that there isn't a better player available here—at least given what these Saints need.
Like, say, a running game after Ricky Williams' so-so 2000 season. He hit 1,000 yards but barely managed four yards per carry. The season to come would be his last in New Orleans.
That's largely because of McAllister. By 2002, McAllister peeled off his first of three straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons. In 2003 he topped 1,600 rushing yards and 2,100 total yards. Over his first two seasons as the lead back, McAllister scored 24 touchdowns.
He would go on to become the franchise's all-time leader in rushing yards.
24. Denver Broncos
Original Pick: Willie Middlebrooks, CB, Minnesota
New Pick: Rudi Johnson, RB, Auburn
Fun fact: The Denver Broncos had the NFL's second-ranked offense in 2000. While star tailback Terrell Davis had just suffered through an injury-ravaged campaign, rookie bruiser Mike Anderson had exploded for almost 1,500 yards on the ground.
The thing is, we have the benefit of hindsight. We know that, sadly, Davis would never be the same player he was during Denver's back-to-back Super Bowl wins. We also know Anderson wouldn't have another 1,000-yard season on the ground until 2005.
The Broncos stayed competitive over that span, coming within a game of the Super Bowl in 2005. If the team had a more dependable tailback, perhaps Denver would have enjoyed more success.
He went largely unnoticed on mediocre (at best) teams in Cincinnati, but Rudi Johnson was just that. After coming up just shy of 1,000 yards in his first season of meaningful game action in 2003, Johnson peeled off three straight years with at least 1,300 rushing yards and a dozen touchdowns. In 2004, he ran for 1,454 yards and made the Pro Bowl.
25. Philadelphia Eagles
Original Pick: Freddie Mitchell, WR, UCLA
New Pick: Chris Chambers, WR, Wisconsin
It's easy to see why the Philadelphia Eagles used their first pick on a wide receiver in 2001. The year before, the Eagles won 11 games but didn't have a receiver who caught 70 passes or had 750 receiving yards.
What is hard to look at (for Eagles fans at least) is the fact that Philly passed on Reggie Wayne for Freddie Mitchell at No. 25. And passed on Steve Smith for Mitchell. And passed on Chad Johnson for Mitchell.
And passed on Chris Chambers for Mitchell.
Of the group of wide receivers just mentioned, Chambers had the least professional success—he had just a single 1,000-yard season (2005) over his 10-year career. But Chambers also played much of his career with a subpar group of quarterbacks, he averaged at least 15 yards per catch in three separate seasons and made it to a Pro Bowl.
That's an upgrade over Mitchell.
26. Miami Dolphins
Original Pick: Jamar Fletcher, CB, Wisconsin
New Pick: Derrick Burgess, EDGE, Ole Miss
The turn-of-the-century Miami Dolphins teams were a lot better than many folks remember—especially on defense. Spearheaded by defensive end Jason Taylor and linebacker Zach Thomas, the Dolphins were sixth in the NFL in total defense and seventh in sacks in 2000.
However, once Trace Armstrong left for Oakland after that season, the Miami pass rush fell off—way off. In 2001, the Dolphins dropped all the way to 19th in sacks.
As a rookie with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2001, Derrick Burgess amassed six sacks, but he had just 2.5 sacks over the next three seasons combined—largely because of a broken foot and torn Achilles that wiped out two seasons.
Still, by 2005 Burgess was healthy again and ready to realize his potential with the Oakland Raiders. Over a three-year span from 2005 to 2007, Burgess notched 35 sacks and made it to a pair of Pro Bowls.
Better late than never.
27. Minnesota Vikings
Original Pick: Michael Bennett, RB, Wisconsin
New Pick: Travis Henry, RB, Tennessee
The Minnesota Vikings were in quite a pickle in 2001. The drafting of Michael Bennett at No. 27 overall was a move born of necessity—the team went 11-5 the year before and made the NFC Championship Game, but the sudden retirement of Robert Smith left a gaping hole at running back.
Bennett had a decent start to his career—he rushed for 1,296 yards in 2002. But that was Bennett's only 1,000-yard season, and by 2006, his time in the Twin Cities was over.
Travis Henry's career was also mostly a disappointment—after a red-hot start that included a Pro Bowl nod in 2002 and two straight 1,300-yard seasons in Buffalo, his production tailed way off, save for one big year in Tennessee. After just seven seasons, his NFL career was over—largely because of numerous violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy.
But these Vikings need a running back in the worst way—and Henry's the best back left on the board.
28. Oakland Raiders
Original Pick: Derrick Gibson, S, Florida State
New Pick: Dan Morgan, LB, Miami (Fla.)
To show you just how long ago the 2001 season really was, that year marked the last season of Jon Gruden's first Oakland tenure. It was also a season that ended in New England against the Patriots in one of the most infamous games in postseason history.
These Raiders were most definitely in win-now mode. In 2002, the team made it all the way to Super Bowl XXXVII before getting pounded by a Tampa By Buccaneers team coached by—Gruden.
Defensive deficiencies cost the Raiders dearly in both postseason setbacks, and getting a quick fix in that regard is worth sacrificing some career longevity here.
That's the trade-off with Dan Morgan. After a standout career at Miami, he was the 11th overall pick in this draft by the Panthers. On a per-game basis, Morgan was a difference-maker from day one—his 18 total tackles against the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII remains a record.
But lower-body injuries plagued Morgan throughout his career, and he was done in the NFL after just seven seasons.
29. St. Louis Rams (from Tennessee Titans)
Original Pick: Ryan Pickett, DT, Ohio State
New Pick: Todd Heap, TE, Arizona State
The Rams obtained their third 2001 first-rounder in the trade that sent edge-rusher Kevin Carter to Tennessee. And while so far the 2001 re-do has been all about improving the Rams defense, this third bite at the apple adds another weapon in the passing game for Warner.
You know, because he needed one so badly.
Todd Heap never posted gaudy stats (at least on a consistent basis)—his best statistical season was a 75-catch, 855-yard, seven-TD effort in 2005. But those numbers have to be viewed through the lens of a run-first Ravens team in an era when tight ends weren't used as downfield weapons as often as they are today.
In some ways, Heap was a player ahead of his time—but if you afforded Rams coach Mike Martz the benefit of hindsight and the knowledge of how best to utilize Heap, the tight end could've been be a force over the middle for an offense that was already next to impossible to stop.
30. New York Giants
Original Pick (Indianapolis): Reggie Wayne, WR, Miami (Fla.)
New Pick: Will Allen, CB, Syracuse
Heading into the 2001 season, the Giants were coming off the high of a Super Bowl run and the low of how that run ended: a 34-7 beatdown at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens. The Giants were aggressive during the draft, offering up three picks to move up eight spots to No. 22 and fill a major need with Syracuse corner Will Allen. Here they get him at No. 30.
The problem for the Giants is that this draft class wasn't strong at cornerback. Every corner in the class of 2001 combined to make one Pro Bowl.
That's um…not great.
Still, while Allen never made a Pro Bowl and suffered a pair of major knee injuries over his decade-plus in the NFL (not to mention the fraud conviction and prison sentence after his retirement), for quite a few years the 5'10", 195-pounder was a capable cover man who started 130 games over his career.
He was never great. But he was good for quite a while.
31. Baltimore Ravens
Original Pick: Todd Heap, TE, Arizona State
New Pick: Alge Crumpler, TE, North Carolina
Fresh off their blowout win over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV, the Ravens originally used the final pick in Round 1 on Heap. It's a pick that turned out pretty well for the team—Heap ranks second in team history in both receptions and receiving yardage and is Baltimore's record holder in touchdown grabs with 41.
Heap's not an option for the Ravens at No. 31 in this re-draft—but there's another player with a similar skill set who could've made a similar impact.
Alge Crumpler wasn't quite the downfield threat Heap was, but with 373 career receptions for 4,743 yards and 39 touchdowns over 10 NFL seasons, he was no slouch in that department. The four-time Pro Bowler's blocking acumen would also be quite welcome in Baltimore's run-heavy offense.
As consolation prizes go, Crumpler's a pretty good one.