There have been nice draft classes along the NFL history. But my question is: is the 2006 one the very best?
Although I'm Spanish, I follow NFL every weekend, watching almost all the matches. I've read lots of books about the sport. I've searched a lot to confirm my theory. Here are my reasons.
First of all, and most evident, overall player quality. In this draft you can't remark only one superstar. Two seasons after their debut, a big amount of players have shown the can start in many teams, and more important, be the cornerstone of some franchises. For example, the criticized No. 1, Mario Williams. After a disappointing rookie campaign for many experts, the huge #90 recorded a 14.0 sacks mark to reach the 3rd position in the rankings, only behind consolidated pass rushers as Jared Allen and Patrick Kerney, and even better than superstars like Osi Umenyiora or DeMarcus Ware.
In the same Texans you can find another excellent defensive piece, like DeMeco Ryans, who already recorded 155 tackles in his first pro season, and earning the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award.
Other reason: unexpected quality. Low-round choices or even undrafted players have reached a significant role in their franchises. More examples: Antoine Bethea (Colts), made a great job filling the gap that Bob Sanders' injury left and reaching the 105 tackles and 1 interception mark. Consequently, the following year the Colts let go former starter Mike Doss, and made Bethea, the 207th pick (6th round), the immediate starter. The result: Bethea travelled to Hawaii in order to play the Pro Bowl as replacement of Troy Polamalu.
Another perfect case is the Marques Colston's one. Coming from a I-AA college like Hofstra, the 252nd of 255 picks has reached the starting WR spot in the New Orleans Saints. In his two seasons, he has caught for more than 2,200 yards and 19 TDs.
Other players are Lawrence Vickers (Browns; considered by many as the best fullback right now in the game) and once undrafted John DiGiorgio who finished second on the Bills with 113 tackles last season, replacing injured Paul Posluszny.
My final reason is exclusiveness. In this generation you can find the most decisive returner of the history in Devin Hester, the unique knack for the turnover of Antonio Cromartie or Cortland Finnegan (another 7th rounder), the unusual blazing speed for their positions of Manny Lawson or the underused Vernon Davis, or the killing agility of undersized Elvis Dumervil or Maurice Jones-Drew. Although not the best in their roles, all of them are singular players in some aspect.
Finally, I'm also posting a list with the most important players in every position. Maybe you can find an amazing LB class but weaker in other spots, but overall, as I said, is the best.
Quarterbacks: Vince Young, Matt Leinart, Jay Cutler, Kellen Clemens, Tarvaris Jackson, Brodie Croyle.
Halfbacks: Joseph Addai, Maurice Jones-Drew, Laurence Maroney, Reggie Bush, Jerious Norwood, DeAngelo Williams, LenDale White, Leon Washington.
Fullbacks: Lawrence Vickers, Ahmard Hall
Tight-Ends: Vernon Davis, Owen Daniels, Leonard Pope, Joe Klopfenstein, Tony Scheffler, Anthony Fasano, Marcedes Lewis
Wide Receivers: Marques Colston, Brandon Marshall, Greg Jennings, Devin Hester, Santonio Holmes, Demetrius Williams, Sinorice Moss.
Offensive Linemen: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Winston Justice, Davin Joseph, Nicky Mangold, Ryan Cook, Jeremy Trueblood, Marcus McNeill, Chris Chester, Jahri Evans, Jason Spitz, Daryn Colledge, Max Jean-Gilles, Andrew Whitworth.
Defensive Tackles: Haloti Ngata, Brodrick Bunkley, Barry Cofield, Domata Peko, Dusty Dvoracek, John McCargo, Kevin Williams.
Defensive Ends: Mario Williams, Tamba Hali, Mark Anderson, Elvis Dumervil, Daryl Tapp.
Linebackers: DeMeco Ryans, Ernie Sims, AJ Hawk, Chad Greenway, D'Qwell Jackson, Thomas Howard, Freddie Keiaho, Rocky McIntosh, Omar Gaither, John DiGiorgio, Kamerion Wimbley, Mathias Kiwanuka, Bobby Carpenter, Manny Lawson.
Cornerbacks: Antonio Cromartie, Cortland Finnegan, Tye Hill, Johnathan Joseph, Kelly Jennings, Tim Jennings, Richard Marshall, Cedric Griffin
Safeties: Donte Whitner, Michael Huff, Antoine Bethea, Dawan Landry, Bernard Pollard, Danieal Manning, Roman Harper, Ko Simpson
Kickers: Stephen Gostkowski
Punters: Ryan Plackemeier, Sam Koch, Steve Weatherford
Now is your turn. Post if you agree or not, and your reasons. Please forgive me if I commited some stupid gramatical errors.