There were 11 players who have also been selected to the Pro Bowl drafted before Aaron Rodgers back in 2005. The list isn’t full of stars, but there’s a good group of guys who came before Rodgers. It seems he should have been the top pick that year, so he won’t be considered in these rankings. Here, we’ll look at the 23 other players drafted ahead of the superstar.
Obviously, none are as good as Rodgers, a two-time league MVP and a Super Bowl MVP during his championship year. Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks during his time in the NFL. He's been selected to the Pro Bowl six times and was also the AP's Athlete of the Year in 2011. Oh, and he led the league in touchdowns last season.
And obviously, every team on this list dropped the ball by not calling Rodgers name on that draft day back in 2005. Some teams really screwed up and were stuck with guys who never produced big numbers in the NFL. Some teams, on the other hand, drafted stars who are still playing in the league.
That's what you expect though. When you draft a guy in the first round you expect him to be one of the league's best producers and you expect a high level of production from him for years. A lot of guys on this list missed that mark, but some were able to prove worthy of a first round draft pick. None of them, though, have proved to be the same type of franchise-player that Rodgers has turned into since taking over in Green Bay.
23 Erasmus James, No. 18, Minnesota Vikings
Erasmus James started in just 12 games for his career. He starts off the list because he has proved unworthy of the first round draft spot. James has had an NFL career with no meaningful production and is just one of many guys who should not have been picked ahead of Aaron Rodgers. This defensive end managed four sacks and 23 tackles in his first year with Minnesota, but that was far better than any other season he saw in the league.
James jus didn’t seem to have what it took to remain a factor in NFL offenses. He played three years with the Vikings, but had a declining spot on the field after his first season (he started just two games in 2006; one game in 2007; and no games in 2008).
22 Troy Williamson, No. 7, Tennessee Titans
Looking back at Troy Williamson's career, it is obvious that he was drafted way to high by the Titans. Sure, every team on this list screwed up by overlooking Aaron Rodgers, but some screwed up more than others. And the Vikings were one of those teams who really could have benefited by going a different direction in the draft. But they went with a wide receiver who just never really stood out during his time in the NFL. Williamson, a wide receiver from South Carolina played through the 2009 season and spent time with the Vikings and the Jaguars. He totaled 87 receptions for 1,131 yards and four touchdowns in his brief career. Williamson was also a kick returner, but never scored a return touchdown and totaled just 987 returning yards throughout his career.
21 Alex Barron, No. 19, St. Louis Rams
This offensive lineman is another one of the guys on the list who had a solid career. He played for six seasons and put a lot of time in on the field. He started 74 games through his first five seasons and played a total of 87 games in the league. He barely saw the field during a lot of that time, but every day on the starting roster still adds to his legacy as a player.
But Barron was penalized a lot. He was the most penalized player during his time playing for the Rams. In 2009, he led the league with seven holding penalties. Eventually, Barron was traded to the Cowboys. Again, he saw some penalties and was essentially benched for a majority of the season and the few seasons after that he could not find a spot on a roster for the regular season.
20 Mike Williams, No. 10, Detroit Lions
Mike Williams didn’t get much action during most of his career. After his first two seasons in Detroit, Williams started just six games and totaled 37 receptions. Williams was an All-American during his time at USC playing college football. But he was tossed around the NFL after his first couple seasons in the league. After Detroit, he moved to the Oakland Raiders, then the Tennessee Titans and finished with the Seattle Seahawks. But by 2013, Williams signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. He was eventually released by the team and has not played in the NFL or the CFL since.
Williams, unlike a lot of guys who have issues maintaining a spot on the field, didn't struggle with injuries late in his career. Instead, Williams reportedly showed up overweight during his final couple of seasons in the league.
19 Braylon Edwards, No. 3, Cleveland Browns
Braylon Edwards proved to be a very talented wide receiver during one season but had far too many flaws for a guy who was picked third in the draft. Edwards shining season came in 2007 when he recorded 1,289 receiving yards with 16 receiving touchdowns. Those numbers are insanely good for a wide receiver playing on any team, especially when that team is the Browns. But Edwards only caught about 50 percent of his passes.
That trend remained constant throughout his career -- Edwards dropped the ball a lot. In 2008, his final full season with the Browns, Edwards caught 39.9 percent of his passes. Although Edwards made the Pro Bowl in 2017, his inability to catch the ball really hurts his standing on this list.
18 18. David Pollack, No. 17, Cincinnati Bengals
David Pollack averaged nearly a sack per game he started during his very brief time of playing. Pollack had 4.5 sacks in his career (he started a total of six games in his barely more than one season career). He also had one pass deflection, a fumble recovery and 22 tackles. Pollack seemingly made a difference when he was on the field, but he never had a chance to do anything more.
Pollack was never able to prove if he could continue that production because he suffered an injury that could have left him paralyzed. By April 2008, it was made public that Pollack wasn’t comfortable with where he was at medically and would retire. He could have been ranked much higher on this list, but he never got a chance to prove more.
17 Travis Johnson, No. 16, Houston Texans
Travis Johnson played four years for the Texans and two years for the Chargers. The defensive end finished his NFL career with 136 tackles, three sacks and one interception. Johnson, who was named a high-school All-American in 1999 by USA Today, had a great college career at Florida State.
But Johnson was limited from the beginning because of injuries. He started in just 11 games throughout his first two years and started a career total of 38 games. In 2007 he even managed five pass deflections and 27 tackles after starting 13 games (in 2008 he started the most games he has in a season with 14). But by 2009, he wasn’t starting anymore. Johnson was traded to the Chargers for a sixth round draft pick in 2010.
16 Matt Jones, No. 21, Jacksonville Jaguars
With just four seasons in the league, Matt Jones doesn’t deserve any higher of a spot on this list. In Jones’ career, he played a total of 54 games and started 15 of those (the most games he started in a season was 10 and that was in 2008, his final season in the league). Clayton’s most receptions in a season was in 2008 when he caught 65 of his 107 targets. Jones had 761 yards from receptions that year, but it was by far the best of his career (he also caught 643 yards off of 41 receptions in 2006). But he only played in the NFL for four seasons. In 2009 he was released by the Jaguars after substance-abuse related arrests and never ended up signing to a team and eventually retired in 2010.
15 Fabian Washington, No. 23, Oakland Raiders
The Raiders drafted Fabian Washington the pick before Aaron Rodgers. Washington, a cornerback, was drafted No. 23 and was coming from a stint in college at Nebraska. Washington saw regular-season action with the Raiders and the Ravens from 2005 to 2010. So, he didn’t have a terrible career. Although his main highlights came in college, Washington showed he was worthy of a NFL career (even though it lasted just six seasons).
Washington played through the 2010 season, and was kind of part of the league during 2011. But as he was trying to gain a spot on the Saints roster back in 2011, he suffered an injury that crushed his chances at remaining in the league. Washington had an alright career, but nothing that was worthy of a higher spot on this list.
14 Mark Clayton, No. 22, Baltimore Ravens
Mark Clayton never proved to be a star in the league, but he was a playmaker. Though that playmaking ability was very inconsistent. But the thing that was interesting about Clayton was his ability to throw the ball. Clayton threw the ball five times throughout in his career, and in 2008, he tossed a 32-yard touchdown. Clayton was more known for his receiving ability, which didn’t quite match the abilities shown by some of the upcoming receivers.
But Clayton produced in the NFL for seven seasons. And in 2006, he was targeted 113 times when playing for the Ravens (that year was his best and he had 67 receptions for 939 yards and five touchdowns). Although Clayton was never a Pro Bowl receiver, he accounted for 260 receptions in his career and 14 touchdowns.
13 Marcus Spears, No. 20, Dallas Cowboys
Marcus Spears is another guy who received most of his accolades in college. He was a consensus All-American, a first-team All-SEC team and was part of a BCS national championship team. Spears did end up seeing a longer career than most of the players drafted ahead of Aaron Rodgers. He played all the way through the 2013 season, though he wasn’t a consistent starter since 2009. But he did still play in nearly every game in 2011 and 2012. Spears last saw action with the Baltimore Ravens in 2013 before he was eventually waived by the team. But Spears had a pretty consistent career. Other than 2010 and 2013, he played in just about every game. If you don’t account for those two years, Spears played in all but one game and started in 82 games during that stretch.
12 Ronnie Brown, No. 2, Miami Dolphins
Ronnie Brown was the first of three running backs selected before Aaron Rodgers, and although he had a longer career than the other two, he didn't prove to be as talented. Brown was more of a dual threat in terms of rushing and receiving, but he never proved to dominate on either end. He was an average rusher and an average receiver for a running back. The other two guys drafted after him proved to be more powerful rushers in the league. Another thing hurting Brown was his inability to consistently get carries. He just didn't get as many carries as a guy should who played 10 seasons in the NFL. He rushed for more than 200 attempts in just four seasons and rushed for less than 50 attempts in his final four seasons.
11 Cadillac Williams, No. 5, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cadillac Williams had a pretty good (but short) career. He played with the Buccaneers through 2010 and finished off his career with a one-year stint with the St. Louis Rams. Although Williams never really had any noteworthy accomplishments during his time in the NFL, he did accumulate 4,038 rushing yards with an average of 3.8 yards per carry (he totaled 21 rushing touchdowns in his career, too).
Williams best season came during his rookie year when he rushed for 1,178 yards and six touchdowns. But he never saw that same production again. In 2009, he had 832 yards rushing with four touchdowns, but that was his best season since 2005. Williams finished his career as an average running back, who at times, demonstrated the ability to be a star, just not the consistency.
10 Cedric Benson, No. 4, Chicago Bears
Cedric Benson ranks ahead of Cadillac Williams because his overall career turned out better in the NFL. Compared to Williams, Benson spent more time and had better production throughout his years in the league. Benson's first three seasons were spent in Chicago, then he had a four-year stint with the Bengals before finishing his career in Green Bay. One thing that hurt Benson was the time he spent off the field. He only played in every game once, and that was in 2010.
But Benson did have a few good years in Cincinnati, where he recorded three-straight 1,000-plus yard rushing seasons. In total, Benson rushed for 6,017 yards and averaged 3.8 yards per carry and recorded 32 rushing touchdowns. Benson would have been much higher on this list if he were able to produce more than three good seasons.
9 Adam "Pacman" Jones, No. 6, Tennessee Titans
Even though Adam "Pacman" Jones was suspended because of off the field actions for the entire 2007 season and part of the 2008 season, he is still playing in the league. Currently, Jones is listed on the Bengals roster. The fact that Jones is still in the league helps his case in terms of these rankings. But he's also hurt on this list because from 2007 until 2011, Jones barely saw time on the field. He was almost nonexistent until the 2012 season. But Jones has proved to still have some of the talent that got him a top-10 draft pick back in 2005 (he was named to the NFL's All-Rookie Team that year). After the 2015, Jones made an appearance at his first Pro Bowl and in March 2016, Jones signed a three-year deal to remain on the Bengals.
8 Carlos Rogers, No. 9, Washington Redskins
Carlos Rogers played for the Redskins defensive unit through the 2010 season than played a few years with the 49ers before concluding his career in 2014 in Oakland. Rogers best year came in 2011 when he was selected to the Pro Bowl. During the 2011 season, Rogers recorded six interceptions and a touchdown, along with 40 tackles. The NFL Network named Rogers to their Top 100 Players of 2012 following his Pro Bowl season. He started 16 games that year, something he did during his entire time in San Francisco.
In all, Rogers started 123 games and recorded 17 interceptions with 412 sacks. He finished playing in Oakland, where he only saw action in seven games. By that time, it seemed he didn't have much left as he recorded just 26 tackles, forced a fumble and didn't have any interceptions.
7 Antrel Rolle, No. 8, Arizona Cardinals
Antrel Rolle had a respectable career in Arizona, but he was elevated to star status in New York with the Giants. Rolle was drafted out of Miami, where he was a unanimous All-American selection in 2004. In the NFL, he brought a lot of that same star power. In 2009, he was selected to his first of three Pro Bowls and was part of a Super Bowl winning team with the Giants. Rolle finished in the league with the Chicago Bears in 2015, posting a career total of 834 tackles, 26 interceptions and five defensive touchdowns.
Rolle started just about every game until he signed with the Bears. That year, he played in just seven games. He was eventually dropped by the Bears, and then in November 2016, Rolle announced his retirement.
6 Derrick Johnson, No. 15, Kansas City Chiefs
Derrick Johnson is among the list of guys still in the NFL, though he is currently listed on the injured reserve. But even if Johnson doesn’t get much more time, if any, on the field, he’ll have a very accomplished career to look back on. Johnson has been named to the Pro Bowl four times (2011-2013 and 2015). Johnson was selected as the Pro Bowl Defensive MVP in 2013 and was a first-team All-Pro selection in 2011.
Sure, Johnson’s career hasn’t been to the elite level of Aaron Rodgers, but it’s been pretty dang good. In total, he’s recorded 1,080 tackles, 27.5 sacks, 22 forced fumbles, 14 interceptions and four defensive touchdowns. Johnson tore his Achilles once again in December 2016, so the remainder of his career is in question, but it doesn’t affect his status on this list.
5 Shawne Merriman, No. 12, San Diego Chargers
This linebacker was selected to the Pro Bowl in each one of his first three seasons. But Shawne Merriman’s career trended downward after that. He started 32 games through those first three seasons but then started in just 22 games for the rest of his career (in 2009 he started 14 games but didn’t play any where near those numbers in his final three seasons).
Although Merriman didn’t play too well to close out his career, he did have a great start in the NFL. In his first year, he recorded 10 sacks and 43 tackles. In Merriman’s second season, he recorded a league-leading 17 sacks and added 48 tackles, an interception and four forced fumbles. When Merriman finished his last season in 2012, he had 45.5 sacks and 196 tackles.
4 Thomas Davis, No. 14, Carolina Panthers
Thomas Davis gets some extra points on this list for still remaining on the team he was drafted by back in 2005 – the Caronlina Panthers. Davis was picked as a safety but was transitioned to a linebacker during his first year in the league. In his early days, he was able to use his speed and talent to lock down Michael Vick.
Davis had a long tenure in the NFL. He started 131 games and has spent 11 seasons in the league so far. He’s even been getting better over the past couple of seasons. He turned 32 in 2015 but made the Pro Ball and was a first-team All-Pro selection. He followed that up with another Pro Bowl selection in 2016. He may have a couple more star-level seasons left, but he’s proved to be pretty dang good already.
3 Jammal Brown, No. 13, New Orleans Saints
Jammal Brown had six good seasons in the league. He had two Pro Bowl seasons and ended up playing in the NFL for seven seasons. He wasn’t one of the league’s best players, but Brown was good. Brown was drafted out of Oklahoma. Brown was recruited as a defensive tackle, but switched to an offensive lineman during his sophomore year. He was quickly named to the starting squad and won the Outland Trophy his senior year as he led the way for Adrian Peterson. That award is reserved for the nation’s top lineman. Brown was also part of a Super Bowl winning team when he played for the Saints. By the end of his career Brown had started 84 of the 85 games he played in.
2 Alex Smith, No. 2, San Francisco 49ers
Let's point out the obvious. No quarterback deserves to be compared to Aaron Rodgers, especially when their careers have played out like Alex Smith's. Smith is still in the league on a team that reached the playoffs. Smith has proved to be a star quarterback who's been selected to the Pro Bowl twice (2013 and 2016). Smith has thrown for 157 touchdowns and just 91 interceptions with 27,846 yards.
But when you look at the fact that Aaron Rodgers could have been the top pick instead...well...that hurts 49ers fans. Rodgers, without a doubt, has a Hall of Fame worthy career and one that is so much better than Smith's. But compared to most of the guys on this list, Smith hasn't done that bad.
1 DeMarcus Ware, No. 11, Dallas Cowboys
DeMarcus Ware spent his first nine seasons with the Cowboys, and is Dallas’ all-time leader with 117 sacks. He currently plays for the Broncos and was part of their Super Bowl winning season. Ware is currently on the injured reserve list, and even if he is unable to get back to full health, he will go down with a very good career. Ware, who was named to the 2000s All-Decade Team, has been selected to the Pro Bowl nine times (2006-2012, 2014 and 2015). He led the league in sacks twice, and was the NFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2008.
Ware has eight seasons with more than 10 sacks and has a total of 138.5 sacks in his career (his best season was in 2008 with 20 sacks). Ware, who has started a total of 173 games, has recorded 505 tackles in his 12 seasons in the NFL.
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