The 2001 NFL Draft class was very interesting, with most of the best players being selected outside of the first round. This draft featured potential Hall of Famers, over 85 total Pro Bowl Selections, over 8 total Super Bowl rings and even a NFL MVP winner.
NFL team owners and staff members come into a draft to obviously make their franchises and rosters better, but this is easier said than done. First, teams have to figure if they need pieces added on offense, defense, special teams, or all of the above. Once they figure that out, they then have to figure out the positions. For example, many quarterbacks are sacked more than others, which usually means they have a bad offensive line and need to draft linemen. Other teams may need to draft a quarterback because their current quarterback is underachieving.
Going into the draft, teams must also consider how many draft picks they have in their possession. If they have multiple picks, they then have to determine which position they need the most and which is more important to their team getting better. This causes teams to real breakdown their roster and make important decisions that will effect their team for the upcoming and future seasons. When teams have only 1 or 2 picks, this makes their decisions the hardest because they can not make up for it in the later rounds as they can only pick 2 positions at the most.
In 2001, many teams passed up on players they may have changed their franchise around but missed out on the opportunity.
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20 Atlanta Falcons: Drew Brees
Falcons Original Pick: Michael Vick, QB
Brees Original Pick: 2nd Round, 32nd Overall by Chargers
In the original 2001 Draft, Drew Brees was the first pick….of the second round. Brees started his career with the San Diego Chargers but it was short-lived due to an injury and the Chargers drafting a quarterback in 2004 by the name of Phillip Rivers. Brees suffered a bad dislocation in his shoulder joint and a 360 degree tear of his labrum and rotator cuff in 2003, but the next season came back better than ever. Brees led the Chargers to a 12-4 record and completed 65.5% of his passes for 3,159 yards, 27 touchdowns, 7 interceptions and a passer rating of 104.8. This season earned Bress the 2004 Comeback Player of the Year. After this season, Brees became a free agent, went New Orleans, and never looked back.
Since joining the Saints, Brees has become one of the elite quarterbacks in the league. Brees is currently the Saints franchise leader in career wins, passing touchdowns, pass attempts, pass completions and passing touchdowns. Brees is definitely a 1st ballot Hall of Famer.
19 Arizona Cardinals: LaDainian Tomlinson
Cardinals Original Pick: Leonard Davis
Tomlinson Original Pick: 1st Round, 5th overall by Chargers
The Chargers had their best draft ever in 2001 by selecting Tomlinson and stealing Brees in the second round, the two players that should have went #1 and #2 in the draft.
When Tomlinson was drafted, he was the best running back the league had seen in years. His rookie year, Tomlinson had 339 carries for 1,236 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. For his next seven seasons, Tomlinson did not slow down as he rushed for over 1,000 yards in all but his last season with the Chargers.
In 2006, Tomlinson had a breakout year, rushing 348 times for 1,815 yards,28 rushing touchdowns (NFL record), and 31 total touchdowns (NFL Record). This earned him the 2006 NFL MVP Award.
18 Cleveland Browns: Richard Seymour
Browns Original Pick: Gerard Warren
Seymour Original Pick: 1st Round, 6th Overall by New England Patriots
Richard Seymour was a huge part of the Patriots success and could have helped the Browns, who were desperately in need of a defensive threat. With the Patriots, Seymour went to 5 Pro Bowls, 3 First All-Pro teams and helped the Patriots to four Super Bowls, winning three of those. For his career, Seymour finished with 496 tackles, 57.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions.
17 Cincinnati Bengals: Reggie Wayne
Bengals Original Pick: Justin Smith
Wayne Original Pick: 1st Round, 30th overall by Indianapolis Colts
Reggie Wayne came into the league and started off a little slow, having under 850 yards his first three seasons, which isn't terrible when you're playing beside Marvin Harrison. However, Wayne and Peyton Manning found a connection in Wayne's fourth season, as Wayne had 77 catches for 1,210 yards and 12 TDs (career high). After that season, Wayne went on to have over 1,000 receiving yards in seven of his next eight seasons.
In 2007, Manning and Wayne helped carry the Colts all the way to Super Bowl XLI, where they beat the Chicago Bears 29-17. Wayne finished the game with 2 catches for 61 yards, including a 53-yd touchdown pass from Manning.
16 San Diego Chargers: Matt Light
Chargers Original Pick: LaDainian Tomlinson
Light's Original Pick: 2nd Round, 48th Overall by New England Patriots
Matt Light was one of the biggest steals in the draft, with him going late in the second round. Before Light came to the Patriots, they had no Super Bowl wins. During Light's rookie season, the Patriots rushing game was strong as Brady also had much more protection and time to throw the ball. This led to the Patriots going all the way to the Super Bowl. The Patriots went on to beat the NFL's best team, the St. Louis Rams, 20-17 in Super Bowl XXXVI, earning the Patriots their first championship.
Light's pass and rush protection was no fluke as the Patriots went on to win Super Bowl XXXVIII and Super Bowl XXXIX with Light as the lead blocker.
15 New England Patriots: Chad Johnson
Patriots Original Pick: Richard Seymour
Johnson's Original Pick: 2nd Round, 36th Overall
Imagine a team with Tom Brady, Chad Johnson and Bill Belichick. Sounds like a reality show right, but we will never know now what could have been. Johnson actually went to the Patriots in 2011 but wasn't the Johnson, or Ochocinco that we all knew and loved in Cincinnati.
Johnson came out his rookie and only started 3 games and only had 329 receiving yards. However, the very next season, Johnson came out the gates determined to make a name for himself getting over 1,000 yards. In 2005, Johnson helped the Bengals reach the postseason for the first time since 1990, although they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round.
14 San Francisco 49ers: Steve Smith
49ers Original Pick: Andre Carter
Smith's Original Pick: 3rd Round, 74th Overall by Carolina Panthers
The Panthers treated Smith just like a rookie, only starting him in one game, earning him 10 catches for 154 yards. The following season they put more faith in him, starting him 13 games, which gave him a increase in receptions and receiving yards. In his 3rd season, not only did Smith break out for 1,110 receiving yards but he help lead the Panthers to their first Super Bowl in franchise history, although they fell short to the New England Patriots.
Before the 2015-16 season started, Smith announced he would retire. However, after 7 games, Smith tore his achilles tendon, causing him to miss the remainder of the season. After the injury, Smith announced he would come back for another season.
If the 49ers would have drafted Smith, he would have been on the same team as a player by the name of Terrell Owens. Just the thought of that combination sends chills down your spine.
13 Chicago Bears: Steve Hutchinson
Bears Original Pick: David Terrell
Hutchinson's Original Pick: 1st Round, 17th Overall by Seattle Seahawks
Steve Hutchinson is one of those players any running back or quarterback would love to have on their team. Hutchinson help lead the Seahawks to three straight playoff appearances for the first time in franchise history. In 2005, he helped earned Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander a MVP Award. After their 21-10 loss to the Pittsburg Steelers in Super Bowl XL, Hutchinson took his talent to Minnesota, where he continued to play well for the Vikings.
In Minnesota, Hutchinson had to block for a player by the name of Adrian Peterson, which is not a very hard task. Nonetheless, Peterson rushed for over 1,000 yards his first four seasons with help from Hutchinson.
12 Seattle Seahawks: Adrian Wilson
Seahawks Original Pick: Koren Robinson
Wilson Original Pick: 3rd Round, 64th Overall by Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals did not know Adrian Wilson's full potential when he came onto the NFL scene as a rookie, having started no games as a rookie and totaling only 32 tackles. The Cardinals organization saw something they liked in Wilson as he started all 14 games he played in the following season and had a total of 91 tackles.
In the 2003 season, the Cardinals overall defense ranked 26th. The following season in 2004, with the help of Wilson, they ranked 12th overall. In 2008, after making the playoffs with a 9-7 record, the Cardinals knocked off the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, and Philadelphia Eagles to face the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII. Although they fell short in the end, losing 27-23, it was a great season and Wilson played a huge role.
11 Green Bay Packers: Justin Smith
Packers Original Pick: Jamal Reynolds
Smith's Original Pick: 1st Round, 4th Overall by Cincinnati Bengals
When Smith arrived with the Bengals he had some good years with them, but he made the most out of his time in the league when he joined the San Francisco 49ers in 2008.
With the 49ers, Smith went to 5 Pro Bowl in 5 years and was selected to 4 All-Pro teams. For four straight seasons, the 49ers ranked in the top 5 in total defense. The 49ers also made it to 3 straight Conference Championships, including a trip to Super Bowl XLVII where they lost to the Baltimore Ravens 34-31.
10 Carolina Panthers: Kris Jenkins
Panthers Original Pick: Dan Morgan, LB
Jenkins Original Pick: 2nd Round, 44th Overall by Carolina Panthers
Kris Jenkins actually was drafted by the Panthers, but they should have drafted him in the first round. In his 7 seasons with the Panthers, Jenkins was one of the best DT's in the game. He went to 3 Pro Bowls and made 3 First Team All-Pro selections. Jenkins helped the Panthers to two NFC Championship games, including Super Bowl XXXVIII against the Patriots, which they lost 32-29. The Panthers ranked in the top 10 overall defense 5 times while Jenkins was on the roster.
9 St. Louis Rams: Michael Vick
Rams Original Pick: Damione Lewis, DT
Vick's Original Pick: 1st Round, 1st Overall by Atlanta Falcons
Everybody knows of Michael Vick with his time with the Falcons. Vick brought a quarterback style to the NFL that the league had not seen before. Vick could not only throw like a quarterback, but he could run like a back.
In 2006, Vick became the first QB in NFL history to run for over a 1,000 and throw for over 2,000 yards in a single season. In 2004, Vick led the Falcons to a 11-5 record and the NFC Championship game, losing to the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10.
After the dog fighting incident, Vick would sign with the very team who kept him out of the Super Bowl, the Eagles. Vick would move on to the Jets before finding a spot with his current team, the Steelers.
8 Jacksonville Jaguars: Alge Crumpler
Jaguars Original Pick: Marcus Stroud
Crumpler's original Pick: 2nd Round, 35th Overall
Alge Crumpler was one of Michael Vick's favorite targets in Atlanta. Although Crumpler never broke 1,000 yards in receiving, he was reliable and had good hands. Crumpler was a key part of that Falcons team that made it to the NFC Championship game in 2004. Crumpler was named to four Pro Bowls, all with the Falcons, and was even selected as a First Team All-Pro player in 2003. Crumpler finished his 10-year career with 373 receptions, 4,743 receiving yards and 39 receiving touchdowns.
7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Shaun Rogers
Buccaneers Original Pick: Kenyatta Walker
Rogers Original Pick: 2nd Round, 61st Overall by Detroit Lions
Shaun Rogers was a force from the time he stepped foot on NFL turf and although Rogers was a dominant presence on defense, he had no help around him, causing him to leave and go to the Cleveland Browns, and eventually the Saints, before joining the Giants. Rogers was elected to 3 Pro Bowl between 2 different teams (Lions and Browns) and was also selected to a Second-team All-Pro roster in 2004.
If Roger would have went to the Bucs in 2001, he would have played alongside Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Ronde Barber, and Warren Sapp, making them a defense to be reckoned with.
6 Washington Redskins: Marcus Stroud
Redskins Original Pick: Rod Garner
Stroud's Original Pick: 1st Round, 13th Overall by Jacksonville Jaguars
Marcus Stroud came into the league as a player to help the Jaguars defense right away. During his rookie season, he did not start in one single game. However, the Jaguars noticed the potential and started him every game over the next 4 seasons. The NFL also noticed his defensive ability because over those next 4 seasons, he was selected to 3 Pro Bowls and one Second-Team All-Pro roster. The Jaguars went from the 20th ranked overall defense to 6th , mostly due to the addition of Stroud.
If Stroud would have been drafted by the Skins, he would have been alongside LaVar Arrington, AntonioPierce, Bruce Smith, Fred Smoot, Champ Bailey, and Darrell Green.
5 New York Jets: Kyle Vanden Bosch
Jets Original Pick: Santana Moss
Bosch's Original Pick: 2nd Round, 34th Overall by Arizona Cardinals
Kyle Vaden Bosch's career started off shaky with the Cardinals where he found limited playing time over four seasons. After his time with the Cardinals, Bosch would make his way over to the Titans in Tennessee where he began to shine. In his 5 seasons with the Titans, he went to 3 Pro Bowls. The Titans defense were a low ranked squad prior to Vanden Bosch, who helped them move up in rank.
The Jets take Vanden Bosch in 2001, and he would have been on the other side of John Abraham, along with James Farrior, Marvin Jones, and Shaun Ellis.
4 Seattle Seahawks: Leonard Davis
Seahawks Original Pick: Steve Hutchinson
Davis Original Pick: 1st Round, 2nd Overall by Arizona Cardinals
The Seahawks actually got this draft pick right by drafting Hutchinson because he should not have been left behind this late. Hutchinson should have been a lottery pick, but they still would have had success with Davis.
Davis was a pretty good blocker with the Cardinals, but excelled with the Dallas Cowboys. His first year with the Cowboys in 2007, he was named to his very first Pro Bowl and All-Pro rosters. Davis went on to appear in two more Pro Bowls for his efforts in Dallas.
3 Detroit Lions: Deuce McAllister
Lions Original Pick: Jeff Backus
McAllister's Original Pick: 1st Round, 23rd Overall by New Orleans Saints
McAllister came in the league as a backup, seeing limited time on the field. The Saints saw the talent in McAllister and started him the following season. McAllister did not disappoint, rushing for over 1,000 yards 4 of the next 5 seasons. The performances during these seasons earned him 2 trips to the Pro Bowl.
The Lions could have used McAllister badly, seeing as they started 4 different quarterbacks and had no receivers or rushers break 1,000 yards.
2 Pittsburgh Steelers: Todd Heap
Steelers Original Pick: Casey Hampton
Heap's Original Pick: 1st Round, 31st Overall by Baltimore Ravens
Todd Heap is one of the favorite Ravens and best TE's in their franchise and for good reason. Heap was a go-to receiver when they needed a first down or big play, which is why you always hear "Heeeeeaaaapppppppp" when he catches the ball from the stands. Unfortunately, Heap was on the Ravens roster right between their two Super Bowl trips in 2000 and 2012, so he never got his well deserved championship.
If Heap would have went to the Steelers, not only would he have 2 Super Bowl rings, but he would be have been playing alongside offensive players such as Jerome Bettis, Hines Ward, Ben Roethlisberger, Willie Parker, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and Mike Wallace.
1 St. Louis Rams: Derrick Burgess
Rams Original Pick: Adam Archuleta
Burgess Original Pick: 3rd Round, 63rd Overall by Philadelphia Eagles
Burgess started off his NFL career really rough. In his first season, he found himself limited before breaking his foot in his second year. After coming back from the broken foot, Burgess then tore his achilles tendon. Eventually Burgess was healthy and helped lead the Eagles to a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl XXXIX appearance, where they fell short to New England Patriots.
The following year, Burgess left the Eagles and joined the Oakland Raiders where he went to 2 Pro Bowls and a Second-Team All-Pro roster.
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