There's no disputing the fact that guys like Andrew Luck and Matthew Stafford were franchise changing picks. Regardless of who else was still on the board, the Colts and the Lions could not have picked a better face for their franchise. On the other end, the Broncos could have done better than Von Miller. Yeah, he's one of the best defenders in the game right now and was integral to the Super Bowl victory. However, Denver may have won multiple championships had they gone another route.
Teams drafting in the first or second spot are terrible, and too many young rising stars have fallen from the top all too quickly. Too many times have we seen young stars fade away from the professional scene. In some cases, it's an organization failing the athlete.
But that’s not how it goes in most cases. Far too often though, the organization just flat out picked the wrong guy.
Rather than instant successes, the league has seen guys drafted in the first or second pick just fail miserably. It’s awful to watch. It's a never ending cycle of seeing a great college career turn into a multi-million-dollar contract, which then turns into wishful thinking. Hoping to go back and pick the right guy.
Well, here's that chance. Today, we go back and fix the mistakes made over 10 years of NFL Drafts. Today, we allow organizations to get the right guy as we re-draft the first two picks of the last 10 drafts.
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20 First Overall in 2007: Adrian Peterson
Original Pick: QB JaMarcus Russell
Running backs should almost never be drafted this high. Their career expectancy is short as they take some of the worst beatings on the field. And Peterson is no stranger to injuries of his own. But the future Hall of Famer would have benefited Oakland much more than anyone else in this draft could have.
A quarterback wasn't changing anything for Oakland this year. A quarterback wouldn't have had anyone reliable to throw to and drafting a wide receiver here could have ruined a young studs career as he wouldn't have had anyone reliable signal caller. It was like a terrible riddle that the Raiders couldn’t solve.
Peterson would have provided a level of talent for the Raiders offense that could have sparked this team back into the winning ways they saw in the 2002 Super Bowl run. Peterson was able to make a great career in Minnesota without much offensive help surrounding him. He definitely could have done the same as an Oakland Raider.
19 Second Overall in 2007: Calvin Johnson
Original Pick: WR Calvin Johnson
The Lions got this pick overwhelmingly right. Which may be a surprise to some as the team was back at the top of the draft just two years later. Clavin Johnson will go down as one of the best receivers in NFL history and was a major factor of getting the Lions from a winless season to a playoff-bound squad. Even though this transition took a few years.
More importantly, Johnson provided an offensive presence that made soon-to-be No. 1 draft pick Matthew Stafford a promising NFL star.
The Lions were absolute grotesque before Johnson and still were awful for a brief time after picking the explosive receiver. But the Lions apparently knew what they were doing and saw the immense talent that Johnson possessed.
Although the Lions never made a run at the Super Bowl while Johnson was in uniform, they surely were a scary team to face and that's all due to Johnson.
18 First Overall in 2008: Matt Ryan
Original Pick: OT Jake Long
The Dolphins rebounded to a playoff run after selecting an offensive tackle this year. Long was great in his first couple of seasons and consistent too. But he proved to be quite injury prone as his career progressed. Although Long seemed like a great pick in those first couple years, he ended up being a dud.
Miami really could have benefited from the presence of the quarterback out of Boston College, Matt Ryan. Ryan quickly turned a failing Falcons team into a playoff worthy powerhouse. Though they didn't advance past the wild card game, they still made the playoffs. Largely thanks to Ryan, who was selected as AP's Offensive Rookie of the Year. And since, Ryan has been a Pro Bowler four times, and has led his team to two 13-win seasons. He also is tied with Russell Wilson for the most wins by a quarterback in his first five seasons with 56.
17 Second Overall in 2008: Joe Flacco
Original Pick: DE Chris Long
This is the beginning of an awful stretch for the Rams. This year and next year they end up with the second pick, and they follow that by receiving the No. 1 pick in a couple years. Chris Long was good with the Rams, but he wasn't didn't have that level of greatness you would hope for from a guy drafted in the second spot. He didn't do anything to change the Rams losing ways. Eight years later and Long is no longer with the Rams. It was a long time to be with a team, but it essentially amounted to nothing. The Rams never really had a successful season during this stretch.
Maybe, if they had drafted a quarterback here instead of waiting a couple years, they could have avoided the worst-team-in-the-league distinction. Joe Flacco would have been the right guy for this system. The Rams already had a great running back in place with Steven Jackson and hall of fame wide receiver Torry Holt still had a couple years left.
Flacco isn't flashy, but he's consistent. That trend started early as the signal caller became the first rookie quarterback to win two playoff games. And he led the way to a Super Bowl victory in 2013. Flacco is going to go down as the best quarterback in Ravens history, but he could have done it for St. Louis.
16 First Overall in 2009: Matthew Stafford
Original Pick: QB Matthew Stafford
It's not often that a No. 1 picked quarterback is paired with an absolute stud wide receiver. It happened this year and man, it was fun to watch. It did however, take some time.
Detroit was on the verge of greatness after this year’s draft. They had a talented receiver with a great collegiate quarterback. Yet, not many quarterbacks can make the jump to the NFL without a few hiccups. Stafford was not an exception to this. He got beat up that first year and led his team to the second worst record in the league.
But it wasn't long before the duo began to really click, and it wasn’t long before the Lions became a playoff worthy team. Though it was tough to be a Detroit fan in these years, it made the team who they are today and provided a great base for future operations.
15 Second Overall in 2009: Clay Matthews
Original Pick: OT Jason Smith
The Rams originally selected Jason Smith, an offensive lineman who suffered from injuries early on in his rookie season. Drafting a lineman isn't a sexy thing to do, but often it pays off for years to come. That wasn't the case for the Rams.
If we could go back to when St. Louis still had a football team, the front office would have been much better suited drafting Clay Matthews, who was selected 26th by the Green Bay Packers. Matthews has been a staple of consistency since joint the league and has been the face of the Packers defense.
Maybe if the Rams put some effort into trying to stop touchdowns rather than trying to score them, they could still be playing in St. Louis.
14 First Overall in 2010: Antonio Brown
Original Pick: QB Sam Bradford
Here we are once again as the Rams are searching for its savior. Unfortunately for the team, his name was not Sam Bradford. It wasn't all Bradford's fault though. He didn't have anyone in his receiving corps that could truly threaten opposing defenses.
The Rams should have flipped the equation. They should have focused on talent surrounding the quarterback. It would have been a stretch at the time, but Antonio Brown would have been the spark that this offense needed. Brown is now among the league’s greatest. Whether the wide receiver was on Pittsburgh, or St. Louis, the result would have been the same – success. With Brown slashing through the oppositions defense, this squad could have inserted any waiver wire veteran quarterback into the mix and have been successful.
13 Second Overall in 2010: Rob Gronkowski
Original Pick: DT Ndamukong Suh
Lions fans are probably fuming at the thought of passing up Ndamukong Suh. Well, most fans of football probably agree that Suh should have been taken in one of the draft's top spots. But the Lions should have skipped over the defensive playmaker.
Why? Because the Lions, though they don't know it yet, will soon be a playoff-bound team. Fill the defensive vacancies with offseason acquisitions and later draft picks and focus on the offense now.
This would have nearly fueled a riot in Detroit at the time, but the Lions should have slapped a jersey on Rob Gronkowski. A tight end drafted that high is ludacris in most scenarios. But Gronk is a wide receiver and I-lineman mashed into one body. That type of talent deserves a Pick high in the first round.
12 First Overall in 2011: Cam Newton
Original Pick: QB Cam Newton
It is not often that the NFL sees a top-drafted quarterback turn into a star, but it sure is fun to watch when it happens. Cam Newton has evolved into one of the best quarterbacks in the past five years, and has been one of the faces of the league. Carolina has benefited from Newton's gameplay and character in more ways than most first picks can ever offer, even the good ones.
Although Carolina didn't make the playoffs until 2014, the Panthers could not have done any better than Newton, a three-time Pro Bowl selection and 2015's Most Valuable Player. And even though the Panthers won just six games in his first season, Newton was named the offensive player of the year. There was nobody better that the Panthers could have selected this season.
11 Second Overall in 2011: J. J. Watt
Original Pick: LB Von Miller
The Broncos did not screw up this year, far from it. Denver probably drafted someone who will go down as one of the best first rounders ever. But in terms of current production, J. J. Watt would have provided more for the franchise, and the Broncos should have selected Watt.
Of course, Von Miller is among the league's best on and off the field. He was named to Forbes 30 under 30 earlier this month. He's been the super bowl MVP.
But Watt has unbelievable skill and equal celebrity despite playing for the Texans. The guy has been Defensive Player of the Year three times while on Houston. Off the field he’s amazing, too. Watt has been featured on hit T.V. show The League, and makes appearances all over the place. It’s not often a defender, especially out in Houston, can garner that type of attention.
10 First Overall in 2012: Andrew Luck
Original Pick: QB Andrew Luck
No doubt about it, the Colts found the right guy. The city of Indianapolis knew that almost immediately. Luck threw for 3,000 yards in just first nine games. Luck also took the team with the worst record in the league a year prior to the playoffs. That type of turnaround is a dream come true. And Luck managed to prove this was no fluke. He took the Colts to three playoff appearances in his first three seasons.
Luck still has time left to win a Super Bowl and by the way he's been competing, it seems likely he'll accomplish a Super Bowl run. Yeah, there was a quarterback drafted later this year who has already won a Super Bowl, but no one should question whether or not Luck was the right pick for the Colts.
9 Second Overall in 2012: Russell Wilson
Original Pick: QB Robert Griffin III
So much hurt could have been avoided here. Robert Griffin III had some brief success and stardom. But now he's squandering what's left with the Browns. Who knows how many hard hits he can take before he eventually needs to hang up his jersey for good.
Washington would have been laughed at grabbing Russell Wilson this high. But the Redskins should have grabbed the Wisconsin quarterback with the second pick of the draft. Originally, he was drafted in the third round, and Seahawks fans could not be happier. Wilson has them to a Super Bowl. He took them to the postseason and followed up with a Super Bowl victory. No doubt, the defense played a major role in that success. But if Wilson were in Washington, there's no doubt that the Redskins would have more success than their current state. Rather than just missing the playoffs, Washington could be enjoying a similar run that Seattle has seen. The Seahawks have been in the playoffs each season with Wilson, including back-to-back appearances in the Super Bowl.
8 First Overall in 2013: Le'Veon Bell
Original Pick: OT Eric Fisher
There's nothing that drives fans crazy more than suffering through the league's worst season then getting rewarded with an offensive tackle. Understandably, these guys are crucial to a team’s success. But they’re not the guys who are going to be the face of a franchise, which is what every team should try to get when drafting this high.
Whether an offensive lineman is drafted 1st or 101st, they're going to fade into obscurity after signing their multi-million-dollar contract. Who better to replace an offensive lineman with than someone who looks like he can play without one. Le'Veon Bell uses his quick cuts and speed to burst through the defensive front, most of the time as if no one is even there. Even when a lineman misses a block Bell seemingly finds ways to sidestep the obstacle and run for a gain. The Steelers were luckily to draft him with the 48th pick, but the chiefs will be even luckier snagging Bell in the top pick this year.
7 Second Overall in 2013: DeAndre Hopkins
Original Pick: OT Luke Joeckel
DeAndre Hopkins' production trended downward in this most recent season. But he would have provided much more success in Jacksonville if the Jaguars would have drafted the wide out instead of Houston. Wide receivers are rarely drafted in the top picks, but Jacksonville may have avoided playing in four-straight seasons with less than five wins. That includes two three-win seasons.
There haven't been many teams as consistently bad as Jacksonville, and Hopkins could have been part of the rebuilding process down in Florida. The 2015 Pro Bowl selection has not missed a game throughout his NFL career. On the other hand, Jacksonville's pick Joeckel played in just five games his rookie year because of an ankle injury. Now, we'll wait and see if the constantly injured lineman will be able to make a comeback following knee surgery in 2016.
6 First Overall in 2014: Khalil Mack
Original Pick: DE Jadeveon Clowney
The list of accolades keeps growing for Khalil Mack. Imagine if he were part of the Texans defense. If Mack were part of the Texans defense, we'd be seeing Houston making a run in the playoffs. But instead the Texans snagged Clowney at the top of the draft.
You couldn't blame them. Clowney did more than you could ask for on the field in college and it seemed that same skill set would be a great fit in the NFL. Well, it was. But Clowney joined that ever growing list of guys being sidelined because of injuries.
Mack, on the other hand, has been making history. In 2015, Mack became the first person in NFL history to earn a selection at two positions on the AP All-Pro Team.
5 Second Overall in 2014: Odell Beckham Jr.
Original Pick: OT Greg Robinson
The Rams suffered through three quarterbacks this season – Austin Davis, Shaun Hill and Sam Bradford. Bradford was injured before the season. The Rams shouldn't have focused on a guy to protect the QB this high. They should have gone for someone that could have given him some options downfield. Despite some troubles surrounding this year’s playoffs, Beckham is one of the best receivers in the league and is beloved by his team.
Instead, the Rams grabbed a guy that showed up overweight to practice and wasn't good enough to maintain a consistent spot on the field. Whereas OBJ has become a household name and maintains his reputation as a No. 1 receiver. Odell Beckham Jr. has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons and was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2014. No doubt, he was one of the top two guys in this draft class.
4 First Overall in 2015: Marcus Mariota
Original Pick: QB Jameis Winston
Jameis Winston has been better, slightly better, since joining the league. Though a lot of that is largely helped by his surrounding cast. He's got one of the league’s best No. 1 receivers and a veteran running back in the backfield. The guy who was drafted by Tennessee has much less, but is still keeping up. Plug Marcus Mariota into Tampa Bay's offense and you've got a playoff-ready team. Plug Winston into Tennessee and you've got a troubled college star that keeps on the path of his own destruction.
Tampa Bay was a good fit for Winston but Winston was not the best fit for Tampa Bay. Even though Mariota is recovering from an injury this offseason, he’ll be on the rise in the years coming. He’s been able to show an ability for scoring often on an otherwise boring Tennessee offense. If he were paired with the star power in Tampa Bay, we’d be seeing a much different Mariota.
3 Second Overall in 2015: David Johnson
Original Pick: QB Marcus Mariota
He's the unquestioned best running back in the league right now. He's putting up numbers unlike any other RB, and he's doing it in Arizona. Tennessee should have avoided grabbing a QB and plugged in a running back that has the ability to transform an offense. Not many backs can do that, but David Johnson has proved to be elite. And that's exactly what a team needs to draft this high in the first round.
In Johnson’s first season, there wasn’t much to brag about. Though, he was still productive enough to maintain a position on the roster. In 2016, Johnson showed he could catch out of the backfield and run through any opponent. He totaled more than 2,000 total yards with 20 touchdowns (16 rushing touchdowns).
2 First Overall in 2016: Dak Prescott
Original Pick: QB Jared Goff
They needed a quarterback so why not grab the best one in the draft. Sure, it's early in Dak Prescott's career and he may not be as good as it seems. But a playoff run with a rookie running back is rare. Pair that rookie quarterback with a rookie running back and a playoff run is unheard of. It's something that would have made league analysts laugh at the start of the season.
Prescott, though, has been through an entire regular season and has seen more success than most quarterbacks see in an entire career. The Cowboys got lucky finding this talent so far back in the draft. If we’re rewinding the clocks, Prescott clearly gets drafted in the top spot of the 2016 NFL Draft.
1 Second Overall in 2016: Ezekiel Elliott
Original Pick: QB Carson Wentz
At this point, the two rookies any team should want to go back and get are the two guys playing on the Cowboys. They did it right this year. They went from drafting fourth overall to one of the best teams in the league. Even if they don't win a playoff game, the season is still a major success. Although the Eagles get just part of the equation, it's still very much worth it.
Ezekiel Elliott would join a team that loves using a three-man rotation in its backfield, but would quickly win over a majority of the snaps. Before long, the Eagles running game would be dominated by the Ohio State star. And without a doubt, Elliott quickly moves into consideration as Philly’s new spotlight start.
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