There's perhaps no greater practice of NFL fans then going back in time and seeing where players should have been taken in their respective draft years. The draft provides hope to 32 teams every year that they'll find that difference maker that brings them a Lombardi Trophy. However there's a reason why certain teams always seem to find themselves picking high. The Jaguars, Browns and Buccaneers have all seemed to pick in the top 10 for the past decade (although the Bucs seem to be turning the corner). That's because these teams simply keep getting it wrong, while the league's better organizations pick the right player and quickly get out of the hole.
Superstars were found in the last five NFL Drafts but they didn't all come in the top-three, as most expected. When you have a top-three pick, there's a good chance you're going to find the next face of your franchise, but not all these teams accomplished that. In this re-draft, we will find the right pick for any team who held the top three picks between the 2012 and 2016 drafts. We'll be looking at who got it right, who got it wrong, and which player we would slot in for that respective year.
Here we go; let's re-draft the top three picks of the last five NFL Drafts.
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15 2012: 1st - Andrew Luck - Indianapolis Colts
Original Pick: Andrew Luck
Even though the Colts have struggled the last two seasons and Andrew Luck has struggled in staying consistent, I still say they made the right pick here. The problem for the Colts isn't their quarterback; it's the supporting cast. The Colts have failed to surround Luck with the necessary talent these past few seasons and it seems owner Jim Irsay realized that, as he just fired GM Ryan Grigson.
When a team's biggest free agent signings are an aging Andre Johnson and an aging Frank Gore, that's not a good sign. The Colts have also failed to draft an elite defensive player in recent drafts. Despite all the Colts' shortcomings, Luck has led the team to three division titles and an AFC Championship appearance. Luck has already thrown 132 touchdowns, is close to 20,000 passing yards and he's also added 14 rushing touchdowns.
14 2012: 2nd - Russell Wilson - Washington Redskins
Original Pick: Robert Griffin III
Russell Wilson supplants RG3 here which is a huge jump, considering Wilson was a third round pick. Unlike Luck, Wilson has had a strong supporting cast in Seattle, as their two Super Bowl appearances were on the backs of a strong running game and an elite defense. Wilson deserves some credit though, as he's dealt with a subpar offensive line in the passing game. Wilson's perhaps the most elusive QB to bring down and he finds ways to extend plays.
The main problem with RG3 is he's had trouble staying healthy, while Wilson is smart of when to go down and when to go for extra yards. While Wilson's been dinged up at times, he's rarely missed any snaps. The Redskins traded up for the wrong QB in 2012.
13 2012: 3rd - Luke Kuechly - Cleveland Browns
Original Pick: Trent Richardson
We could have replaced Trent Richardson with pretty much anybody and it would have been a better pick. Running backs are rarely drafted high and it's careers like Richardson's that have scared teams from doing that. The Browns could have instead found their defensive leader by taking Luke Kuechly, who slipped to the Panthers at no.9.
Kuechly was just about the most fundamentally sound player in the 2012 draft, but the knock on him was that it seemed he didn't excel at one thing in particular. Well it turns out Kuechly doesn't excel at one thing... he excels at multiple things. Kuechly is the best tackler in the NFL, he flies to the ball, and he's even proven to be capable at picking off passes and returning them for touchdowns.
He's made four Pro Bowls, has won Defensive Player of the Year and has 693 career tackles.
12 2013: 1st - DeAndre Hopkins - Kansas City Chiefs
Original Pick: Eric Fisher
The 2013 draft was very unspectacular, as it produced many solid players, but very few stars. DeAndre Hopkins was one of the few studs of this draft and he rightfully goes no.1 here to the Kansas City Chiefs. While Eric Fisher has seemingly recovered after struggling, he's not an elite tackle in the NFL, whereas Hopkins is an elite receiver. Don't let Hopkins' dip in numbers this past season fool you. If he had someone other than Brock Osweiler or Tom Savage throwing him the ball, he'd have been near the top of the league again.
He's not that far removed from his 1,521 yard receiving season where he also scored 11 touchdowns on 111 receptions. If the Texans could ever get their QB situation solved, Hopkins could leap back to the top of the NFL in receiving yards.
11 2013: 2nd - Le'Veon Bell - Jacksonville Jaguars
Original Pick: Luke Joeckel
It's very easy to be a prisoner of the moment and ask why Le'Veon Bell isn't the new first overall pick here. Well, first of all, while Bell just enjoyed a career season and set rushing records in the playoffs, and put up over 1,200 yards in just 12 games, Bell has missed some significant playing time in his career due to suspensions and/or injuries.
Second overall is still a good jump for Bell, who was a second round pick in 2013. The Jaguars have yet to find a solution at running back, as their starter is Chris Ivory. Having Bell in their backfield could have made the Jags a much more relevant team and would have made life a lot easier for Blake Bortles (once he joined the team in 2014).
10 2013: 3rd - Travis Kelce - Miami Dolphins
Original Pick: Dion Jordan
Dion Jordan stands as the biggest bust of the 2013 class. The Dolphins traded up to no.3 to get Jordan, but the former Oregon Duck hasn't played a snap since 2014 due to suspensions and a non-football related injury.
Normally tight ends wouldn't go this high, but 2013 was a thin class and Travis Kelce has emerged as the NFL's best tight end in the absence of Rob Gronkowski. Kelce is a game breaker for Kansas City and the Dolphins have lacked a true difference maker at tight end. In a division with the Patriots, Kelce would have been the Fins' perfect answer for Gronk and would have given Ryan Tannehill a safety net in the passing game. What a wasted pick this was for Miami.
9 2014: 1st - Derek Carr - Houston Texans
Original Pick: Jadeveon Clowney
Whether it was the fact that they simply viewed Clowney as the draft's best player or that they missed badly on David Carr, the Texans passed on his brother Derek in 2014. The team was and still is in need of a quarterback, but they went for the sure thing in Clowney. While Clowney just had an amazing 2016 season, the Texans still found themselves squeaking into the playoffs due to subpar quarterback play.
Carr was having an MVP caliber season and could have led to the Raiders to an AFC West title had he not broken his leg in Week 16. The Texans' defense is one of the best in the NFL and they have some good pieces on offense. Adding Carr would have been the finishing touch.
8 2014: 2nd - Khalil Mack - Los Angeles Rams
Original Pick: Greg Robinson
While the Rams already had their share of great defensive players, one more never hurts right? Greg Robinson was in the doghouse last season in L.A. and found himself on the inactive list several times due to a coach's decision. While Aaron Donald is also worthy of a higher spot than his original slot at 13th, Mack has been a force in the NFL for the past three seasons. He's already one of the game's best pass rushers. The Raiders don't have the total package on defense, but Mack gives opposing offenses nightmares every game and he masks the Raiders' other weaknesses. Placing Mack with the Rams' defense is a scary thought.
Mack probably doesn't mind that he slipped down to Oakland at fifth overall.
7 2014: 3rd - Jadeveon Clowney - Jacksonville Jaguars
Original Pick: Blake Bortles
Boy, did the narrative on Clowney change this season. After two injury riddled seasons to start his career, many were already labeling Clowney as a huge draft bust, but with J.J. Watt going down early in the season to a back injury, Clowney stepped into a bigger role on the Houston defense and they didn't skip a beat. They were the no.1 ranked defense in the league and carried the Texans to the AFC South title.
Veteran Vince Wilfork went so far as to say that Clowney is the team's best defensive player, even when Watt is on the field. That sure is high praise from a future hall of famer. While Clowney didn't put up the stats Watt normally does, he was a disruptive force and drew a lot of double blocks allowing other teammates to shine. The bust label has been shed.
6 2015: 1st - Jameis Winston - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Original Pick: Jameis Winston
Going into the 2015 draft, the big question was whether Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota should be the first overall pick. So far, there hasn't been enough of a gap to change what went down, so we'll stick with Winston in the top spot. In two seasons, Winston has breathed new life into the Buccaneers, who made a serious run at the playoffs this past season before late-season losses to the Cowboys and Saints knocked them out of contention.
Winston has thrown for over 4,000 yards in each of his first two seasons and was named the 2015 Rookie of the Year. It seems to only be a matter of time before he ends the Buccaneers' nine-year playoff drought, and that could come as soon as next season.
5 2015: 2nd - Marcus Mariota - Tennessee Titans
Original Pick: Marcus Mariota
It seemed nobody knew what the Titans would do with the second overall pick in the 2015 draft. Many felt the team would stick with Zach Mettenberger and trade their pick down. Fortunately, the team decided to stand pat and take the Oregon phenom and Heisman Trophy winner. So far, the move has paid off, as Mariota showed tremendous improvement in his sophomore season. He was the most efficient quarterback in the redzone and had the Titans within one game of winning the AFC South.
The Titans still don't have a true no.1 wideout for Mariota, but they have an improving defense and a strong running game, which will help Mariota take the net step in year three.
Looking back nearly two years later, the Bucs and Titans both did well with their picks at quarterback.
4 2015: 3rd - Vic Beasley - Jacksonville Jaguars
Original Pick: Dante Fowler Jr.
The Jaguars can't say they're fully satisfied with how their 2015 draft pick has worked out, but that's mostly because Fowler missed his rookie season with a torn ACL. Fowler made his return this year and chipped in four sacks and 32 tackles, but the Jags' defense was a huge disappointment and ended up costing Gus Bradley his job.
While Amari Cooper would also be a good choice here, the Jags seem to have their receiving corps set with Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson. What they don't have is a stud pass rusher and Vic Beasley has been that for Atlanta. The Atlanta defense is being built under the same principles of Dan Quinn's defense from his Seattle days and you have to believe Beasley would have worked well under another former Seattle DC in Gus Bradley.
Beasley broke through in 2016, notching 15.5 sacks and forcing six fumbles. He was an All-Pro and is exactly the kind of player the Jags are still looking for.
3 2016: 1st - Dak Prescott - Los Angeles Rams
Original Pick: Jared Goff
Dak Prescott has emerged as the steal of the 2016 draft and he's only played one season. Prescott was meant to be the eventual replacement for Tony Romo, but a back injury to Romo thrust Prescott into the starting role and he never looked back. By the time Romo had recovered, Prescott had the Cowboys off to a 9-1 start, and the 'Boys decided to stick with him under center.
Prescott formed an amazing rookie duo in the Cowboys' backfield with Ezekiel Elliott and led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and NFC East title. While Prescott lost his playoff game to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, the future looks very bright for Dallas.
Considering that Jared Goff couldn't beat out Case Keenum and Sean Mannion on the depth chart to start the season, you have to think Prescott would have been a starter from day one in Los Angeles.
2 2016: 2nd - Carson Wentz - Philadelphia Eagles
Original Pick: Carson Wentz
While an argument can be made for Ezekiel Elliott here, considering what the Eagles saw him do to their division, drafting a franchise QB is a must when you need one and Wentz showed enough positive signs in 2016 to keep him in this spot.
The Eagles are still a work in progress, but Wentz had a solid rookie season, throwing for 3,782 yards and 16 touchdowns, while completing 62.4% of his passes. While he'll want to reduce his 14 interceptions for next year, it's normal for a rookie QB to turn the ball over. The Eagles don't have the running game or offensive line that Dallas has (or a Dez Bryant at wide receiver) so it's a little unfair to comparee Wentz to Prescott at this point.
If the Eagles build around Wentz, he should show significant improvement in 2017.
1 2016: 3rd - Joey Bosa - San Diego (L.A) Chargers
Original Pick: Joey Bosa
The only thing keeping Elliott out of this spot is the fact that the Chargers drafted Melvin Gordon in the first round in 2015 and in no world would they go running back two years in a row. Plus, Gordon made some huge improvements to his game in 2016.
Joey Bosa was the right pick for the Chargers, who have lacked an elite pass rusher for quite some time. It took time for Bosa to join the team, as he was the last rookie to sign with his team (does that really surprise you with the Chargers?).
After missing the first four weeks of the season with a hamstring injury, Bosa still finished his rookie season with 10.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Bosa should be the focal point of the Chargers' defense for years to come.
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