Anyone who says they have no regrets is lying to your face. If the GM of your favorite NFL team says that, he's also lying. Everybody wants a mulligan now and again (Matt Millen could've used about five dozen), and today, we're hopping in our DeLorean, Back to the Future style, and re-picking the '99, '04, '06, and '09 NFL drafts based on what we know now about the performances of the players in those drafts.
With a wave of our hand the Tim Couch Era in Cleveland is over (you're welcome, Dawg Pound), Percy Harvin's migraines are miraculously cured by a change of scenery, and the Rams have a cornerstone linebacker to go with Sam Bradford (along the way the Cardinals win a Super Bowl, the Saints win two, and Al Davis...well, Al Davis is still crazy). Forget the mock drafts, forget the fantasy drafts, this is a fantasy mock draft (with time travel, prognostications, and a chainsaw-wielding Brandon Marshall thrown in for good measure)...
By Aaron Stern, 6Magazine
Click "Next" for the 1999 Re-Draft
1. Cleveland Browns: QB Donovan McNabb (actual pick: Browns, Tim Couch). The Browns suck. They’ve sucked for a long, long time. The Browns take McNabb, and in a city desperate for someone who is both talented and nice, McNabb is a hit. Sure, the team assembled around him isn’t much good for his entire career, but McNabb is good enough alone that the Browns finish 8-8 a bunch of years, and make the playoffs in consecutive seasons in '04 and '05. And Donovan never even once considers playing for the Dolphins.
2. Philadelphia Eagles: RB Ricky Williams (actual pick: Eagles, McNabb). Even though they get the guy they really wanted, Eagles fans boo Williams relentlessly as he walks to the podium to shake Paul Tagliabue’s hand because that’s just what Eagles fans do. Williams is a beast in the NFC East. Buoyed by the support from fans and playing on a team that caters its offense to his smashing, slashing style, Williams goes to the Pro Bowl three times in the next ten years, never once considering retiring to become a vegetarian in India—until the Eagles go through a rough patch, the fans get nasty again, and Ricky heads for the Himalayan hills. Run, Ricky, run!
3. Cincinnati Bengals: QB Daunte Culpepper (actual pick: Bengals, Akili Smith). Even with Culpepper and not the human WTF? that is Akili Smith, the Bengals are a terrible team for the next few seasons. Then comes a dynamic young receiving duo (Ocho and Housh), and the offense gets drastically better. But it takes more than Kimo Von Oelhofen and the dapper Dhani Jones to make a good defense, and the Bungles are never more than Wild Card contenders. Culpepper blows out his knee, puts on 60 pounds and tries a comeback as a 350-pound tight end. It doesn’t go so well. The worst part is that by the time Culpepper is washed up the Bungles have missed out on the chance to draft that Palmer kid out of USC. Drew Carey cries. Or wait, is he a Browns fan? Actually, Drew Carey cries either way. Ohio!
4. Indianapolis Colts: RB Edgerrin James (actual pick: Colts, James).
6. St. Louis Rams: WR Torry Holt (actual pick: Rams, Holt).
7. Chicago Bears: LB Al Wilson (actual pick: Redskins (from Bears), Bailey). There were rumblings that former Bear Mike Ditka would shake things up with the stupidest draft day trade of all time, but then the Eagles swooped in and snared Ditka’s bride-to-be. Bears' brass recognizes a rock-solid bell ringer when they see one—not to mention a draft-day steal. Al Wilson promptly anchors the Bears defense for the next decade, giving them a presence in the Mike spot not seen since the wide-eyed Singletary days (that Urlacher guy gets drafted by somebody else when his time comes). Even with a solid defense, the Bears don’t get back to the big one, though, and Chicago fans continue to be absurdly pessimistic.
8. Arizona Cardinals: WR Donald Driver (actual pick: Cardinals (from Chargers), David Boston). The Alcorn State product puts Rod Tidwell to shame, working his way from obscurity to become the face of the moribund franchise (they show him the money) until that kid from Pittsburgh shows up many years later. Together with Anquan Boldin, Fitzgerald and Driver combine to produce a dominant passing attack that knocks off the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII. Enter Kurt Warner’s wife (no, seriously, she ends up running for governor of Arizona!).
9. Detroit Lions: S Dexter Jackson (actual pick: Lions, Chris Claiborne).
10. Baltimore Ravens: CB Chris McAllister (actual pick: Ravens, McAllister)
12. New Orleans Saints: CB Antoine Winfield (actual pick: Bears (from Saints, via Redskins), Cade McNown). Drafting 12th is so boring. It’s certainly not nearly as fun as trading all of your picks to appear on the cover of ESPN the Magazine. Ditka, being bored, hits the bar and orders a Ditka-brand bloody Mary, Ditka-brand margarita and a Ditka-brand bottle of merlot; it takes him 48 seconds to consume all three through a funnel he keeps in his back pocket for just such occasions. (Strangely, a CT scan the next day will reveal that he lost no brain cells during his severe binge drinking.) With Ditka passed out on his face in the corner, the other guys in the war room call the shots. They pick a solid corner prospect out of Ohio State. Winfield becomes a dominant player for the next decade, sticking it out in New Orleans even after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the disaster of Aaron Brooks, and the drama of Joe Horn. Then Gregg Williams shows up, the two fall madly into football love, and the defense carries the Saints to a Super Bowl win. See? Boring.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Mike Peterson (actual pick: Steelers, Troy Edwards).
14. Kansas City Chiefs: OT John Tait (actual pick: Chiefs, Tait)
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DT Anthony McFarland (actual pick: Buccaneers, McFarland).
17. New England Patriots: C Damien Woody (actual pick: Patriots (from Seahawks), Woody).
18. Oakland Raiders: OT Matt Stinchcomb (actual pick: Raiders, Stinchcomb).
19. New York Giants: OT Jon Jansen (actual pick: Giants, Luke Petitgout).
20. Dallas Cowboys: DE Mike Rucker (actual pick: Cowboys (from Patriots, via Seahawks), Ebenezer Ekuban).
21. Arizona Cardinals: OT L.J. Shelton (actual pick: Cardinals, Shelton).
22. Seattle Seahawks: DE Patrick Kerney (actual pick: Seahawks (from Cowboys), Lamar King).
23. Buffalo Bills: CB Mike McKenzie (actual pick: Bills, Winfield).
24. San Francisco 49ers: LB Joey Porter (actual pick: 49ers (from Dolphins), Reggie McGrew).
25. Green Bay Packers: QB Cade McNown (actual pick: Packers, Antuan Edwards). Nobody can resist the allure of a charismatic, golden-haired quarterback prospect. It’s too much. Owners salivate and marketing departments go into overdrive. But nothing changes here. Overmatched, unmotivated, and buried on the depth chart behind the Methuselah of Mississippi, McNown takes 37 career snaps and makes his millions. But he proves his "worth" (hence his appearance on this list) by showing Brett Favre the popular Nokia cellphone game "snakes" and teaching Brett how to SMS.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars: CB Fernando Bryant (actual pick: Jaguars, Bryant).
27. Detroit Lions: QB Shaun King (actual pick: Lions (from 49ers, via Dolphins), Aaron Gibson). Because as long as you’re not going to be any good, you might as well have a smart, if unspectacular quarterback leading the offense in the meantime. King has the thankless task of starting in Detroit in the waning days of Barry Sanders. It is an experience so trying that he retires after five years, moves to Malaysia and becomes a monk.
28. New England Patriots: DE Aaron Smith (actual pick: Patriots (from Jets), Andy Katzenmoyer). The Patriots think long and hard about drafting Ohio State stud linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer, but when the big guy becomes the first person to score in negative figures on the Wonderlic test, they decide to go a little safer. They instead go with Smith, and the Northern Colorado product anchors the Pats’ D-line for the next decade. Andy Katzenmoyer makes it his job to spot you on the bench when you need it. For real.
29. Minnesota Vikings: FB Jim Kleinsasser (actual pick: Vikings, Dimitrius Underwood). Out of the barren hinterlands of the American prairie, strides the young fullback/H-back. The pride of North Dakota (North Dakota can have pride, too) is clearly the definition of a boring pick and many call it a reach. But drafting your multi-tooled fullback/tight end of the next ten years at the end of the first round is like inheriting your uncle’s 3-year-old Honda Civic that he never drove. Sure, it’s not sexy, but it’s a pretty reliable car. And you got it for cheap!
30. Atlanta Falcons: RB Kevin Faulk (actual pick: Falcons, Patrick Kerney).
31. Denver Broncos: K Martin Grammatica (actual pick: Broncos, Al Wilson).
Click "Next" for the 2004 Re-Draft
1. San Diego Chargers: QB Philip Rivers (actual pick: Chargers, Eli Manning). Though he is sorely tempted to draft Eli Manning against Papa Manning’s wishes just so he can throw him on the bench for two years and scold him like the spoiled brat that he is, GM A.J. Smith drafts Philip Rivers instead for the simple reason that he’s better at throwing a football than the younger Manning ever will be. Rivers sits for a year behind Drew Brees, then steps in to become one of the best quarterbacks of his generation.
2. Oakland Raiders: QB Ben Roethlisberger (actual pick: Raiders, Robert Gallery). Seeing God personified in the cannon-armed, walking refrigerator that is Big Ben, Al Davis actually tries to trade up to the No. 1 spot to get him. A.J. Smith doesn’t return his calls, because it’s probably just better to not ever get sucked into any type of interaction with Al Davis. Roethlisberger is the lone bright spot in the otherwise black hole that is the Raiders franchise—that is until numerous allegations of sexual harassment and assault are levied against him and it’s revealed that he has a nasty addiction to sizzurp. Al Davis tries to sign him to an extension, but Roger Goodell—who has no qualms about punishing players on non-Super Bowl- winning teams—swoops in and bans Roethlisberger for the 2010 season. Al Davis shakes his leprous fist at the heavens.
3. Arizona Cardinals: WR Larry Fitzgerald (actual pick: Cardinals, Fitzgerald).
4. New York Giants: QB Matt Schaub (actual pick: Giants, Rivers). The Giants leap at the opportunity to snare the unheralded, yet highly talented Virginia product. With Schaub at the helm the G-men dominate the NFC East for the next ten years; Giants players love having a quarterback who doesn’t look like he wants to hide his head under his blanket because there’s a monster in his closet every time a defense calls a double-A gap blitz.
5. Washington Redskins: DB Sean Taylor (actual pick: Redskins, Taylor).
6. Cleveland Browns: RB Steven Jackson (actual pick: Browns, Kellen Winslow II).
7. Detroit Lions: DE Jared Allen (actual pick: Lions, Roy Williams). The Mullett Man takes Motor City by storm; unfortunately for him, since this is the only smart thing that Matt Millen ever did in Detroit, there is no help on the horizon and Allen labors in futility and obscurity. Exasperated, he goes into early retirement in 2008 – just before Jim Schwartz brings hope to town. Allen doesn’t care – he started his own Harley club and spends his days cruising American highways looking for trouble. The Lions continue to be doomed.
8. Atlanta Falcons: CB Dunta Robinson (actual pick: Falcons, DeAngelo Hall).
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: LB Jonathan Vilma (actual pick: Jaguars, Reggie Williams).
10. Houston Texans: WR Lee Evans (actual pick: Texans, Dunta Robinson).
11. Pittsburgh Steelers: DT Tommie Harris (actual pick: Steelers, Roethlisberger). Because they love badass defensive monsters, the Steelers simply can’t resist taking Harris, even if he isn’t a perfect fit for their 3-4. He ends up settling in at defensive end in the Pittsburgh defense and is a stalwart for the next five years before his Faberge-fragile body simply can’t stand it anymore and he retires…with two Super Bowl rings in his safe deposit box.
12. New York Jets: LB D.J. Williams (actual pick: Jets, Vilma).
13. Buffalo Bills: TE Kellen Winslow II (actual pick: Bills, Lee Evans).
14. Chicago Bears: TE Ben Watson (actual pick: Bears, Tommie Harris).
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB DeAngelo Hall (actual pick: Buccaneers, Michael Clayton). The Bucs take the flashy, explosive Hall, and it pays off—initially. Though Hall is actually terrible at covering wide receivers one-on-one, the zone-style Tampa-2 defense is perfect for him, allowing him to move in space and ballhawk quarterback miscues. He makes three Pro Bowls in his first five years before signing a huge free agent contract with the highest bidder whose style of defense does not at all suit his limited skill set. AKA: by 2010 Hall is playing in our nation’s capital and getting selected to perhaps the most undeserved Pro Bowl spot of all time. Fantasy reconvenes with reality.
16. Philadelphia Eagles: OT Shawn Andrews (actual pick: Eagels, Andrews).
17. Denver Broncos: LB Karlos Dansby (actual pick: Broncos, D.J. Williams).
18. New Orleans Saints: DE Will Smith (actual pick: Saints, Smith).
19. Miami Dolphins: OT Chris Snee (actual pick: Dolphins, Vernon Carey).
20. Minnesota Vikings: DT Igor Olshansky (actual pick: Vikings, Kenechi Udeze). What would make a defensive line built around the Williams Wall even more formidable? Adding the mammoth athletic pride of the Jewish-American diaspora. The Thor Threesome – as they become known – form a new 3-4 defense in Minnesota that sets absurd records for the fewest number of rushing yards allowed. His career ends soon after when he tears his rotator cuff at a charity event when the three defensive lineman collectively bench press an airplane.
21. New England Patriots: DT Vince Wilfork (actual pick: Patriots, Wilfork).
22. Buffalo Bills: SS Bob Sanders (actual pick: Bills, J.P. Losman).
23. Seattle Seahawks: DT Darnell Dockett (actual pick: Seahawks, Marcus Tubbs).
24. St. Louis Rams: RB Kevin Jones (actual pick: Rams, Steven Jackson).
25. Green Bay Packers: S Madieu Williams (actual pick: Packers, Ahmad Carroll).
26. Cincinnati Bengals: RB Michael Turner (actual pick: Bengals, Chris Perry). They think long and hard about drafting Michigan running back Chris Perry in this spot, even though Perry has seen more action and been more banged up in his four years of college than, well, never mind. Suffice it to say that at the last second an unseasonal wind of reason blows through the Bengals’ front office and they pick the furious runner from Northern Illinois instead of the broken down bruiser from up in Michigan. Carson Palmer goes to work with a bona fide back to pair with Chad Not-Yet-Ochocinco and T.J. Howshamazilly; the rest of the AFC craps its pants. The Bengals butt heads with the Steelers deep in the playoffs every year for the rest of the decade, and in Palmer’s heyday he has what every good quarterback needs: A franchise back to pound the ball down the field in January. Cincinnati is a feared football team. Try to imagine that.
27. Houston Texans: DE Jason Babin (actual pick: Texans, Babin).
28. Carolina Panthers: CB Chris Gamble (actual pick: Panthers, Gamble).
29. Atlanta Falcons: WR Michael Jenkins (actual pick: Falcons, Jenkins).
30. Detroit Lions: WR Devery Henderson (actual pick: Lions, Kevin Jones).
31. San Francisco 49ers: QB Eli Manning (actual pick: 49ers, Rashaun Woods). Because some quarterback is better than no quarterback, the Niners pull the trigger on Peyton’s little bro. Manning sits his rookie year, then steps in and does well enough to be mentioned in the same game-managerial compliments as Trent Dilfer (although he does perform San Francisco an immense service by preventing them from trying the Alex Smith Experiment). He finishes his career below .500 as a starter, getting into full-on Patrick Ramsey mode as a journeyman backup for a couple of years before finally calling it quits in 2012 – in an ironic twist of fate – when he loses out on the third-string job backing up Philip Rivers. He has to sit at the kids table at Manning family Thanksgivings.
32. New England Patriots: TE Chris Cooley (actual pick: Patriots, Ben Watson). Sure, they missed out on Ben Watson (remember, he went at 12 to the Bears), but the Patriots get the TE/H-back they wanted all along in the former Utah State Aggie. Cooley is a jack-of-all trades for Bill Belichick’s wizardry, collecting passes, laying out lead blocks, and even carrying the ball now and then. Of course, Cooley’s off-field antics don’t sit well. Bill Belichick does not blog, nor does he condone blogging. And he does not think it’s funny when his players snap photos of the playbook, post them online, then realize that they’ve actually just showed the world their dick. In so many ways, that violates everything Bill Belichick is about. Though Cooley is a valuable part of the offense, Belichick eventually trades him away in one of his myriad draft-day deals. Cooley writes a book about Belichick’s systematic cheating ways. Roger Goodell investigates, but before he can call Cooley in to testify, Cooley goes out to buy ice cream in the middle of the night and nobody ever sees him again. Weird.
Click "Next" for the 2006 Re-Draft
1. Houston Texans: RB Reggie Bush (actual pick: Texans, Mario Williams). Making the move that everyone expects him to, GM Charlie Casserly takes the most explosive player in the draft in hopes of turning around the downward trajectory of the young Texans franchise. He puts together a couple of strong 1,000-yard seasons, leading the Texans to their first playoff appearance in 2009, but he finds his true passion in music. After five years in the NFL retires to focus on his new career as a lead dancer in R&B videos and is known to most Americans as an instructor on Dancing with the Stars.
2. New Orleans Saints: DE Mario Williams (actual pick: Saints, Bush). The Saints miss the guy they really wanted and instead get a rock for their defense. Drew Brees is still deadly even without his ultimate dream outlet receiver in Bush and the defense instantly gets better with Williams on the D-line. New Orleans wins two Super Bowls before the decade is over. No drama here – just the way it could have been.
3. Tennessee Titans: QB Jay Cutler (actual pick: Titans, Vince Young). The Titans pluck Vanderbilt QB Cutler out of their backyard and install him as their leading signal caller. Cutler butts heads immediately with iron-fisted coach Jeff Fisher, who ultimately benches Cutler at the midway point of the season. In ’08 he starts to come around and realize that he isn’t the best player ever to hold an inflated pigskin. He couples with ’08 draftee Chris Johnson to form an offensive nucleus that cements the Titans as an AFC powerhouse for the next decade, and in 2010 Jeff Fisher is rewarded with a hefty and lengthy contract extension. Fisher is hailed as a heretofore overlooked football genius; he grows his moustache out, waxes the tips into handlebars and regularly twirls the ends during games. Just for the hell of it, he also starts wearing a monacle and smoking gigantic cigars on the sidelines.
5. Green Bay Packers: OT D’Brickashaw Ferguson (actual pick: Packers, A.J. Hawk).
6. San Francisco 49ers: WR Greg Jennings (actual pick: 49ers, Vernon Davis).
7. Oakland Raiders: RB LenDale White (actual pick: Raiders, Micahel Huff). Al Davis loves himself some big names, and with big name cache, marginal skills, and a questionable work ethic, LenDale is the perfect Al Davis pick. Within two years LenDale has ballooned to 350 pounds. Davis converts him first to tight end, then to defensive tackle, insisting this was his plan all along. After just three years, White retires and becomes a character actor who plays obese criminals; his main competition is that Samoan guy from The Italian Job.
8. Buffalo Bills: CB Antonio Cromartie (actual pick: Bills, Donte Whitner). The oft-siring cornerback finds that even in Buffalo, New York, there are plenty of one-night-stands-turned-18-year-financial-obligations to be had. He’s also pretty good, and the Bills secondary is suddenly a little respectable. The rest of the team isn’t though, and Cromartie and Lee Evans spend many a night cruising the empty highways of Buffalo dreaming of better, warmer days. Then Lee Evans goes home, and Antonio Cromartie hits the clubs with Marshawn Lynch and makes bad, bad decisions.
9. Detroit Lions: C Nick Mangold (actual pick: Lions, Ernie Sims). Far from the prettiest pick of the draft, but it may be the smartest. Mangold instantly steps in to cement a shaky Lions O-line and provide a marginal increase in security for Jon Kitna. Of course, with perhaps the least talented roster in the NFL, the Lions are still one of the worst teams in the league in 2006. Mangold hits free agency after the 2010 season – just in time for the lockout. The guy can’t catch a break. He retires from football to become his sister’s weightlifting coach.
10. Arizona Cardinals: RB Deangelo Williams (actual pick: Cardinals, Matt Leinart). Though they are tempted to pick USC pretty boy Matt Leinart as the heir to Kurt Warner, the Cardinals shrewdly go with need over glamour. With a bona fide ball carrier and two potent wideouts, the Cardinals pound the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII. Yes, that’s right, the Cardinals win a Super Bowl. Kurt Warner’s wife makes as many TV appearances as possible, desperate to make everyone forget about the silver drill sergeant haircut we all know her for. It doesn’t work – we will never forget.
11. Denver Broncos: RB Maurice Jones-Drew (actual pick: Broncos, Cutler). In a shining moment of clarity, Mike Shannahan realizes that running backs aren’t good simply because he lays his index finger upon their shoulder and makes them so. While watching pre-draft game tape of a relatively obscure bowling ball with shifty feet out of UCLA, Shanny bares his blindingly white teeth in a tortured grimace that only his wife recognizes as a smile and writes down the name Maurice Jones-Drew in bold, capital letters. The Broncos are ridiculed for the pick, which is seen as the biggest reach of the draft. Jones-Drew turns in back-to-back-to-back 1,500 yard seasons in Shanny’s zone-blocking offense. A reinvigorated Jake Plummer puts off his handball-centric retirement and has the best seasons of his career in his late 30s as the Broncos become perennial Super Bowl contenders.
12. Baltimore Ravens: DT Haloti Ngata (actual pick: Ravens, Ngata).
13. Cleveland Browns: WR Brandon Marshall (actual pick: Browns, Kamerion Wimbley). Seen as the second-biggest reach of the draft, the Browns stun everyone when they take the physically impressive but extremely raw Marshall out of UCF. He teams with Braylon Edwards to form one of the most dangerous (if maddeningly inconsistent) receiving tandems in football. The city of Cleveland rejoices in its newfound pride for the Browns. Bolstered by its successful football team, the local economy takes off and Cleveland begins to transform itself from the urban armpit of the Midwest into a vital, vibrant city. People no longer laugh when their friends say they're from Cleveland. Marshall buys Lebron James’ old uber-mansion and in the middle of a raucous party he chainsaws Brady Quinn’s car in half; team chemistry is destroyed, the Browns fall apart, the city follows suit, and Cleveland is once again Cleveland.
14. Philadelphia Eagles: DE Kamerion Wimbley (actual pick: Eagles, Brodrick Bunkley).
15. St. Louis Rams: CB Johnathan Joseph (actual pick: Rams, Tye Hill).
16. Miami Dolphins: S Roman Harper (actual pick: Dolphins, Jason Allen).
17. Minnesota Vikings: DE Mathias Kiwaunuka (actual pick: Vikings, Chad Greenway).
18. Dallas Cowboys: LB DeMeco Ryans (actual pick: Cowboys, Bobby Carpenter).
19. San Diego Chargers: WR Santonio Holmes (actual pick: Chargers, Cromartie).
20. Kansas City Chiefs: DE Tamba Hali (actual pick: Chiefs, Hali).
21. New England Patriots: KR/WR/CB Devin Hester (actual pick: Laurence Maroney). Bill Belichick laughs all the way to the bank, because he knew all along that Hester wasn’t a cornerback or a wide receiver. He maximizes Hester’s athleticism from the outset, playing him on both sides of the ball and, of course, on special teams. He goes to the Hall of Fame. Emboldened by yet another signifier of his sheer genius, Belichick sheds the homeless-style cutoff sweatshirts and ups the ante. He dresses for games as a hobo, complete with a bag tied to the end of a stick and a switchblade that he pulls from his ragged corduroys and wields menacingly at refs who dare make a call he disagrees with. Nobody says a word about it to him.
22. San Francisco 49ers: LB Thomas Howard (actual pick: 49ers, Manny Lawson).
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT Marcus McNeil (actual pick: Davin Joseph).
24. Cincinnati Bengals: LB D’Qwell Jackson (actual pick: Bengals, Johnathan Joseph).
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Manny Lawson (actual pick: Steelers, Holmes).
26. Buffalo Bills: WR Miles Austin (actual pick: Bills, John McCargo).
27. Carolina Panthers: RB Leon Washington (actual pick: Panthers, Deangelo Williams).
28. Jacksonville Jaguars: TE Owen Daniels (actual pick: Jaguars, Marcedes Lewis).
29. New York Jets: TE Marcedes Lewis (actual pick: Jets, Mangold).
30. Indianapolis Colts: Lawrence Maroney (actual pick: Colts, Joseph Addai).
31. Seattle Seahawks: S Bernard Pollard (actual pick: Seahawks, Kelly Jackson).
32. New York Giants: LB Ernie Sims (actual pick: Giants, Kiwanuka).
Click "Next" for the 2009 Re-Draft
2. Oakland Raiders: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (actual pick: Rams, Jason Smith). Al Davis never met a guy who could run fast that he didn’t want to pay millions of dollars. So, instead of waiting for Darrius Heyward-Bey to fall to them at No. 7, the Raiders trade up with the Rams to take him at No. 2. Of course, Heyward-Bey doesn’t do anything in his first two years in the league except run fast during practice and drop balls in games. This prompts massive criticism from the local media and a string of bizarre press conferences in which Al Davis accuses the Bay Area media of being in a massive conspiracy to bring down the Raider Nation while simultaneously – accidentally, apparently – going public with his advanced leprosy. So actually, things are pretty much the same as in real life.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: OLB Brian Orakpo (actual pick: Chiefs, Tyson Jackson). Searching for a prototypical 3-4 outside linebacker, the Chiefs take the hyper-athletic Orakpo at No. 3. He’s a star. The move is hailed by the media; SI puts Scott Pioli on the cover under the headline: “The Real Genius Behind the Patriots Dynasty.” Bill Belichick adds Pioli to his list of former co-workers to kill, right behind ManGenius and just ahead of that former intern who once had the gall to add plain sugar to Belichick’s coffee. For the 80th time: BILL BELICHICK LIKES SPLENDA.
4. Seattle Seahawks: QB Josh Freeman (actual pick: Seahawks, Aaron Curry). Realizing that Matt Hasselbeck’s play has finally caught up with his hairline (that is, receding into the horizon), Hawks’ coach Jim Mora drafts Freeman as the QB of the future. Freeman steps into the starting lineup of an overhauled offense in ’10 and thrives. Freeman digs the grungy vibe of the Northwest so much that he gets a killer tattoo of flowers and vines on his arm and starts an electric blues-rock band called Broken Cat. After just four seasons in the league, Freeman retires from football to focus on his music. Broken Cat breaks up three months later.
5. New York Jets: LB Brian Cushing (actual pick: Jets, Mark Sanchez). The USC stud (linebacker) plays sparingly in 2009. In the 2010 season he balls out, capping it off with a three sack performance against the Steelers in the 2010 AFC Championship, propelling the Jets to Super Bowl XLIV, where they fall to the Saints and the lethal combination of Drew Brees and his favorite new young target (stay tuned). But under Rex Ryan’s do-whatever-you-feel leadership, Cushing is busted during the 2010 offseason for his second PED infraction and is suspended for the 2011 season. Rex Ryan addresses the media but is so furious – nobody can quite tell at what – that he manages just six intelligible words during his half-hour rant. One of those words is "feet."
6. Cincinnati Bengals: WR Michael Crabtree (actual pick: Bengals, Andre Smith). The good side of this move is that Bengals owner Mike Brown has a moment of clarity in which he senses that Chad Ochocinco can sustain neither the Bengals aerial attack nor his own mental stability much longer. Crabtree instantly clashes with Ochocinco, Carson Palmer, and Marvin Lewis while producing virtually nothing in his holdout-shortened rookie campaign. Lewis resigns after the ’09 season, going into full Jimmy Johnson retirement mode (Extenze commecials and all) by moving to a houseboat down in the Florida Keys and pounding mai tai after margarita after mind eraser to dull the pain left from a frigid, wasted half decade in Ohio.
7. St. Louis Rams: LB Clay Matthews (actual pick: Raiders, Heyward-Bey).
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: DT B.J. Raji (actual pick: Jaguars, Eugene Monroe).
9. Green Bay Packers: RB Lasean McCoy (actual pick: Packers, Raji).
11. Buffalo Bills: WR Jeremy Maclin (actual pick: Bills, Aaron Maybin).
12. Denver Broncos: WR Hakeem Nicks (actual pick: Broncos, Moreno).
13. Washington Redskins: C Alex Mack (actual pick: Redskins, Orakpo). Realizing that they need to focus on upgrading a woefully thin offensive line, the Redskins make an atypically unexciting move by taking possibly the best interior lineman in the draft. Of course, in the Jim Zorn anti-offense it doesn’t matter who is playing what position and the 'Skins finish ’09 at the bottom of the NFC East (it's gonna take a much bigger break in the space-time continuum for that to change). Pissed that he didn’t get to have his Super Fun Draft Time, two years later Redskins owner Daniel Snyder swaps all of his picks to the Carolina Panthers so he can draft Cam Newton.
14. New Orleans Saints: WR/KR Percy Harvin (actual pick: Saints, Malcolm Jenkins). Sean Payton loves hybrid offensive guys, and he finds his favorite new toy in Florida’s Percy Harvin. The warm, sticky air of the Crescent City is a panacea for the youngster’s migraines, and he teams up with Drew Brees to make the formidable Saints offense even more potent. The Saints win back-to-back Super Bowls. Without Harvin by his side in Minnesota, Brett Favre’s first and only season in Minneapolis becomes so dark that inappropriately texting team employees is just the start. Favre starts partying at Prince’s purple-themed mansion, playing weird games of pickup basketball, eating delicious flapjacks, and posing for tastefully depicted nude portraits. His weird depression reignites Prince’s long-dormant creative genius and Prince puts out a platinum album, led by the smash single, "My Fallen Prince."
15. Houston Texans: RB Arian Foster (actual pick: Texans, Cushing). Recognizing talent beyond scouting combine measurables, the Texans get the steal of the draft in the forgotten Tennessee tailback. Foster is a stud from the first time they give him the ball. Fantasy and reality are pretty much the same here – except that Foster gets paid like a top-tier running back, not a punt team gunner living paycheck to paycheck. Either way you cut it, the Texans are still the Texans (not in a good way).
16. San Diego Chargers: LB James Laurinaitis (actual pick: Chargers, Larry English).
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Johnny Knox (actual pick: Buccaneers, Freeman). The Bucs take the speediest wideout in the draft, and the kid is great from the get-go. Unfortunately there’s no one to throw him the ball, so his talents are wasted. But he looks so awesome in those creamsicle throwbacks twice a year that the Bucs reinstall them as the team’s full-time uniforms. Bucs merchandise starts selling like hotcakes, and Tampa becomes a free agent hot spot. Peyton Manning forces a trade to Tampa, where he leads the Bucs to a Super Bowl win in 2013. All because of those creamsicle uniforms.
18. Chicago Bears: OT Michael Oher (actual pick: Broncos, Robert Ayers). Having just missed out on the deep threat wideout they so desperately wanted, the Bears make the smart move to draft Mr. Blind Side himself (and not trade the pick for a diabetic quarterback). Sandra Bullock visits Oher in Chicago, falls in love with the city, and becomes a citizen. She runs for mayor in 2011, battling Rahm Emanuel for the right to rule the Windy City. She loses, but a satirical twitter account called @MayorBullock is a raging internet success, as it skewers Bullock, her acting choices, and her doomed mayoral bid. After the election ends it's revealed that it was Oher himself behind the Twitter account. She burns her season tickets.
19. Philadelphia Eagles: DT Peria Jerry (actual pick: Eagles, Maclin).
20. Detroit Lions: TE Brandon Pettigrew (actual pick: Lions, Pettigrew).
21. Cleveland Browns: CB Vontae Davis (actual pick: Browns, Mack).
22. Minnesota Vikings: WR Kenny Britt (actual pick: Vikings, Harvin).
23. Baltimore Ravens: S Patrick Chung (actual pick: Ravens, Oher).
24. Atlanta Falcons: LB Rey Mauluga (actual pick: Falcons, Jerry).
25. Miami Dolphins: OT Phil Loadholt (actual pick: Dolphins, Vontae Davis).
26. Green Bay Packers: OT Jason Smith (actual pick: Packers, Matthews).
27. Indianapolis Colts: RB Beanie Wells (actual pick: Colts, Donald Brown).
28. Buffalo Bills: C Eric Wood (actual pick: Bills, Wood).
29. New York Giants: WR Brian Robiskie (actual pick: Giants, Nicks).
30. Tennessee Titans: OT Eben Britton (actual pick: Titans, Britt).
31. Arizona Cardinals: S Louis Delmas (actual pick: Cardinals, Wells).
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: WR Mike Wallace (actual pick: Steelers, Ziggy Hood).