Revisiting the 2006 NFL draft

Here’s what I think is a fascinating Insider postInsider by Mel Kiper. He revisits the 2006 NFL draft and does it over again from scratch.

Obviously, Kiper’s got the benefit of hindsight. But it’s kind of fun to look back now and see how things could have been different for the NFC South teams.

Remember, the Saints had the No. 2 overall pick that year and the Houston Texans had the No. 1 choice. There was a lot of debate on if the Texans would take Mario Williams or Reggie Bush.

In the end, Houston went with Williams and the Saints took Bush. Williams and Bush each had their moments, but neither has quite lived up to his draft status. Bush was traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2011.

As Kiper does the 2006 draft all over, he no longer has the Saints drafting Bush. He has them taking center Nick Mangold. Imagine that? Mangold is widely considered the best center in the league. The Saints could have the best center in the league surrounded by Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks, who are considered the best guards in the league.

But it wouldn’t have worked out that way in Kiper’s scenario. Remember, the Saints had one of the all-time great drafts in 2006. They added Evans, receiver Marques Colston and safety Roman Harper in later rounds.

In Kiper’s new draft, Evans, Colston and Harper don’t make it out of the first round and they land with other teams.

The Carolina Panthers had the No. 27 pick that year and they used it on running back DeAngelo Williams. In Kiper’s new draft, Williams would have been off the board long before Carolina drafted. Instead, Kiper has the Panthers selecting Antoine Bethea, who has turned into a very solid cornerback.

In 2006, the Buccaneers drafted guard Davin Joseph at No. 23. He’s turned out to be a solid player and is at the Pro Bowl right now. But, in Kiper’s new draft, Joseph is scooped up several spots before the Bucs can take him. Instead, Kiper gives Tampa Bay Kamerion Wimbley. Hey, at least with Wimbley, the Bucs would have had a pass rush in recent years.

The Atlanta Falcons didn’t have a first-round pick in 2006. They traded it to the New York Jets for defensive end John Abraham, who has had a very productive run in Atlanta. But the Jets turned that pick into tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Had the Falcons landed Ferguson in 2006, they never would have drafted Sam Baker in 2008.