Commentary

Re-drafting the 2006 draft class

After six years of NFL play, the debate is no longer Mario Williams or Reggie Bush

Originally Published: January 25, 2012
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider
Jay Cuter, Haloti Ngata, Maurice Jones-DrewGetty ImagesIn 2006, Haloti Ngata was a little-known but productive DT out of Oregon. Also pictured: Jay Cutler (Vanderbilt) and Maurice Jones-Drew (UCLA).

The 2006 NFL draft narrative quickly became centered around the debate of whether Mario Williams or Reggie Bush would become the better player. Had Houston made a big mistake at No. 1? Obviously, you'd probably give the edge at this point to Williams, but it's not by much. But what if we re-drafted the entire first round based on what we know now, after six full years of NFL play? Well, I did. But consider the parameters:

1. This order doesn't just reflect what players have done, but what they still have left.
2. I'm not as concerned with need, or an attempt to re-write history. This is about performance.

Why six? Well, we did 2005 last year, in looking at Aaron Rodgers' rise. So why break the pattern -- it's a good length to give a sense of a class while still allowing at least some projection. Remember, positions are what the player was drafted as, and this follows the actual order.


More Kiper NFL draft content:

Mock Draft 1.0 | Big Board | Top 5s: 2012 draft | Returnees | Regrading '11 draft



Houston Texans

Record: 2-14

Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon

He's played in 94 of 96 possible regular season games, plays a premium position, is a Pro Bowl shoo-in and would dominate in any system. Safe to say the guy Ray Lewis pushed for to free up the Baltimore linebackers has worked out just fine, and the future holds plenty more. Previous draft spot: No. 12

New Orleans Saints

Record: 3-13

Nick Mangold, C, Ohio St.

A center at No. 2 is preposterous in a real draft because it's not considered a premium position. But Mangold transcends that because he's the best in the NFL, and would make any offense better. No member of this class has more Pro Bowl appearances, or is as universally regarded as the best at what he does. Previous draft spot: No. 29

Tennessee Titans

Record: 4-12

Coming off a year in which he was close to unstoppable even within an offense that was far too easy to stop, Jones Drew has over 1,700 yards more than any other running back in this draft class after six years. Given his body type, he could be good for another five years, which puts him in elite territory historically. Previous draft spot: No. 60

New York Jets

Record: 4-12

Tamba Hali, DE, Penn St.

Who has the most sacks from this class? It's not Williams, the former No. 1 pick. No, it's Hali, who has been brilliant since converting to the 3-4 as an OLB. With 53.5 sacks in five seasons -- and only getting better -- he's quietly been very, very good, and quite durable, playing in 95 of 96 games. Imagine him in Rex Ryan's system. Previous draft spot: No. 20


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Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst