2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

by Sean McCormick

In 2004, Football Outsiders published its first "Six Years Later" review of a past NFL draft. That article reviewed the pick of the elder Manning brother as the NFL world prepared for the arrival of the younger Manning brother. Now it's 2010, and we're finally in position to look back on Manning vs. Rivers and the other debates of the first draft we actually got to discuss here at FO.

The top of every draft class is hyped to the moon in the run-up to draft day, but nearly everyone agreed that the 2004 class was something special. It had a Manning and a Winslow. It had the "U." It had top quarterbacks, elite cornerbacks, and explosive wide receivers by the bushel. Yep, by all accounts, this draft class was going to take the NFL by storm. But did it? Let's go back and look at the good picks, the bad picks, and the things every general manager knows now and wishes he knew then. (And if you want to see what reporters and draft analysts thought they knew then -- even though now we know that they didn't know what they thought they knew -- check out the first-ever version of another annual FO tradition, the FO Draft Report Card Report.)


Conventional wisdom: There were three elite prospects in this draft class, with each one providing a little something different. Did you want a guy with impeccable bloodlines? All you had to do was select Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning, the son of former No. 2 overall pick Archie Manning and the younger brother of former No. 1 overall pick Peyton Manning. Did you want a four-year starter whose intelligence and character reminded scouts of a young Tom Brady? North Carolina State's Philip Rivers was your guy. Did you want a 6-foot-5 specimen with an unpronounceable name and the best physical tools of the bunch? There was one of those, too, thanks to Miami of Ohio's Ben Roethlisberger.

Highest pick: Eli Manning, Ole Miss, first overall to the Chargers

Best player: The big cliche with picking from the top group of prospects is that you can't go wrong with any of these guys, and while it almost never works out that way, it did in 2004. No quarterback class, not even the famous class of 1983, can outshine the performance of Rivers, Roethlisberger, and Manning, who have combined for three Super Bowl championships, a bevy of playoff appearances and oodles and oodles of yards. Rivers has been the most prolific, Roethlisberger the most iconic, and Manning the most controversial, but it's safe to say that all three players are the centerpieces of their respective franchises. Reporters and draftniks were fairly split over whether or not the Chargers made the right move when they swapped Manning for Rivers and picks. Ron Borges made himself look like, well, Ron Borges when he wrote, "It's not easy to have the first pick in the draft and still blow it, but the Chargers managed to do so." He slapped San Diego with a "D" grade. Pete Prisco and Dan Pompeii, in contrast, loved the trade and approved of what the Chargers did with their extra picks. Midway through the 2006 season, when the Giants were struggling and the Chargers were pounding everyone in sight, this was looking like one of the more lopsided trades in recent memory, but with the precipitous decline of Shawne Merriman, the scales have evened out a bit.

Biggest bust: J.P. Losman, Tulane, 22nd overall to the Bills. After missing out on the studs at the top of the draft, the Bills traded back up into the first round to take the Tulane gunslinger. Losman was small, but had a cannon arm and a reputation for great athleticism. As it turns out, a cannon arm and great athleticism are overrated if you can't make quick decisions with the ball and take sacks like the second coming of Rob Johnson. Losman put together some highlight-reel deep throws to Lee Evans, but he never developed into a dependable field general.

Best value: Matt Schaub, Virginia, 90th overall to the Falcons. Schaub was the best quarterback in Atlanta from the moment he was drafted, but he was doomed to ride the pine behind Michael Vick for the foreseeable future. (How ironic that one looks in hindsight.) The Texans were shopping for a quarterback after deciding they'd had enough of the David Carr experience, and they sent a 2007 second-round pick to Atlanta for Schaub. Many touchdown throws to Andre Johnson later, that move looks pretty good; last year, Schaub even kicked the injury bug and started all 16 games for the first time.

Running Backs

Conventional wisdom: The consensus top back in the class was Oregon State's Steven Jackson, who was considered a franchise back and worthy of a high first-round pick. The only question was if there was a team at the top of the draft whose needs matched up with Jackson's talents. Virginia Tech's Kevin Jones was an intriguing player who had the potential to slip into the back end of the first round, and both Michigan's Chris Perry and Florida State's Greg Jones each had their fans among NFL scouting departments.

Highest pick: Steven Jackson, Oregon State, 24th overall to the Rams.

Best player: Jackson. Once Jackson started to slip, most people assumed the Cowboys would take advantage at pick 23, but Bill Parcells opted to trade down and select Julius Jones in the second round. Oops. The Rams scooped up Jackson with the next pick. Sometimes top backs are lucky to slide a bit in the draft. The position has a short shelf-life, and the backs get to go straight to competitive teams rather than waste their best years getting obliterated behind bad offensive lines while they wait for the team to improve. Jackson no doubt had visions of being the feature back that carried the Greatest Show on Turf through the end of the decade. Instead, the Rams promptly fell off a cliff, and Jackson was left to get obliterated behind a bad offensive line for five years, and without the comfort of a top-five contract to soothe the aches and pains. We're rooting for Steve Spagnuolo to get the Rams turned around quickly, if only to reward Jackson for his thankless service.

Biggest bust: Chris Perry, Michigan, 26th overall to the Bengals. This pick looked fishy at the time, as the Bengals had effective power runner Rudi Johnson already on the roster. Perry was supposed to add a reliable receiving threat out of the backfield for Carson Palmer, but he only appeared in 35 of 80 games due to injuries, and he put up DVOA ratings of -20.8% and -55.2% during the two seasons when he actually caught passes.

Best value: Michael Turner, Northern Illinois, 154th overall to the Chargers. Turner was drafted to provide quality depth behind Ladanian Tomlinson, but he flashed such ability during his limited touches that it was only a matter of time until a team decided to make Turner a feature back. The Falcons made the investment, giving Turner a contract commensurate with a star rather than a rotational player, and in his first season in Atlanta, Turner rushed for 1,699 yards and 17 touchdowns. If Turner can steer clear of future overuse, he figures to throw up impressive stats for several more years.

Wide Receivers

Conventional wisdom: This was considered to be the deepest position in the entire draft, as evidenced by the NFL-record seven receivers who were selected in the first round. Pittsburgh's Larry Fitzgerald was the jewel of the group, a physically dominating talent capable of playing in any offense. Outside of the top five, there were still plenty of options. Wisconsin's Lee Evans and LSU's Devery Henderson were speed receivers capable of getting behind NFL defenders. Texas' Roy Williams and LSU's Michael Clayton big, physical frames to block out defensive backs. Rashaun Woods was a dominant receiver at the college level, but while some scouts marveled at his production, others were concerned that he was a system player who would struggle to transition to the pros.

Highest pick: Larry Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh, third overall to the Cardinals.

Best player: Fitzgerald. With the inevitable aging of Randy Moss, Fitzgerald has emerged as one of the two most physically dominant receivers in the NFL (the other being Andre Johnson). Fitzgerald doesn't have the pure raw speed of other elite receivers, but he has good football speed, as evidenced by his 63-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown in Super Bowl XLIII. More importantly, he has the best set of hands and the best body control of any receiver in recent memory. He can catch the ball despite a defender having perfect position on him.

Biggest bust: Rashaun Woods, Oklahoma State, 31st overall to the 49ers. Woods looked the part of a big-time wide receiver at OSU, setting Big 12 records in receptions, yardage and touchdowns, but his professional career went off the rails almost immediately and never recovered. In his first mini-camp, there were whispers that Woods wasn't smart enough to pick up the offense. He finished his rookie season with only seven receptions for 160 yards and spent his sophomore year on injured reserve with torn ligaments. The 49ers decided they'd seen enough and traded Woods in 2006 to San Diego for cornerback Sammy Davis, but Woods didn't even make it out of the Chargers' training camp.

Best value: Bernard Berrian, Fresno State, 78th overall to the Bears and Jerricho Cotchery, North Carolina State, 108th overall to the Jets. Berrian's ability as a deep threat was somewhat obscured by the poor quality of his quarterbacks, but he had a breakout season during Chicago's 2006 Super Bowl run and was able to parlay that into a six-year, $42 million contract with the Vikings. Cotchery doesn't make that kind of coin, but he's been a steady performer since assuming a starting role in 2006.

Tight Ends

Conventional wisdom: With the emergence of the pass-catching tight end who could split wide or play on the line and attack the seam of a two-deep zone, teams started to place a higher premium on the position. That higher premium meant that teams were willing to consider drafting tight ends in the rarified air of the top five or six picks in the draft -- a place traditionally reserved for quarterbacks, left tackles, defensive ends, and whatever receiver Matt Millen happened to covet that year. The test case for how high a tight end could go was University of Miami star Kellen Winslow, who was the son of a Hall of Famer and a better talent than fellow-Hurricane Jeremy Shockey ever was. Herm Edwards declared Winslow to be the best player in the entire draft. While no other tight end prospect was close to getting a green room invitation, there were several highly regarded prospects, including Florida's Ben Troupe, Ohio State's Ben Hartsock and Georgia's Benjamin Watson.

Highest pick: Kellen Winslow Jr., Miami, 6th overall to the Browns

Best player: Chris Cooley, Utah State, 81st overall to the Redskins. One could make an argument for Winslow, who has been dynamic when he's been healthy and paired with a competent quarterback, but you could count the times that has happened on one hand (and still have four fingers left over). Instead of the star-crossed "soldier" with his broken fibulas and staph infections (not to mention motorcycle accidents), we'll go with Cooley, a two-time Pro Bowler and blogosphere all-star. Cooley first emerged as a quality receiving threat out of the H-back position midway through his rookie season, and he maintained his production until last season when he was sidelined by a broken ankle.

Biggest bust: Ben Troupe, University of Florida, 40th overall to the Titans. Troupe was considered a poor man's version of Winslow when he came out of Florida, but he was never able to climb above second-string on the Tennessee depth chart, and after brief and undistinguished stints with Tampa Bay and Oakland, Troupe washed out of the league altogether.

Best values: It sure isn't Winslow, who cost the Browns first- and second-round picks and then gave them only two full seasons and two near-total injury washouts. Cooley, clearly.

Offensive Line

Conventional wisdom: Iowa's Robert Gallery was the next great tackle prospect, a superb technician who would make a seamless transition to the pros and add his name to the list of highly drafted success stories like Tony Boselli, Jonathan Ogden, Walter Jones and Orlando Pace. After Gallery, there was a major drop-off, as there were question marks with every other tackle prospect and a paucity of interior line talent. Arkansas' Shawn Andrews was a giant road-grader with nimble feet, but his weight issues were a major red flag for interested parties. Miami's Vernon Carey was a solid player on an elite offensive unit who didn't project clearly to a position. It was thought that he might be a left tackle, might be a right tackle, or might fit best at guard.

Highest pick: Robert Gallery, Iowa, second overall to the Raiders.

Best player: Chris Snee, Boston College, 34th overall to the Giants. Snee was engaged to coach Tom Coughlin's daughter at the time the Giants opted to select him at the top of the second round (then general manager Ernie Accorsi said he would not have made the selection if Coughlin was uncomfortable with it), and it would be easy to criticize Coughlin for showing signs of nepotism if the pick didn't pan out. But the pick did pan out, as Snee grabbed hold of the right guard job as a rookie and has shown no signs of relinquishing it. Snee was named All-Pro in 2008 and 2009, and he helped the Giants post the best ALY between the tackles in 2008.

Biggest bust: Robert Gallery. Draft experts used names like Anthony Muñoz and Tony Boselli to show that that left tackle was the safest position in the draft and to justify taking Gallery with a top pick, but they conveniently left out the name Tony Mandarich'. But Mandarich is the player whose pro career has most closely resembled Gallery's. Gallery's technical skill and the relative dearth of quality pass rushers in the Big Ten camouflaged the fact that he simply wasn't quick enough out of his stance to take away the outside edge from NFL defensive ends. The Raiders flipped Gallery back and forth between left and right tackle, desperately trying to find a position for him. In the end, they accepted reality and shifted him inside to guard, where his slow feet would be less of an impediment. Like Mandarich, Gallery has developed into an acceptable interior player, but that's not exactly what you're looking for from the second pick in the draft.

Best values: Jake Scott and Jacob Bell have both been consistent and productive interior players in the AFC South, and both players were selected after the fourth round. Both players were in demand in last year's free agent crop, with Bell moving from Tennessee to St. Louis, and Scott sliding into Bell's old spot with the Titans.

Defensive Line

Conventional wisdom: This was not one of the stronger defensive line crops in recent memory, and despite the high demand for pass rushers, there was no lineman who was expected to go anywhere near the top of the draft. The best prospect was probably Oklahoma's Tommie Harris, a lightning quick three-technique defensive tackle with a propensity for showing up on the injury report. Miami's Vince Wilfork was a mountain of a man with the build to play the nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme. USC's Kenechi Udeze and Ohio State's Will Smith were both well-rounded defensive ends who didn't have the pure pass-rushing skills to be taken in the top half of the round. Jason Babin did have those skills, but he was considered a wild card because of the low level of competition he faced at Western Michigan.

Highest pick: Tommie Harris, Oklahoma, 14th overall to the Bears.

Best player: Vince Wilfork, University of Miami, 21st overall to the Patriots. The Belichick-era Patriots have a well-deserved reputation for trotting out aging veterans on defense, but that's only true of linebackers and defensive backs. Wilfork completed New England's starting trio of young first-round linemen, sliding immediately into Ted Washington's spot and proved every bit as stout at the point of attack. The Patriots just committed $40 million dollars, including $18 million guaranteed, to make sure that Wilfork will continue to man the center of their defense for another five years.

Biggest bust: Kenechi Udeze, Southern California, 20th overall to the Vikings. Udeze went one pick before Wilfork, and at the time, he seemed like a perfect fit for the pass-rush starved Vikings. Udeze played well as a rookie, notching 36 tackles and five sacks, but a knee injury cut short his sophomore season after only three games. Udeze started for another two seasons, but he was never able to improve on his rookie sack total. In 2008, Udeze was diagnosed with leukemia, a development which forced his retirement from football.

Best value: Darnell Dockett, Florida State, 64th overall to the Cardinals and Corey Williams, Arkansas State, 179th overall to the Packers. The Cardinals made it three-for-three in the 2004 draft when they selected Dockett at the top of the third round. The Florida State defensive tackle was undersized but proved to be extremely disruptive, as he proved to a national audience during an MVP-caliber performance in Super Bowl XLIII. Corey Williams played well enough in his first few seasons in Green Bay to convince Cleveland that he was a blossoming star and worth trading a second-round pick for, but he proved to be a bad fit as a 3-4 end in Cleveland's system, so they traded him to Detroit this offseason for nickels on the dollar . Jim Schwartz's scheme should be a lot friendlier for Williams, who could easily rebound to the form he showed as a Packer (sticking Ndamokung Suh next to him wouldn't hurt).

(Ed. Note: Yes, as noted below in the comments, the original article completely forgot Jared Allen. Sorry about that.)


Conventional wisdom: The top two linebackers on the board were a pair of Hurricanes, each with a distinctly different skills. Jonathan Vilma was a fast but undersized middle linebacker whose instincts reminded draft analysts of Ray Lewis. D.J. Williams had prototype size to go along with his blazing speed and was devastating in run support, but there were some questions about how instinctive he was. Georgia Tech's Daryl Smith, Oklahoma's Teddy Lehman, and Auburn's Karlos Dansby were considered second-round prospects.

Highest pick: Jonathan Vilma, Miami, 12th overall to the Jets.

Best player: Karlos Dansby, Auburn, 33rd overall to the Cardinals. Dansby proved to be a tremendously versatile linebacker who rarely needed to come off the field. He is equally adept at run support and pass coverage and is a willing and capable blitzer. After being franchised by the Cardinals for two consecutive years, Dansby entered this offseason as the second-most attractive player on the free agent market behind Julius Peppers. Miami quickly rewarded Dansby with a five-year, $43 million contract, and they'll play him on the inside of their 3-4 next to Channing Crowder.

Biggest bust: Teddy Lehman, Oklahoma, 37th overall to the Lions. Lehman was a star for Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, winning the Dick Butkus award as the nation's top linebacker his senior season, but he simply could not hold up to the pounding of the NFL game. After starting all 16 games his rookie season, Lehman's career degenerated into a long string of injuries and ineffective seasons. He bounced around from Detroit to Tampa Bay, back to Detroit, to Buffalo, and finally to the UFL.

Best value: Dansby.

Defensive Backs

Conventional wisdom: This was considered to be a very strong group of cornerbacks, with both top-end talent and depth. Virginia Tech's DeAngelo Hall, South Carolina's Dunta Robinson and Ohio State's Chris Gamble were the headliners. Players like USC's Will Poole, Oklahoma's Derrick Strait, Montana State's Joey Thomas and Arkansas' Ahmad Carroll added depth to the group and convinced teams that they could find potential starters at any point during the first day. The crown jewel among the secondary players, however, was Miami's Sean Taylor. Taylor was the mirror image of his teammate Kellen Winslow Jr. -- a big, fast, rangy safety who had the ability to lock up the new breed of tight ends with close man coverage or to drop back and play centerfield in a Cover-1 look. Many scouts thought Taylor to be the most talented player in the draft. Georgia's Sean Jones and Iowa's Bob Sanders were also quality safety prospects, likely second-round picks.

Highest pick: Sean Taylor, University of Miami, fifth overall to the Redskins.

Best player: Bob Sanders, Iowa, 44th overall to the Colts. Taylor never did revolutionize the position, but he did turn out to be an excellent player -- until he was tragically murdered in his Miami home during the course of a robbery. Otherwise, he might have had a longer career and more value than Sanders, the 2007 Defensive Player of the Year. The knock on him at Iowa was that he was undersized and potentially too fragile to hold up in the NFL. He has done nothing to disprove that notion.

Biggest bust: Ahmad Carroll, Arkansas, 25th overall to the Packers. Carroll's nickname coming out of college was Batman, but he should have been called Robin considering the way he constantly had yellow flags tossed in his direction. Carroll was a walking pass interference call during his stay in Green Bay. He's currently the fifth corner in New York behind such luminary talents as Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman.

Best value: Gibril Wilson, Tennessee, 136th overall to the Giants. Wilson looked like a pretty sweet pickup for the Giants early on, a second-day selection who came on and became a competent starter for four seasons, chipped 11 interceptions and a half-dozen sacks along the way. Good value, right? Needless to say, this convinced Al Davis to make him the third-highest paid safety in the NFL. He spent a year cleaning up the mess left by the rest of the Raiders' poor run defense, then got cut. The Dolphins snapped Wilson up, gave him a spin for a year, then decided they'd seen enough and cut him as well, which just goes to show that once you go through the Al Davis vortex, you may never fully recover.

Special Teams

Conventional wisdom: Not a banner year. The reigning award-winners were Jon Nichols of Ole Miss (Lou Groza Award) and B.J. Sander of Ohio State (Ray Guy Award).

Highest pick: Nate Kaeding, University of Iowa, 65th overall to the Chargers.

Best player: Chosen with one of the picks acquired in the Manning-Rivers trade, Kaeding ranked among the league's top placekickers but inexplicably melted down during this year's playoff game against the Jets. Don't take specialists in the third round, people.

Biggest bust: B.J. Sander, Ohio State, 87th overall to the Packers. Green Bay inexplicably traded a fifth-rounder to Miami to move up and grab Sander, who despite winning the Ray Guy Award had only started for one year in college. It was the only time since 1985 that a team has traded up in order to select a punter. Sander spent his whole rookie year inactive, was the worst punter in the league in this second season, and never played in the league again. Don't take specialists in the third round, people.

Best value: Josh Scobee, Louisiana Tech, 137th overall to the Jaguars. Scobee's field-goal performance has been up and down, but he's been one of the top kickoff men in the league for six years. Scobee's been about 98 percent of the player that Kaeding has been, and all the Jaguars needed was the patience to wait two and a half rounds. Don't take specialists in the third round, people.

Past articles in this series:


203 comments, Last at 30 Mar 2010, 7:30am

178 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

logical fallacy - he said you need a great NT to be considered "one of the best". He didn't say that was all you needed.

To disprove the assertion, it is irrelevant to show a 3-4 defense with a great NT that is not one of the best defenses. You have to do the opposite: show a great 3-4 defense with mediocre NT play.

40 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

Nitpicky comment here. Texans traded two round 2 picks and swapped picks in the first round for Schaub. I'd still say the Texans got the better end of that trade.

41 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

The lack of picks in the 2005 draft hardly affected the Giants. I doubt another team has ever had a better draft with less than 5 picks and no first rounder... Corey Webster (2nd round), Justin Tuck (3rd round), Brandon Jacobs (4th round), Eric Moore (6th round).

I highly doubt Ernie Accorsi or the Maras/Tisches sit around pondering what would've happened if they drafted Philip Rivers instead of Eli. Rivers is a wonderful player, but he's not Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. In addition, Eli isn't Jay Shroeder, the player he was compared to on this site 5 years ago.

48 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later


Somebody else remembers who Eli Manning was compared to around here. You also probably remember the jokes, and the Giants as the 18th best team in the league the year they beat the bestest team ever.

To somebody who "understood" the Giants it was very upsetting. To somebody who was telling them why they were wrong the entire way it was annoy. To then hear people say they are the "experts of the NFL" can also be a soft spot for me.

Rant End

49 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

This was probably the last good draft the Bears had.

1. Tommie Harris
2. Tank Johnson
3. Bernard Berrian
4. Nathan Vasher
4. Leon Joe

These guys were a big reason why the Bears would make it to the super bowl in 2006. Harris was dominant, Johnson looked good when he was surrounded by lots of talent. Berrian was a solid receiver and Vasher was a steal in the 4th. Joe was also very good on special teams.

59 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

You know it's funny, Angelo actually did pretty good in the 2005 draft especially considering how talent poor it was overall. Benson, Orton, and Chris Harris are all starters, just not on the Bears.

I still have high hopes for the 2008 draft. Chris Williams, Forte, Bennett, and Bowman have all shown they can play, and Kellen Davis has flashed potential. We really need one of Angelo's D-line picks to pan out, and to find a safety that can cover.

52 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

To be fair to Robert Gallery, he's more than just an 'acceptable interior player' - he's one of the best LGs in the league. You could argue that Shawn Andrews is a bigger bust, seeing as he's not even on an NFL roster now.

57 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

Since when do we privilege pro bowls uber alles around here? Gallery's as good a guard today as Andrews ever was, with the added bonus that he's still in the league. I'd say he's definitely provided more value over the course of his career.

65 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

I demand that Jason Babin get recognition for the biggest bust, taking into consideration all the Texans gave up to acquire him.

79 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

Schaub was the best quarterback in Atlanta from the moment he was drafted

Ahahahaha. Yes, if only Schaub were the starter that year, the Falcons would have beaten the Eagles in the NFC Championship.

154 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

The Falcons were an average indoor team playing outdoors in cold weather against a very good Eagles team. Up grading from slightly-above-average 2004 Vick to even the 2009 version of Schaub still would have left them as significant underdogs in the NFCCG.

156 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

Actually, if it was super windy couldn't you make the argument that an in his prime Mike Vick would be a better QB to have in that situation? Didn't that same average Falcons team win an outdoor game in cold weather at Lambeau Field the previous week?

161 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

I was replying to the word "upgrade".

I meant do you think that a once-in-a-generation-fast-mobile-QB-who-is-a-below-average-passer-but-had-very-good-arm-strength would give you a better chance to win a windy, cold playoff game than an above-average-traditional-passer-with-a-decent-arm-but-not-exactly-considered-tough-and-who-also-plays-in-a-dome.

I think it's a stretch, but you could probably put together some kind of argument.

166 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

You could put together an argument (I'd probably disagree, because I think Vick was a better runner on turf than grass, but I agree that a case could be made). My overall point was neither QB makes it likely for Atlanta to win that game, as TruFalcons asserted.

I also seem to recall Vick playing that whole game looking like he just wanted to give up and go someplace warm. Been a while, maybe I'm just remembering it wrong.

191 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

No, that's pretty accurate. Dawkins blanketed Crumpler and Vick threw a pick (which bounced off Peerless Price's hands)while getting sacked multiple times. Falcons were not a very good team that year, they had a pass rush but no secondary (still waiting for that to be addressed) and McNabb exploited them in coverage.

That was 2 years after the Lambeau game - the Eagles knocked the Falcons out in 2002 as well - that time in the divisional round.
In 2004 the Falcons shredded the Rams on the ground and put up 46 points on them to advance to the championship game. That would have never happened with Schaub. The Falcons were carried by Vick throughout his career.

82 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

I don't really like this "best player" thing. I do think that Shawn Andrews was the best OL of that class, and one of the best OL of his generation.
Same for S.Taylor, who was a much better player than B.Sanders. Sanders and Snee ended up being better picks for their team, but I don't think they were the better players.

94 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

I generally don't believe that avoiding injury is a "skill" like some people seem to. People talk about Peyton's backup like he's irrelevant because Manning has some magic aura that protects him from injury, which I think is bullshit. Brady was an Iron Man too until Pollard wrecked his knee.

Basically I think injuries, unless you're injuring the same body part over and over, is mostly bad luck. But Sanders gets hurt SO OFTEN (and a lot of time it's been knees, but it's also been foot, ankle, arm etc) that I think you have to factor it into how "good" he is.

99 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

Luck tends to average out. Even Brett Favre probably should have sat for some games in 2008. However, Peyton Manning has played 11 years without missing a start. Brady played 7 before getting hurt, and he was listed as questionable for 6 of them.

104 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

Luck may tend to average out and so maybe Cadillac Williams doesn't have another serious injury his entire career... but the majority of players who experienced the bad luck that he did wouldn't be able to play long enough FOR their luck to even out...

I only bring up the Manning thing cause I read in a recent MMQB (I know, I know) that it didn't matter who the Colts backup QB was but that 2008 "proved" we need to keep an eye out on who the backup in New England is. Which is just fucking stupid.

Anyway, I just think it's lame when someone gets labelled as "injury prone" cause they gets their arm broken 2 seasons in a row by some 250lb dude running as fast as they can helmet first into them. Same with a lot of knee injuries. At a certain point it's just physics.

110 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

I'm aware that the writers on this site believes that Michael Vick is overrated...


get real. Young Matt Schaub was not as good as Michael Vick at the time. Regardless of how overrated one might feel Michael Vick was, he was a well above replacement level qb who tended to win his games.

That being said...One reason it's so hard to measure qbs against one another is that the stats are so meshed to offensive philosophy. Philip Rivers is pretty good, but he's in an offense that is well designed to create wide open recievers most of the time, and if the defense is good, use their size to overwhelm DBs. I'm not sure how well Rivers' skillset could translate to other teams. If he were in Jay Cutler's place in Chicago...well, I'd say he'd have fewer interceptions, but Soldier Field and the 2009 Bears offense would have negated River's talent quite a bit more thoroughly than, say, Aaron Rodgers. I don't really think Rivers, like Schaub still, can get yards consistently under adverse situations. Eli Manning is far more consistent in keeping an offense running under fire. Sorta like the difference between McNabb vs Dallas pass rush and Romo vs Minny pass rush. FUBAR, but McNabb constantly made space for tiny chances for success in a way that Romo could not. Not that it made one whit of a difference. When you're outgunned, you're pretty much done. But that ability creates lucky bounces of the ball, metaphorically speaking, which won Philly extra games.

I view the gaudy pass stats of this last year with a fairly large dose of skepticism. 1) The NFL was pretty unequal this year, and there were lots of secondaries that really couldn't cope. 2) Much of those numbers come from styles of offensive play that resembles Martz tendencies. It works well to generate lots of completions, but Big Ben and ARodgers aren't going to be able to keep healthy, similar to Mark Bulger. Next year is going to be pretty much do or die for Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco. They were not bad, but they still needed tremendous amounts of help to succeed and when that help isn't there or they have to make big passes late in the game, I don't see it yet.

131 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

McNabb got almost nothing going against Dallas, and one thing I've always liked about Romo is his ability to make plays happen when his line is poor, see 2006. In short, I think you have 'em backwards.

Seriously, Philly got 7 points with McNabb on the field in the last 120 minutes they played against the Cowboys.

Team Reid-McNabb is also historically terrible at clock management.

113 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

Do or die for Flacco and Ryan? I don't see it. I'm not saying there's not pressure on them to improve(particularly Flacco) but neither team is planning on finding their replacements just yet either.

149 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

Agreed. It's not like either of them had a major regression last year, and
Baltimore's activities this offseason would appear to confirm the view that
Flacco didn't exactly have a WR corps that struck fear into defenses. Also I
think that the impatience factor these days just causes too many people to
forget that QBs don't develop overnight.

151 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

This is year 3 for flacco and ryan and while i dont think ryan is in an danger whatsoever this could be a make or break year for flacco. The view has been that its because of the receiver corp that he didnt improve but adding boldin makes it so the blame will go onto him this year if he faulters. If he has a disastrous year i can see the ravens dumping him.

153 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

What constitutes a disaster?

He took them deep into the playoffs his rookie season, won a playoff game his second season, and improved in every significant statistical category. He went from 384 DYAR to 815, from 60% to 63%, from 2900 yds to 3,613 yds, from 14 TDs to 21 TDs and held pat on his INTs at 12. This with a WR corps that probably got worse from his rookie to sophomore year (Mason is getting old).

180 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

The Ravens would seriously entertain "dumping" Flacco? He's better than half of the starting QBs in the NFL. Also, you don't dump a starting QB unless you have somebody better. The Ravens should be quite happy with Flacco. There's no reason to think he would have a "disastrous" year.

189 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

Flacco fell apart last year for the good second half of the season. While his overall numbers are better than half the starting quarterbacks, if the trend continues into this year he could have a delhomme type year. I agree i dont think he will have that bad of a year but i wouldnt be shocked if he did. While his numbers were better than half the starting quarterbacks in the nfl i dont think he is better than half the starting quarterbacks in the nfl. He is well below that in my opinion.

200 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

I'd feel better about being the Ravens, having taken Flacco where they did, than being the Falcons, taking Ryan where they did, right now. Flacco played a tough set of defenses (Pitt twice, CIN twice), and had virtually no receivers other than the ghost of Derrick Mason and Ray Rice. I think he should be a breakout candidate this year with Stallworth and Boldin; Mason should move to the slot and run the Welker/Dallas Clark type routes over the middle. Flacco has a good arm and has improved from Year 1 to Year 2. The knock on him coming into the league was that he wasn't ready, and he's worked through that. He has better physical tools than Ryan, and appears willing to work with them. At this point, I think he has the ability to have at least a Ben Roethlisberger type career, if not a Brett Favre type career. Ryan's ceiling is more in the area of Chad Pennington without the injuries.

201 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

According to his voa he not only played a much easier schedule than ryan, he also played a below average schedule in difficulty. Basically, his numbers were inflated due to how easy his schedule was. If he plays a normal or above average difficulty in schedule next year he could regress despite the addition of boldin. I expect similar numbers next year though. But if he doesnt improve the blame will be solely on him. No more can people say he doesnt have good receivers. If he flops with the addition of boldin it makes it pretty clear that he is the problem. If he throws for only about 2500-3000 yards and the ravens dont make the playoffs he will be getting tons of grief.

over the last 8 games of the season he averaged below 200 yards per game. i think the number was 193 but i closed the calculator. 8 isnt the magic number either, if you add the two games before that he actually goes down in ypg. This comes out to close to 3100 yards over the course of a season and that is despite playing an easy schedule. He has the perfect ingredients for a make or break season and anywhere in between. If he flops he breaks. If he blows up he becomes elite. Most likely he will remain in the middle.

203 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

The 49ers are back to trotting out Alex Smith ages after he clearly flopped. Quarterbacks with promise have really log windows to succeed, and Flacco has already been the best quarterback in franchise history.

164 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

"Carroll's nickname coming out of college was Batman, but he should have been called Robin considering the way he constantly had yellow flags tossed in his direction."

If Carroll would be robin' he wouldn't be battin'.

167 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

Best receiver in the draft. Best linebacker in the draft. Best value at defensive line in the draft.

Crown their ass, indeed.

168 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

Chargers fans have to convince themselves they got the best of the deal. They have nothing else to hold their hats on. Ben- 2 rings/ Eli 1 ring/ Rivers- playoff flop/ Brees- 1 ring.

Dont tell me its not an advantage to play a game in San Diego in November and December. To say otherwise is laughable. The AFC West is also laughable.

Rivers acts like a loud mouth child, who needs to focus his batshit crazy attitude, and work it into a positive, in the playoffs. Otherwise, he's just going to collect stats, like Dan Fouts.

169 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

Ill never understand why san diego and dallas are the common fans two least favorite teams and by a large margin. An advantage to play a game in san diego in november and december? Is the other team not playing in their same stadium? What about the dome teams or miami and arizona? Change your name because its clearly not true.

172 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

Dallas is hated because of a combination of their owner, the perception that the 90s teams were a bunch of out-of-control felons, and the 'America's Team' designation (which, admittedly, was invented by NFL Films and not anyone associated with the Cowboys).

I haven't really noticed the same hatred for San Diego.

193 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

The Miami Dolphins were just as good over a similar stretch without drawing the same hatred. The Steelers have been successful for an even longer stretch (though for a smaller proportion of the franchise's history), and only evoke that kind of persistent hatred from Oakland & Cleveland.

181 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

I think San Diego is only hated by "common fans" in your head.

Of course, your antics in the comment sections here certainly don't help us like the Chargers any more than we did previously, so maybe you're onto something...

187 Re: 2004 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

i dont think that's true of sd, though i'm in sd so maybe i wouldn't see it. there are sure a lot of people who find the pats irritating.

parent poster (so cal fan) is a clown, and not worthy of argument.