A few thoughts on Mel Kiper's 2005 NFL re-draft, covering the first round and available to Insider subscribers:
Actual pick: Alex Smith, QB, Utah
Kiper re-draft pick: Aaron Rodgers
My thoughts: The question, of course, is to what extent Rodgers would have transcended the bad luck and dysfunction that framed Smith's career with the 49ers. Rodgers benefited from having a few years to learn the pro game before taking over for Brett Favre. Rodgers walked into a far more talented offense than the one that helped drag down Smith early in his career. The disparity between Smith and Rodgers has to do with more than circumstances, however. Rodgers has been better across the board. I think his personality would have helped him fare better than Smith has fared. Matt Cassel, the second quarterback selected in Kiper's re-draft, lacks the physical skills Rodgers possesses. I think he might have become another Smith if the 49ers had selected him. The 49ers would have been just fine selecting DeMarcus Ware, the second player chosen in Kiper's re-draft.
Actual pick: Antrel Rolle, CB, Miami
Kiper re-draft pick: Jay Ratliff, NT, Auburn.
My thoughts: Rolle converted to safety and earned Pro Bowl recognition before leaving Arizona in free agency. He wasn't good enough over the course of his time with the Cardinals to justify the early choice, however. Ratliff would have upgraded the Cardinals' defense. Arizona wouldn't have leaned so heavily on veteran nose tackle Bryan Robinson, who has played too many snaps. I might have sent Frank Gore to the Cardinals on a re-draft, however (Gore went 17th in Kiper's version). Taking away Gore from the 49ers and sending him to Arizona would have headed off the Edgerrin James signing while weakening a division rival. Having Gore and Kurt Warner in the same backfield would have upgraded an offense that already had outstanding weapons in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.
19. St. Louis Rams
Actual pick: Alex Barron, T, Florida St.
Kiper re-draft pick: Logan Mankins, G, Fresno St.
My thoughts: Mankins would have provided needed toughness and leadership. Barron's tenure became a yellow blur thanks to all the penalties he incurred. Darren Sproles was available in Kiper's re-draft and he would have given the Rams an scary one-two punch at running back, but building along the offensive line would have made more sense. Mankins became a Pro Bowl guard. The Rams wound up selecting guards Richie Incognito and Claude Terrell in this draft. Incognito lacked self-control and flamed out of St. Louis. Off-field issues drove Terrell out of the league. Selecting Mankins early would have averted the mistake on Barron while sending the team in another direction in the later rounds.
26. Seattle Seahawks
Actual pick: Chris Spencer, C, Mississippi
Kiper re-draft pick: Barrett Ruud, LB, Nebraska
My thoughts: The Seahawks got more immediate help at linebacker by selecting Lofa Tatupu in the second round and Leroy Hill in the third. Seattle would not have reached the Super Bowl following the 2005 season without Tatupu bringing together the defense, in my view. Ruud did not start as a rookie. Tatupu went 15th overall to Kansas City in Kiper's re-draft. Some of the other players I would have sent to Seattle in the 26th spot were also gone in the re-draft. Given how Super Bowl XL turned out, the Seahawks could have used another safety. The team liked safety-turned-linebacker Thomas Davis that year. Nick Collins and Oshiomogho Atogwe were gone on a re-draft.