We continue our series of NFL mock draft: Mocking The Mocks. This time we’re looking at the biggest what-ifs for every team since 1980. Some of them are devastating.
Instead of boring us all to the point of needing court-ordered therapy with 2023 NFL mock drafts every week until the end of April, we’ve decided to have fun. Take the idea of a mock draft, twist it and have a field day.
Alright, this week’s ground rules:
- 32 picks, 32 teams
- Worst what-ifs at the top, working our way down.
- The player chosen for each team’s worst miss MUST have been selected within two choices of the team’s draft selection. They must have been a top-32 pick. They also had to be a player who was projected in that area. No Tom Brady-type nonsense.
- All players are from the 1980 NFL Draft until now.
The Bengals can rest easy now knowing they have Joe Burrow. At thew time, they had Andy Dalton, and took receiver John Ross. Ross promptly caught 51 passes for 733 yards in his career with Cincinnati.
As most teams picking No. 1 overall do, the Saints had holes across their roster. They decided to take a running back in George Rogers over the greatest defensive player to ever live.
The Chiefs could have drafted the greatest receiver of all time. Instead, they selected running back Ethan Horton, who they cut after one season. He then went to their rivals in the Los Angeles Raiders, who turned Horton into a Pro Bowl tight end.
The Raiders were trotting out Kerry Collins at this point, fresh off a 20-interception season. Rodgers played in their backyard. Instead, they selected Fabian Washington, a corner who washed out after six unremarkable NFL seasons.
Baltimore actually took a two-time Pro Bowler here in tight end Todd Heap, but remember all those years where the Ravens had no quarterback, wasting an all-time defense? Taking Brees would have solved that issue.
Munoz is arguably the greatest left tackle in NFL history. The Jets decided to pass, instead selecting receiver Johnny Lam Jones. Jones played seven seasons and totaled 2,322 receiving yards.
Lott was considered a can’t-miss safety coming out, but the Packers chose quarterback Rich Campbell instead. Lott is the position’s standard to this day, winning four Super Bowls … which is four more games than Campbell ever started.
Remember how great Adam Carriker was? Nobody does, but the Rams took him one spot before Revis went off the board and became a generational talent at corner.
Hey, you can’t blame the Lions for passing on a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback to take a fullback named James Jones, right? Actually, you can, because they had Gary Danielson as their starter.
The Jaguars traded up to select quarterback Blaine Gabbert, one of the biggest busts of the last 20 years. With the next pick, their AFC South rivals, the Houston Texans, took Watt.
Imagine Lewis playing in Philadelphia. What an insane fit of player and fan attitude. Instead, Lewis had a first-ballot Hall of Fame career with the Ravens, while the Eagles ended up with a one-time Pro Bowl tackle in Jermane Mayberry.
Polamalu on those mid-2000s Bears defense? Forget it. Literally. Because Chicago instead took Michael Haynes two picks earlier. Haynes started four career games, lasting three years.
Johnson will waltz into Canton when he’s playing days are over. The Dolphins had their shot at him with the No. 3 overall pick, but instead took Dion Jordan, who played on four teams across six years.
Tomlinson is one of the great running backs ever. He was an MVP, three-time First-Team All-Pro and a three-time Pro Bowler. The Browns took Gerard Warren two picks ahead of him.
The Niners were insanely loaded and coming off a Super Bowl victory. Imagine if they took Sapp — the best defensive tackle of his era — instead of receiver J.J. Stokes. San Francisco did have Dana Stubblefield and Bryant Young, so it’s understandable, but still a miss.
The Patriots could have went from Tom Brady to Lamar Jackson. Instead, they’re now playing Mac Jones because in 2018, they selected running back Sony Michel.
It’s no surprise the Buccaneers missed on an elite talent. They were the definition of disaster for most of their first 25 years. Instead of taking a Hall-of-Fame linebacker in Seau, Tampa Bay went with Keith McCants, who also played linebacker.
Instead of taking the only defensive player to ever win the Heisman Trophy — who went on to become an all-time talent — the Cardinals rolled with Andre Wadsworth.
The Giants were everything Irvin wasn’t in 1988. They ran the ball, had no offensive flash. Yet he would have made them a much more dangerous team and helped them as Phil Simms aged. Instead, they selected guard Eric Moore, who never made a Pro Bowl.
With the No. 5 overall pick, the Colts wanted to upgrade the middle of their defense. They had a future Hall of Fame waiting for them. And they took linebacker Trev Alberts. San Francisco scooped Young up two picks later.
Mack played his college ball in Buffalo. The Bills, picked fourth-overall, could have taken him. Instead, they went with receiver Sammy Watkins. Watkins has been decent, but injuries have forced him to play with five teams. Mack will be a Hall of Famer.
What makes this particularly hilarious is the Falcons took a running back here, just Gerald Riggs instead of Allen. Riggs was good, but Allen was one of the best to ever play.
This falls down the list because Pittsburgh was loaded at linebacker, but they could have used an upgrade inside with Kevin Greene and Greg Lloyd on the outside. Instead, Pittsburgh drafted tight end Mark Bruener.
The expansion Panthers took a corner at 22nd-overall whose name began with Ty. Somehow, it was Tyrone Poole and not Ty Law. Poole played three years in Carolina before bouncing around. Law won three Super Bowls with the Patriots and resides in the Hall of Fame.
Hutchinson was a seven-time Pro Bowler and a five-time First-Team All-Pro, earning 2000s All-Decade status. Washington instead selected receiver Rod Gardner, who did not earn All-Decade status to the shock of many.
Willis played eight NFL seasons and was an All-Pro in six of them (five times on the First Team). Houston had him on its board, but instead went with 19-year-old Amobi Okoye. It didn’t work out.
Munchak was an eight-time All-Pro and nine-time Pro Bowl guard with the Houston Oilers, earning enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Minnesota decided to pass on him, instead taking running back Darrin Nelson.
Imagine for a second, seeing Watt and Micah Parsons screaming off the edge. It could have happened for Dallas, but instead the Cowboys took Taco Charlton. Charlton has played on five teams in six seasons.
The Titans took a reach at quarterback with Jake Locker instead of landing a stud left tackle in Smith, who has made eight Pro Bowls over his career with the Cowboys.
Thomas was a dominant force with the Legion of Boom, and it all happened because the Chargers selected running back Ryan Mathews. Not ideal.
Winfield was a great player, enjoying 14 seasons and making three Pro Bowls. However, the Seahawks drafted defensive end Lamar King, who lasted five years and was finished.
The Broncos didn’t miss any major talents in the first rounds, but this was one. Porcher was a three-time Pro Bowler who amassed 95.5 career sacks. Denver took quarterback Tommy Maddox, who started exactly four games over two years in the Mile High City.