"What might have been" is a thought many humans experience on a daily basis.
With that in mind, and with the NFL Draft less than two months away, John Harris and I went back today on our "In the Lab" podcast and re-picked for the Texans in the 2004 Draft.
After a 2003 that saw the Texans win five games in the franchise's second season, Houston was picking 10th overall in the Draft.
In the table below, you can see the players they took in the left column. With the benefit of hindsight, John and I chose differently, and you can see our picks in the right column.
|ROUND (OVERALL PICK)||ORIGINAL PICK (POSITION, PLAYER, COLLEGE)||REVISED PICK (POSITION, PLAYER, COLLEGE)|
|1 (10)||CB DUNTA ROBINSON, SOUTH CAROLINA||QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER, MIAMI (OH)|
|1 (27)||OLB JASON BABIN, WESTERN MICHIGAN||S BOB SANDERS, IOWA|
|4 (122)||DB GLENN EARL, NOTRE DAME||DE JARED ALLEN, IDAHO STATE|
|6 (170)||DB VONTEZ DUFF, NOTRE DAME||OL JASON PETERS, ARKANSAS|
|6 (175)||DB JAMMAL LORD, NEBRASKA||WR WES WELKER, TEXAS TECH|
|6 (200)||LB CHARLIE ANDERSON, OLE MISS||S MIKE ADAMS, DELAWARE|
|7 (210)||LB RAHEEM ORR, RUTGERS||OL TYSON CLABO, WAKE FOREST|
|7 (211)||WR SLOAN THOMAS, TEXAS||OL SCOTT WELLS, TENNESSEE|
|7 (248)||QB B.J. SYMONS, TEXAS TECH||FB VONTA LEACH, EAST CAROLINA|
Cornerback was a definite need at the time, and quarterback David Carr was entering just his third season. But with 16 years of tape, we decided to cut bait and go with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger instead of Dunta Robinson. The latter was an above-average corner who left in free agency after the 2009 season. The former has won a pair of Super Bowls, played in a third, been to six Pro Bowls and passed for over 56,000 yards in his career.
The Texans dealt their second, third and fourth round picks to the Titans, and got back Tennessee's first and a fifth. With that first, they took pass rusher Jason Babin. He wound up having a good career, and lasted in the NFL for over a decade. Instead of Babin, though, we went with Iowa safety Bob Sanders. Even though he had trouble staying on the field consistently, he was the 2007 NFL Defensive Player of the Year on the Super Bowl champion Colts.
Houston didn't pick again until the fourth round, and they chose Notre Dame defensive back Glenn Earl. He started 31 games with the Texans. We went with Jared Allen instead. He rang up double-digit sack totals in eight seasons, topping out with 22 in 2011. When he hung it up after the 2015 season, he'd dropped the QB 136 times, forced 32 fumbles, picked off six passes and registered 171 tackles for loss.
The Texans went with another Notre Dame defensive back in the sixth round, choosing Vontez Duff. He never played a down of football for Houston. We snapped up a Hall of Fame left tackle in Jason Peters from Arkansas. He's STILL in the NFL, and started 13 games last year for the Eagles. Amazingly, Peters went undrafted back in 2004. Not in our imaginary exercise.
With the second of their three sixth rounders, Nebraksa's Jammal Lord was the original Texans pick. We went back to the undrafted well, and chose one of the greatest Red Raiders ever in Wes Welker. The slot receiver was in the NFL a dozen seasons, led the League in receptions three different years, caught 50 career touchdowns and had a 1,000 yards receiving in a season five times. Paired up with Andre Johnson, they would've been a devastating duo for the Texans.
The last of the Texans sixth rounders was Ole Miss linebacker Charlie Anderson. He was a Texan for four seasons, and logged 78 tackles and three sacks in that span. We went with safety Mike Adams out of Delaware, who was with Houston in 2019. Adams was a Pro Bowler in 2014 and 2015, and has 30 career interceptions.
In the seventh round, the Texans had three choices, and they went with Rutgers linebacker Raheem Orr, Texas receiver Sloan Thomas and Texas Tech quarterback B.J. Symons. None played in a game for the Texans. John and I beefed up the blocking by taking Wake Forest tackle Tyson Clabo, Tennessee lineman Scott Wells and East Carolina fullback Vonta Leach. That trio would make a combined five Pro Bowls, as Wells and Leach each played 11 years in the NFL, and Clabo nine.
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