In the aftermath of the Giants’ Super Bowl win, much has been made already of the legacy of quarterback Eli Manning, whether he is a Hall of Famer already (I say no right now, although he’s certainly putting together that kind of résumé) and where he fits among the pecking order of today’s QBs. That’s all well and good, but from my perspective, any time I think of Manning I think of what would have happened had McCown-to-Poole not shocked the Vikings. Is Manning a Cardinal?
It’s a moot point, of course, but that line of thinking took me to yet another place this morning: The impact of that 2004 draft class. Most of the time, the top half of the first round provides as many busts as success stories. It sure seems, eight seasons in, that the 2004 first round was better than most, at least in those top 16 picks.
There was Manning going first. The Raiders took tackle Robert Gallery next, and while he hasn’t been a Pro Bowler, he developed into a pretty solid NFL guard (now playing in Seattle). Larry Fitzgerald went third, QB Philip Rivers fourth. S Sean Taylor went to the Redskins, and he was becoming a star before his tragic murder. TE Kellen Winslow has been solid if not spectacular playing for bad teams in Cleveland and Tampa.
There were also cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall (8) and Dunta Robinson (10), Big Ben at 11, LB Jonathan Vilma (12) and Pro Bowl linemen Tommie Harris (a DT at 14) and Shaun Andrews (a T at 16). It was the receivers, other than Fitz, that put the dent in the group, since Roy Williams (7), Reggie Williams (9), Lee Evans (13) and Mark Clayton (15) all fizzled to a point, although Roy W. and Evans have been OK (well, at least until Evans dropped the Ravens’ chance to be in the Super Bowl.)
That first round also produced NT Vince Wilfork, RB Steven Jackson and LB Jason Babin.
It is also arguably the Cards’ best draft ever, with Fitz, Karlos Dansby, Darnell Dockett and Antonio Smith. All but Dansby have appeared in a Pro Bowl. (In 2001, the Cards got Leonard Davis, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Adrian Wilson and 10-year DB Renaldo Hill; in 1979 the Cards, with 12 picks, ended up with RB Ottis Anderson, T Joe Bostic and WR/DB Roy Green — and future baseball star Kirk Gibson, as a Michigan State WR, although obviously Gibson didn’t come to the NFL.)
Tags: draft, Eli Manning, Josh McCown, Larry Fitzgerald
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