1997 Draft Redo - What Should've Happened
Arizona State QB Jake Plummer
Arizona State QB Jake Plummer
Posted Apr 23, 2009

What should each team have done in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft?

Draft Redo ... 1997

How should the drafts have gone?

By Pete Fiutak 

2006 Draft Redo | 2005 Draft Redo | 2004 Draft Redo | 2003 Draft Redo
2002 Draft Redo | 2001 Draft Redo | 2000 Draft Redo | 1999 Draft Redo
1998 Draft Redo | 1997 Draft Redo | 1996 Draft Redo | 1995 Draft Redo  
1994 Draft Redo | 1993 Draft Redo | 1992 Draft Redo | 1991 Draft Redo
1990 Draft Redo | 1989 Draft Redo

Here's a look at past NFL drafts looking to see what each team needed, who they all took in the first round, and in hindsight, who should've gone based on how their pro careers turned out (forgetting about proper coaching and other circumstances).

If each team could draft knowing what we all know now and not taking future drafts into account, this is how the first round should've gone. There were 30 picks in the first round of the 1997 draft and as you'll notice, that talent falls off the map in a real hurry.

Here's the ruling on the Kurt Warner debate. While he was eligible for the 1994 draft, he's not drafted here because he needed the seasoning of the Arena League and NFL Europe to become the player that lit up the NFL. He joined the Rams in 1997 and considering he was a free-agent, but if he were eligible, he'd have been a top five pick. 

Who Went

How the Draft Should've Gone

1. St. Louis Rams
Orlando Pace, OT Ohio State

OT Orlando Pace (1st), Ohio State
St. Louis Rams

Is it possible Pace is having one of the quietest Hall-of-Fame careers in recent NFL history? He turned into a largely unnoticed cog for one of the league's greatest offensive machines.

2. Oakland Raiders
Darrell Russell, DT USC

RB Corey Dillon (2nd), Washington
Cincinnati Bengals

With Napoleon Kaufman and Harvey Williams leading the Raider backfield, Oakland could've used an every down back like Dillon. The Rams would've given strong consideration to making Dillon the number one pick. Priest Holmes is a consideration, but Dillon was a superstar right away.

3. Seattle Seahawks
Shawn Springs, CB Ohio State

TE Tony Gonzalez, (1st) California
Kansas City Chiefs

Gonzalez became the NFL's premier tight end and would've been exactly what the Seahawks needed. Springs became a good player, but still was an disappointment at the third pick considering how great he was in college. 

4. Baltimore Ravens
Peter Boulware, DE Florida State

DE Peter Boulware, (1st) Florida State
Baltimore Ravens

Becoming a star sackmaster isn't bad for a player the Ravens could never figure out where to play. Is he a defensive end or a linebacker? It doesn't matter as Boulware, at the time, was worth the fourth pick even with Walter Jones still on the board.

5. Detroit Lions
Bryant Westbrook, CB Texas

OT Walter Jones (1st), Florida State
Seattle Seahawks

He'd never show up to training camp and he'd whine about his contract, but Walter Jones would be a Pro Bowl rock for a decade.

6. Seattle Seahawks
Walter Jones, OT Florida State

RB Priest Holmes (undrafted), Texas

Jones has carved out a quietly productive Pro Bowl career as a year-in-and-year-out starter while growing into one of the league's premier pass blockers. Would Holmes be the Holmes is was for Kansas City? It's worth taking the chance over Tiki Barber.

7. New York Giants
Ike Hilliard, WR Florida

QB Jake Plummer (2nd), Arizona State
Arizona Cardinals

The Giants desperately needed a receiver and Hilliard sort of worked out becoming a decent player when healthy. Plummer would take his lumps, but with Danny Kanell and Danger Dave Brown under center for the 1996 Giants, he would've been a necessity.

8. New York Jets
James Farrior, LB Virginia

DT Trevor Pryce (1st), Clemson
Denver Broncos

The 1-15 Jets had one of the leagues worst run defenses, so even with Tiki Barber still on the board, Pryce would be the better immediate fit.

9. Arizona Cardinals
Tom Knight, CB Iowa

RB Tiki Barber (2nd), Virginia
New York Giants

Critics were concerned about Knight's injured knee coming out of college. As it turned out, he just wasn't the player the Cards thought he'd be. With such dignitaries as LeShon Johnson and Leeland McElroy in the backfield, Barber would've been the every down back Arizona could've used.

10. New Orleans Saints
Chris Naeole, OG Colorado

OG Chris Naeole (1st), Colorado
New Orleans Saints

Mike Ditka took a lot of heat for taking Naeole, but he turned out to be right. The Colorado star had a injury-plagued rookie year, then turned into a rock-solid starter.

11. Atlanta Falcons
Michael Booker, DB Nebraska

RB Warrick Dunn (1st), Florida State
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jamal Anderson, Craig Heyward and Richard Huntley gave the Falcons a large and powerful backfield. Dunn hasn't been the great back many have said he is, but he'd have been a fabulous change of pace out of this backfield getting to the Falcons a few years early.

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Warrick Dunn, RB Florida State

CB Sam Madison (2nd), Louisville
Miami Dolphins

Madison was one of the NFL's premier ball-hawking corners and would've worked well for a Tampa pass defense that was on the verge of become one of the league's elite.

13. Kansas City Chiefs
Tony Gonzalez, TE California

OT Tarik Glenn (1st), California
Indianapolis Colts

With a premium on longevity, Glenn's consistent starting ability makes him an attractive pick. The Chiefs didn't exactly need an offensive tackle, but Marty Schottenheimer was never afraid of stockpiling at a position. He probably should've gone higher.

14. Cincinnati Bengals
Reinard Wilson, DE Florida State

LB Jamie Sharper (2nd), Virginia
Baltimore Ravens

Wilson just never worked out while Sharper became a strong player in the Raven defense.

15. Miami Dolphins
Yatil Green, WR Miami

DB Ronde Barber (3rd), Virginia
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Green's situation was one of the cruelest draft fates ever to hit a player and team. Wanting to give Dan Marino a speedy weapon for one last shot at a Super Bowl, the Hurricane star seemed to be a perfect fit before a training camp knee injury knocked him out before another ended his career. Barber would become a good defensive back and would've worked out well for the Dolphins.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Reidel Anthony, WR Florida

DB Darren Sharper (2nd), William & Mary
Green Bay Packers

Anthony was considered the best Gator pro receiver prospect by just about everyone and it was widely thought to be a shock when the Giants chose Ike Hilliard instead. The tally after the 2002 season? Hilliard made 259 catches for 3,585 yards and 21 touchdowns while Anthony grabbed 144 passes for 1,846 yards and 15 scores. It's safe to say that neither lived up to expectations, and Sharper would've been the better pick for the rising Tampa D.

17. Washington Redskins
Kenard Lang, DE Miami

DE Marcellus Wiley (2nd), Columbia
Buffalo Bills

Wiley was one of the more interesting projects coming out of the 1997 draft and turned into a top sacker. He probably should've gone higher than this. The Skins were 30th in the league against the run in 1996 and needed a player to stuff the inside. 

18. Houston Oilers
Kenny Holmes, DE Miami

DE Kenny Holmes (1st), Miami
Houston Oilers

Holmes never exactly set the world on fire and probably wasn't worth the 18th pick in the draft, but he was just good enough to not to take a chance on someone else. Houston likely wouldn't have wanted to wait for Bertrand Berry to come around.

19. Indianapolis Colts
Tarik Glenn, OT California

LB Dexter Coakley (3rd), Appalachian State
Dallas Cowboys

Few players were more fun to watch than Coakley who made play after play after play. The Colt defense was starting to turn soft and could've used a playmaker like him.

20. Minnesota Vikings
Dwayne Rudd, LB Alabama

CB Shawn Springs (1st), Ohio State
Seattle Seahawks

Was Rudd not good enough or could Dennis Green and his staff not handle talent on defense? Shawn Springs might have been a huge disappointment considering he was taken at the three, but he would've given the struggling Viking D a few good years.

21. Jacksonville Jaguars
Renaldo Wynn, DE Notre Dame 

CB Bryant Westbrook (1st), Texas 
Detroit Lions

It's possible to consider taking Wynn again, but the Jaguar secondary needed help and Westbrook would've been a more productive pick, at least for a little while, if he had actually lasted this long in the redraft. 

22. Dallas Cowboys
David LaFleur, TE LSU

RB Duce Staley (3rd), South Carolina
Philadelphia Eagles 

Troy Aikman hand picked LaFleur. Aikman may be a heck of an announcer, but he stunk as a player personnel man. The Cowboys were using Sherman Williams and a way over-the-hill Herschel Walker to backup Emmitt Smith and while Staley might not be able to stay healthy as a number one back, he'd sure have been a great help to keep the superstar fresh.

23. Buffalo Bills
Antowain Smith, RB Houston

DT Darrell Russell (1st), USC
Oakland Raiders

Russell  had more than his share of problems on and off the field, but he would've been a huge upgrade, at least for a little while, to the old Buffalo line. 

24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Chad Scott, CB Maryland

DB Chad Scott (1st), Maryland
Pittsburgh Steelers

It would take a while for Scott to be productive on a consistent basis and he was a bit too burnable, but he was a decent defender in his eight year Steeler career..

25. Philadelphia Eagles
Jon Harris, DE Virginia

DE Renaldo Wynn (1st), Notre Dame
Jacksonville Jaguars

Harris was a major bust keeping with a recent trend of bad Eagle picks. Wynn wouldn't be a star, but he would've been a better immediate answer to Philadelphia's defensive end problem.

26. San Francisco 49ers
Jim Druckenmiller, QB Virginia Tech

RB Antowain Smith (1st), Houston
Buffalo Bills

Druckenmiller was supposed to be the next great 49er quarterback learning from Steve Young until the lefty was ready to retire. While Druckenmiller had a cannon of an arm, he wasn't close to fitting the profile of the mobile quarterback that San Francisco loves so much and it should say something about how bad he was that he didn't catch on somewhere else. The Niner running game could've used a bit of a boost.

27. Carolina Panthers
Rae Carruth, WR Colorado

WR Ike Hilliard (1st), Florida
Florida Gators

In the major understatement category, let's just say the Rae Carruth pick didn't work out. The Panthers needed a receiver and Hilliard, as average as turned out to be, would be the right pick.

28. Denver Broncos
Trevor Pryce, DE Clemson

WR Marcus Robinson (4th), South Carolina
Chicago Bears

Robinson couldn't stay healthy for more than ten minutes, but he was one of the league's better receivers when he was right. For those few games he'd play in, he'd have been a sensational weapon for the Broncos.

29. New England Patriots
Chris Canty, CB Kansas State

OG Ross Verba (1st), Iowa
Green Bay Packers

Verba's nothing sensational, but he turned into a consistent enough player for a New England O line in need of some spare parts.

30. Green Bay Packers
Ross Verba, OG Iowa

DE Kenard Lang (1st), Miami
Washington Redskins

The Packers needed help for a line that would get old very quickly. Lang would be the best option.