Mired in the throes of a 3-12-1 campaign as a rookie head coach with the New York Giants, Bill Parcells occasionally leaned on an unlikely mentor ... Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry.
A friend of the Mara family (Parcells' employers), Landry hit the Young Tuna with a few gifts of football wisdom. One that stuck with Parcells was the idea of a three-year plan in terms of how to evaluate young players. If a player hadn't shown much improvement by his third season, it was time to move on. Or, in business school vernacular, Don't throw good money after bad. Parcells would work off this axiom, while surely passing it on to his coaching descendants. You know, guys like Bill Belichick.
Three years is still the standard, though first-round picks are sure to get the benefit of the full 36 months. Well, the Class of 2014 has had that time frame to show what it can do, which makes this a perfect time to re-evaluate the pecking order from three years ago. If we were to "redo" the 2014 NFL Draft, how would teams change their picks? Which Day 2 picks would climb into Day 1? What would the Texans do in that top spot? The conjecture could go on for hours. Or 32 "new" picks, which is precisely what we did below, starting with ...
1) Texans: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Original pick: Jadeveon Clowney, DE/OLB, South Carolina.
Carr was drafted: Round 2, No. 36 overall by the Raiders.
The Texans get their long-awaited quarterback without having to plunge into the waters of Osweiler, raise any barns with the Amish rifle or stomach any Ryan Mallett sideline pouting. Derek Carr posted a passer rating nearly 25 points higher than Osweiler's last season.
2) Rams: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Original pick: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn.
Donald was drafted: Round 1, No. 13 overall by the Rams.
Carr going first overall is not indicative of him being the best player in the draft. Rather, it represents the value of the quarterback position. Aaron Donald, arguably the top player in the 2014 class, goes second to the team that originally drafted him, but not in this spot.
3) Jaguars: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Original pick: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF.
Mack was drafted: Round 1, No. 5 overall by the Raiders.
The Jaguars finally obtain something almost as rare in Jacksonville as a win ... a pass rusher. Khalil Mack went fifth overall in 2014, but you could make the case he should have gone first. In case you missed "NFL Honors" night in February, Mack won Defensive Player of the Year.
4) Bills: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
Original pick: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson.
Beckham was drafted: Round 1, No. 12 overall by the Giants.
The Bills took Sammy Watkins in the cleanup spot three years ago. He's been fantastic when healthy, but that's not enough to best Odell Beckham Jr., who became a top-flght receiver right out of the gate.
5) Raiders: Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State
Original pick: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo.
Freeman was drafted: Round 4, No. 103 overall by the Falcons.
Is fifth a smidge high for a running back? Sure. But oh would the Raiders be better with a player like Freeman, who is perhaps just a shade under David Johnson, Le'Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott. Oakland still needs an RB. Las Vegas, too.
6) Falcons: Jadeveon Clowney, DE/OLB, South Carolina
Original pick: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M.
Clowney was drafted: Round 1, No. 1 overall by the Texans.
The real No. 1 overal pick makes his way to Atlanta, where the Falcons desperately needed a pass rusher in 2014 and '15, and could've used pressure off the edge in Super Bowl LI. Vic Beasley was spectacular last year, but why not have him AND Clowney?
7) Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Original pick: Evans.
Not changing this pick -- no way. Mike Evans has been a blessing for the Bucs since arriving seventh overall out of College Station. The guy has snagged 238 passes in three seasons as one of the top possession targets in pro football.
8) Browns: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
Original pick: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State.
Mosley was drafted: Round 1, No. 17 overall by the Ravens.
Giving the Browns both a position of need as well as a player who's as talented as anyone coming up in this redo of the 2014 draft. He's already made two Pro Bowls in just three seasons, and taking him away from a division opponent (the Ravens) makes this more fun.
9) Vikings: Anthony Barr, OLB, Vikings
Original pick: Barr.
Like the Bucs, the Vikings are keeping their original pick. And why not? Anthony Barr has been an absolute stud for Mike Zimmer's defense. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better outside 'backer in a 4-3 system than this former UCLA standout.
10) Lions: Zack Martin, G, Notre Dame
Original pick: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina.
Martin was drafted: Round 1, No. 16 overall by the Cowboys.
Let's put it this way: Neither Donald nor Mack are better players than Zack Martin. So don't misunderstand his going 10th here to the Lions. In fact, guards almost never go top-10. Drafting Martin would've meant the Lions would not have had to spend big money on free agent T.J. Lang.
11) Titans: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
Original pick: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan.
Landry was drafted: Round 2, No. 63 overall by the Dolphins.
Landry would have given the Titans' offense, and specifically Marcus Mariota, that perfect mid-range target. Landry could turn Mariota's accurate short-range throws into first downs, while being a better version of Kendall Wright.
12) Giants: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Original pick: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
Lewan was drafted: Round 1, No. 11 overall by the Titans.
If you've seen Ereck Flowers play, or maybe just the right side of the Giants' offensive line, you know Taylor Lewan would be a heck of an addition. He could play either LT or RT for Big Blue, bringing some much-needed nasty to the offensive side of the ball. Eli Manning doesn't do nasty.
13) Rams: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Original pick: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh.
Cooks was drafted: Round 1, No. 20 overall by the Saints.
Giving the Rams what's ailed them since Isaac Bruce and Tory Holt were putting up Tecmo Super Bowl numbers ... a wide receiver.
14) Bears: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Original pick: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech.
Shazier was drafted: Round 1, No. 15 overall by the Steelers.
Why not another fly-around-the-field-and-make-plays linebacker who wears 50 for the Bears? Ryan Shazier might be a different style player than the legendary Mike Singletary, but pairing him with Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan would make that Chicago defense special (more than the offense, that's for damn sure).
15) Steelers: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Original pick: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State.
Watkins was drafted: Round 1, No. 4 overall by the Bills.
Watkins might have an injury history, but he has been dynamic when right. With Mosley and Shazier off the board, the Steelers add to their arsenal so that they don't have to take Martavis Bryant later in this draft.
16) Cowboys: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Original pick: Zack Martin, G, Notre Dame.
Clinton-Dix was drafted: Round 1, No. 21 overall by the Packers.
The Cowboys haven't owned a pair of solid safeties since they had Darren Woodson and Roy Williams back in 2003. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Barry Church together might've made a difference in last year's Divisional Round loss to the Packers. Of course, Church is now gone, so Dallas could really use Clinton-Dix.
17) Ravens: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Original pick: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama.
Robinson was drafted: Round 2, No. 61 overall by the Jaguars.
Despite signing Mike Wallace, and drafting Breshad Perriman two years ago, the Ravens still need a wide receiver. Robinson would give Joe Flacco a pass catcher who can run the whole route tree. Flacco would provide Robinson with more catchable balls and fewer red-zone interceptions than the QB he currently plays with in Jacksonville. You see? It's a win-win.
18) Jets: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Original pick: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville.
Tuitt was drafted: Round 2, No. 46 overall by the Steelers.
Really wanted to give the Jets a quarterback, but there was no way in this do-over that Carr would fall this far. Blake Bortles' young career doesn't merit a pick this high. Stephon Tuitt, however, has been solid, and would mitigate the 2016 free agency departure of Damon "Snacks" Harrison.
19) Dolphins: Trai Turner, G, LSU
Original pick: Ja'Wuan James, OT, Tennessee.
Turner was drafted: Round 3, No. 92 overall by the Panthers.
The Dolphins have done much to improve their offensive line since 2014, but drafting Trai Turner would have filled the talent void they currently have at guard. Turner is a two-time Pro Bowler, who can play tackle and also keep guys off Ryan Tannehill's arse.
20) Saints: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Original pick: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State.
Verrett was drafted: Round 1, No. 25 by the Chargers.
Quite simply the most talented corner in the draft. Jason Verrett has been brilliant, with his only drawback being missed time due to injury. Heading into 2017, with Drew Brees still playing at a high level, and the defense getting (slightly) better, how great would it be to have an in-his-prime Verrett manning one of the CB spots? Especially considering the quality of the other quarterbacks in the NFC South.
21) Packers: Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
Original pick: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama.
Bucannon was drafted: Round 1, No. 27 overall by the Cardinals.
Bucannon's a quasi-linebacker who has done much for Bruce Arians' defense. You gotta think Dom Capers would put him to good use in Green Bay. Capers already has capitalized on the Swiss Army Knife abilities of Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews and Micah Hyde. Add Bucannon to that cheese plate.
22) Browns: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
Original pick: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M.
Garoppolo was drafted: Round 2, No. 62 overall by the Patriots.
If you thought for a second that Jimmy Garoppolo wasn't going to the Browns in our 2014 draft redo, then you're probably also one of those people who thought J.J. Abrams wasn't going to kill off Han Solo in that "Star Wars" movie. Some things are too obvious. Well, kind of like Cleveland's demand for a quarterback every year since 1999.
23) Chiefs: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Original pick: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn.
Matthews was drafted: Round 2, No. 42 overall by the Eagles.
Remember every sportscasters' favorite stat two years ago? The one about Chiefs wide receivers not scoring a single touchdown all year? Well, Matthews would've changed that dynamic. And while he is not perfect (SEE: drops, many), every quality player from this point on has some flaw.
24) Bengals: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Original pick: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State.
Matthews was drafted: Round 1, No. 6 overall by the Falcons.
So the Bengals could use offensive line help badly right now. But this selection is as much about Jake Matthews' upside as it is the huge holes Cincy has up front. Matthews has been a viable tackle up to this point and certainly would help Andy Dalton's cause.
25) Chargers: Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
Original pick: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU.
Adams was drafted: Round 2, No. 53 overall by the Packers.
Philip Rivers has been trying to carry the Chargers to the playoffs the last couple years despite having to throw footballs to CFL rejects, never-beens and 50-year-old tight ends. If only Keenan Allen could stay healthy. That's why Davante Adams, who has really improved, becomes a Charger in this Draft 2.0. Hopefully his hands come with him.
26) Eagles: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
Original pick: Marcus Smith, LB, Louisville.
Jernigan was drafted: Round 2, No. 48 overall by the Ravens.
Call this a practical move for the Eagles -- drafting Timmy Jernigan in 2014 to fill out the interior of the defensive line and avoid having to trade for a DT later ... namely, Timmy Jernigan. The Ravens-Eagles deal certainly strengthens Jim Schwartz's defensive line now, but Jernigan could've also bolstered the oft-exhausted D-line during the Chip Kelly era.
27) Cardinals: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
Original pick: Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State.
Ford was drafted: Round 1, No. 23 overall by the Chiefs.
General Manager Steve Keim has been swiping right on pass rushers for quite some time now, from drafting Markus Golden (Round 2, 2015 draft), to signing Dwight Freeney (October 2015), to trading for Chandler Jones (March 2016). In Ford, the Cardinals receive a slow-to-develop edge rusher who finally blossomed in 2016.
28) Panthers: Trent Murphy, DE/OLB, Stanford
Original pick: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State.
Murphy was drafted: Round 2, No. 47 overall by the Redskins.
Different pick here -- as in, maybe not the name you were expecting. But Murphy was sneaky good in 2016, and would make life a little harder for NFC South foe Matt Ryan. Julio Jones doesn't catch 300 yards' worth of balls if the Carolina secondary doesn't have to hold the fort forever.
29) Patriots: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Original pick: Dominique Easley, DT, Florida.
Ebron was drafted: Round 1, No. 10 overall by the Lions.
You think Bill Belichick would find something to do with another large, talented tight end? Eric Ebron has not always warmed Lions fans' hearts, but he took major steps forward last season by catching 61 passes for 711 yards in just 13 games.
30) 49ers: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Original pick: Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois.
Roby was drafted: Round 1, No. 31 overall by the Broncos.
New GM John Lynch might want a quarterback, but I'm thinking that a former safety who would knock your block off wouldn't mind employing more building blocks on defense. Roby would instantly make one side of that 49ers defense more formidable.
31) Broncos: Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State
Original pick: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State.
Jackson was drafted: Round 3, No. 81 overall by the Raiders.
Jackson has been dynamite enough in his young career to merit going higher in this do-over. However, it's hard to see more than a couple of guards going in the first round. His addition would upgrade the Broncos' offensive line, while simultaneously hurting the division-rival Raiders' unit. It also would allow John Elway to save the truckload of cash he delivered to Ronald Leary this offseason.
32) Seahawks: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
Original pick (traded to Vikings): Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville.
Moses was drafted: Round 3, No. 66 overall by the Redskins.
Everyone knows the Seahawks could use some workmen at the bookends, which is why Morgan Moses is the pick over Carlos Hyde and Preston Brown. What you might not remember is that this pick was originally traded to the Vikings so that Minnesota could draft Teddy Bridgewater. In this 2014 draft makeover, we lend Russell Wilson a bit of backside cover instead.
Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.
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