31 players have already heard their names called when the New England Patriots were on the clock in the 2005 NFL draft as the reigning world champions. Their pick was a somewhat surprising one: Fresno State offensive tackle Logan Mankins. The Patriots, however, had a plan in mind by moving Mankins to left guard — a position he held throughout his nine-year tenure with the club, and one he played at as high a level as anyone in the league.
All in all, Mankins went on to appear in 130 regular season games and 17 playoff contests as a member of the Patriots. While he never was part of a championship roster — his career falling exactly in the gap between New England’s 2004 and 2014 Super Bowl runs — he earned numerous individual accolades for his outstanding play in New England and later with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mankins was named to seven Pro Bowls and six All-Pro teams and is a member of both the NFL’s and the Patriots’ Team of the 2010s.
Given all his accolade and his high level of play, it is no surprise that Mankins was picked rather early in a recent re-draft by Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport. In fact, only Aaron Rodgers and DeMarcus Ware heard their names called before the Patriots great in this hypothetical scenario: he went to the Cleveland Browns at number three instead of wide receiver Braylon Edwards.
There were a couple of constants in the NFL draft over the first part of the 21st century. The first was the Cleveland Browns having a high draft pick. The second was the team misusing that draft capital. Braylon Edwards was actually one of the better picks the Browns made over the span. He racked up 80 catches for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns in a 2007 Pro Bowl season. But by 2009, Edwards was out of Cleveland.
The Browns struggled up front a big way en route to a 6-10 record in 2005—the team ranked outside the top 20 in both run blocking and pass protection, per Football Outsiders. Picking a guard at No. 3 overall would turn more than a few heads, but over 11 seasons in New England and Tampa Bay, Logan Mankins showed himself to be worth it. He was named to seven Pro Bowls, including five in a row from 2009 to 2013.
Mankins is not the only former Patriot to appear in the first round of this re-draft: quarterback Matt Cassel, who was drafted 230th overall and went on to spend four seasons in New England before getting traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, went 19th overall to the then-St. Louis Rams instead of offensive tackle Alex Barron. The Patriots themselves, meanwhile, were awarded guard Evan Mathis at the end of the first round and with Mankins long gone.
While re-drafting with the power of hindsight is little more than a fun exercise, it does illustrate which players worked out — and the Patriots had quite a few of them in 2005: Mankins and Cassel were also joined by cornerback Ellis Hobbs and offensive Nick Kaczur, both drafted in the third round, as well as fourth-round safety James Sanders. All five went on to start at least 15 games for the team over the years.