NFL.com Best First Round Picks Since 2000

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Elliot Harrison of NFL.com recently published an article in which he ranked the top 25 first round picks since the year 2000. Harrison writes, in introducing his list:

Since 2000, the talent dispersal has been spread pretty evenly through the 30 odd picks in the first round, although last year's best might have been the top guy selected: Cam Newton. Yet, he doesn't make the cut as one of the 25 best first-round picks of Y2K. He doesn't have the skins on the wall yet. Matt Ryan, Logan Mankins and CJ2K -- all honorable mentions -- didn't make it either. So who did?

Of course, the list has the obvious choices, like the top ranked Aaron Rodgers, the 24th selection in the 2005 draft, and LaDainian Tomlinson, who comes in second after being the fifth overall pick in 2001.

Of course, the pick that would interest all of us, as Miami Dolphins fans, is the selection of Jake Long. As Harrison wrote in his introduction, Matt Ryan, who many Dolphins fans say the team should have taken over Long, is an honorable mention for the list, but does not crack the top 25. But, did Long?

Of course he did.

Long comes in as the 20th best first round selection since 2000. Selected first overall in the 2008 draft, Harrison writes of picking Long:

A lot of Dolphins fans wish the team would have taken Matt Ryan first overall in 2008. Why? So that they too could be one and done in the playoffs? Ryan is a terrific player, no question, but he's not nearly as good at his position as Long is at his. Along with Joe Thomas, Long is the best in the game. He's made the Pro Bowl every year he's been in the league and can completely neutralize a pass rusher.

In fact, Harrison also has the Dolphins picking Jake Long first overall in a re-do of the 2008 draft. Writing about that choice, Harrison states:

1. Miami Dolphins
Actual pick: Jake Long
Do-over pick: Jake Long

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Yes, Miami still needs a QB. Is Matt Ryan worthy of a No. 1 overall pick? Is he of John Elway, Troy Aikman and Peyton Manning ilk? No. Meanwhile, Long has been nothing but an All-Pro in Miami. Good pick.

Just for arguments sake, Harrison still has Ryan going to the Atlanta Falcons with the third pick:

3. Atlanta Falcons

Actual pick: Matt Ryan
Do-over pick: Matt Ryan

The jury is out on whether Ryan was worth the third overall pick in the draft. First round? Easily. But the third pick overall? That's tough. Here's the deal: The Falcons needed to put the Michael Vick era behind them quickly. Joey Harrington could not be the face of the franchise. Therefore, even though he hasn't won a playoff game, Ryan has been good enough to take in this spot and be happy about it. Now he just needs to take the next step as a quarterback.

Which brings us to the poll. Which player would you take if you could re-do the 2008 draft, Jake Long or Matt Ryan?

[Photo credit: Jason DeCrow/Associated Press]

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