The Steelers got the best player in the draft with the 11th overall pick back in 2004. Here’s why Ben Roethlisberger goes first in recent re-draft.
It’s always fun to take a look back in time and think about how things would be different if you could change your pick in the NFL Draft. When it comes to the 2004 Draft, there is nothing the Steelers would change about their first-round pick.
After Eli Manning was selected with the first overall pick to the San Diego Chargers and Philip Rivers was taken with the fourth pick by the Giants, the teams swapped quarterbacks in addition to some draft capital. But neither of these long-time, Pro Bowl NFL quarterbacks would be selected ahead of Ben Roethlisberger in a 2004 NFL re-draft.
Bleacher Report recently wrote an article re-drafting the entire first round of the 2004 NFL Draft. Unsurprisingly, Roethlisberger was taken by the Chargers with the first overall pick. Here’s some of what Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon had to say about the selection:
"Former San Diego Chargers general manager A.J. Smith continues to insist he has no regrets over drafting Eli Manning—who didn’t want to play in San Diego—and flipping him to the New York Giants for Philip Rivers. So it’s still easy to see the Bolts doing that or simply taking Rivers, considering all of the success they had with him, but we don’t really have to cross that bridge because Ben Roethlisberger has had a better career than both… He’s the only player from this draft class who has been a Pro Bowler more than five times and won a Super Bowl. He took the Steelers to three Super Bowls in his first seven seasons. And while he’s never been a Super Bowl MVP like Manning, his consistent success trumps Eli’s flashes in the pan."
The Chargers certainly don’t regret having a quarterback like Philip Rivers for the last 16 years, but the opportunity to land a player like Ben Roethlisberger would be too tempting to pass up.
Though bringing in Ben in a redraft doesn’t necessarily secure the Chargers a Super Bowl victory, it makes then a competitive team year in and year out.
In the re-draft, Eli Manning ended up going second overall to the Raiders, while Rivers winds up in his original draft spot at pick number four with the New York Giants. Future Hall of Fame receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, gets drafted by the same Arizona Cardinals team who took him with the third overall pick so many seasons ago.
Ben wasn’t the only Steelers player to improve his draft stock in the 2004 re-draft. Super Bowl stud Willie Parker elevated his status from a former undrafted free agent to the 11th overall pick in the draft – landing with Pittsburgh. With Roethlisberger well out of reach, the Steelers turn to one of their best running backs in franchise history and a player who recorded the longest run in the history of the Super Bowl.
For a three-year span from 2005-2007, Parker averaged over 1,300 yards and made two Pro Bowls. Though his career lasted just six seasons, Pittsburgh would love to get him all over again.
Like Troy Polamalu going 4th overall in a 2003 NFL re-draft, this is a scenario that we, fortunately, don’t have to live out. Ben Roethlisberger was the most valuable player to come out of the 2004 NFL Draft, and the Steelers wouldn’t have it any other way.