Where would Troy Polamalu be drafted if we knew what we know today?

Class of 2020 member Troy Polamalu reacts during his Professional Football HOF enshrinement ceremonies at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Class of 2020 member Troy Polamalu reacts during his Professional Football HOF enshrinement ceremonies at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to land Troy Polamalu with the 16th overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, but here’s where he would go if we knew what we know today. 

After Troy Polamalu’s Hall of Fame speech, there wasn’t a dry eye in Canton. The legendary safety delivered a spot-on message straight from the heart and one that really resonated with Pittsburgh Steelers fans.

One of the NFL’s most influential players embodies exactly what it meant to be a Pittsburgh Steeler, and he let his play do the talking for him. After a historic NFL career that included 4 first-team All-Pro honors, 8 Pro Bowls, Defensive Player of the Year honors, and 2 Super Bowl wins, it’s interesting to look back on his career and think about where he would have gone in the 2003 NFL Draft if we knew then what we knew now.

Though often injured, Polamalu’s career was nothing short of magnificent. His violent and scrappy play left no regard for his own body – instead, using it as an instrument to simply help the Steelers win football games. This football legend clearly changed the game and there was no other quite like him. Looking back on his Hall of Fame career, where would Polamalu have gone in a 2003 re-draft?

Where would Troy Polamalu go in a 2003 NFL re-draft?

The 2003 draft class isn’t exactly one that will go down in history. It wasn’t loaded with elite quarterback prospects, and many of the players drafted in the first round had very average NFL careers (which makes passing on Polamalu an even bigger kick in the pants to some of the teams before him).

While plenty of teams were no doubt satisfied with the performances they received out of the player they took in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft, I can make a case that Troy Polamalu would have been a top-two overall pick, if we knew then what we know now.

Let’s start with the players drafted ahead of him in 2003. Quarterback and former college roommate, Carson Palmer was the first overall pick that year. While nobody is denying that quarterbacks make a bigger difference than any other position on the field, perhaps the Cincinnati Bengals would have taken a player that could have gone down as the best in their history over the quarterback who they would only have for seven seasons.

After Palmer, there were several huge disappointments like WR Charles Rodgers, DT Dewayne Robertson, and DT Johnathan Sullivan. However, there were also some pretty spectacular players who were drafted in the first round like WR Andre Johnson, OT Jordan Gross, EDGE Terrell Suggs, and CB Terrance Newman.

While we could argue that offensive tackle and edge defender are typically more important than most NFL safeties, there’s not a chance Troy Polamalu gets taken after any of these players in an NFL re-draft.

Now let’s look at some of the most notable players to be drafted after Polamalu. Players like RB Larry Johnson, CB Nnamdi Asomugha, and TE Dallas Clark certainly had good enough careers to be drafted much higher than they were, but I’m very confident none of these names would be taken above Polamalu in a re-draft. Likewise, the best of the rest in the following rounds like TE Jason Witten, WR Anquan Boldin, CB Rashean Mathis, and teammate Ike Taylor would have skyrocketed their draft status in a re-draft, but Polamalu still takes the cake.

However, one of the most notable players of the entire 2003 class wasn’t even drafted: Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Tony Romo. Of this entire group, he’s the only player I see being taken over Polamalu in an NFL re-draft. Though Romo was never considered the very best quarterback in the league, he was clearly better than Palmer and a great quarterback simply makes a bigger impact on the field than even the best non-quarterbacks.

Related Story. Questions surround Steelers James Washington’s trade request. light

It isn’t often that you could make the case for a safety being a top-two overall pick in an NFL re-draft, but Troy Polamalu would likely be the second player taken back in 2003 if we knew then what we know now. I’m just thankful the Steelers traded up to the 16th overall pick to secure what would be one of the best players in the history of the franchise.