Every single NFL draft is filled with countless examples of 'what if?'
What if Tom Brady was selected before the New England Patriots picked in the sixth round? What if the San Francisco 49ers drafted Aaron Rodgers over Alex Smith? The list goes on and on. Now, you can add one more scenario to the never-ending list, and this one is likely to sting for Jacksonville Jaguars fans.
On Twitter on Saturday night, former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive lineman Calais Campbell, who is one of the greatest and most beloved figures in the team's recent history, revealed he expected to be drafted by Jacksonville in 2008. Instead, Campbell was left out of the first round as he witnessed the Jaguars make a trade up for defensive end Derrick Harvey.
"Jacksonville called me the night before the draft and told me they were drafting me at 25 with their first-round pick," Campbell tweeted. "I was so mad when they traded up to get Derrick Harvey! But it all worked out. I’ve had a dream of a career! Only thing left to do is get that Super Bowl Ring!!!"
The All-Pro lineman went on to eventually sign with Jacksonville almost 10 years later, but trading up for Harvey over standing pat and selecting Campbell came back to bite the Jaguars in a massive way.
Jacksonville traded up to No. 8, giving the Ravens their first-round pick, two third-round selections, and fourth-round selection (No. 26, 71, 89, 125). The Ravens ended up using the draft ammo to move from No. 26 to No. 18 to select Joe Flacco, while the Houston Texans selected left tackle Duane Brown at No. 26, two picks that worked out for each team.
But the Jaguars and Harvey? That went in the complete opposite direction. The University of Florida defensive end played only three seasons for the Jaguars, starting 32 games and recording just 92 tackles, eight sacks, 13 tackles for loss, and one forced fumble. Today, Harvey is regarded as one of the biggest draft busts in Jaguars' history.
Campell went on to be drafted by the Arizona Cardinals with the No. 50 overall pick and the rest was history. Campbell spent nine years in Arizona, collecting 56.5 sacks, 107 tackles for loss, eight forced fumbles, and earning two Pro Bowl trips.
The Jaguars went on to partially amend their mistake from 2008 when they signed Campbell as a free agent in 2017. Campbell spent three years with the team, becoming one of the most well-respected players in the franchise's history and making the Pro Bowl three times, as well as finding himself on the first-team All-Pro squad in 2017.
In three seasons with Jacksonville, Campbell played in 48 regular season games and three postseason games and recorded 31.5 sacks, 44 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries. Campbell's 31.5 sacks rank fourth in the franchise's history.
In March, the Jaguars traded Campbell to the Ravens for a 2020 fifth-round pick for cap relief. Coincidentally, Campbell ended up on the squad that the Jaguars traded up with in 2008.
Who knows how the franchise's direction would have changed if they drafted Campbell in 2008 instead of trading up for Harvey, but it is hard to believe that Campbell wouldn't have been a valuable and productive piece to the organization, just as he was in Arizona.