Top 10 Draft Classes of 2006
Second-round pick Marcus McNeill was a strong candidate for rookie of the year. The massive young left tackle should have a brilliant career. First-round pick and cornerback Antonio Cromartie is still learning the game but seems to have a bright future.
No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams was a bit of a disappointment with just 4.5 sacks, but he improved as the season progressed. But the Texans made up for it in the second round by taking DeMeco Ryans (pictured), who ended up as the defensive rookie of the year. They also took productive tight end Owen Daniels in the fourth round and running back Wali Lundy in the sixth.
Lots of people shook their head when the Patriots let Adam Vinatieri go in free agency. New England filled the vacancy by taking Stephen Gostkowsi in the fourth round and he was outstanding in both the regular season and playoffs, showing much more range than Vinatieri. First-round pick Laurence Maroney was outstanding in the backfield and as a kick returner and third-round pick Dave Thomas is a very promising tight end.
First-round pick Joseph Addai was a huge contributor to Indy's championship run. The speedy running back led all rookies with 1,081 yards rushing and was outstanding in the Super Bowl. The Colts also selected starting safety Antoine Bethea in the sixth round.
Vince Young wasn't an obvious pick at No. 3 overall, so give the Titans credit for taking the eventual offensive rookie of the year over other quarterback prospects. They also picked promising linebacker Stephen Tulloch and cornerback Cortland Finnegan on the draft's second day.
The Broncos' marquee pick was QB Jay Cutler in the first round, and he should be very good. But they made their mark with two fourth-round picks: WR Brandon Marshall, who has drawn comparisons to Randy Moss, and DE Elvis Dumervil (8.5 sacks).
First-round pick and linebacker A.J. Hawk (pictured) was solid and second-round pick Greg Jennings was a very good wide receiver when healthy. But the key to the Packers' draft was offensive linemen Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz and Tony Moll, who did a better job than expected protecting Brett Favre.
The Jets secured the future of their offensive line by taking left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson (60) and center Nick Mangold (74) in the first round. Both started 16 games and showed improvement throughout the year. And New York selected shifty running back Leon Washington in the fourth round, and possibly its QB of the future, Kellen Clemens, in the second round.
The Bears addressed a glaring weakness, punt returns, by taking Devin Hester in the second round. Hester went on to set the NFL record for touchdown returns and ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown in the Super Bowl. Chicago also took starting safety Danieal Manning and defensive end Mark Anderson, who had 12 sacks in 2006.
The Saints benefited from the Texans taking Mario Williams and letting Reggie Bush (25) fall to No. 2. But they also made the single best pick of the draft, wide receiver Marques Colston (12) in the seventh round. And they picked their starting right guard, Jahri Evans, in the fourth round.