It's too early to claim that that the 2006 NFL draft class was the best ever, but there's little doubting that perhaps no draft has had as many players make an immediate impact as the Class of 2006.
In an ordinary year, Cedric Griffin could be viewed as in the running for the Rookie of Year Award, but with the talent running so deep, he's been lost in the shuffle. Take a look around the league and see how many teams have been affected by impressive rookies:
Three teams – the Titans, Cardinals and Broncos – turned their offenses over to rookie quarterbacks Vince Young, Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler. The Falcons got a running back of the future in Jerrious Norwood on the third round. The Ravens love nose tackle Haloti Ngata. The Panthers got a gamebreaker in RB DeAngelo Williams, while the Bears got a defensive starter in Danieal Manning. Aside from Cutler, the Broncos added offensive help in TE Tony Scheffler and WR Brandon Marshall.
The linebackers were also heard from in 2006. The Lions got a good one in LB Ernie Sims, the Packers may have got the best one in A.J. Hawk. Nobody had more tackles than the Texans' DeMeco Ryans. The Cowboys get plenty of use out of Bobby Carpenter.
Defensive end was another hot position, which started with first overall pick Mario Williams. The Browns coaches love Kamerion Wimbley, the Chiefs are excited about Tamba Hali and his future, the Vikings got more than expected from Ray Edwards and the Giants pushed Mathias Kiwanuka into a starting role due to injuries.
Looking for a running back? The first round saw Reggie Bush, DeAngelo Williams, Joseph Addai and Laurence Maroney. That wasn't all, as the draft produced Maurice Jones-Drew on the second round and Norwood on the third round. The Jets needed offensive line help and got two starters in Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson. And for our money, the rookie of the year was taken with the 57th pick when the Bears took versatile Devin Hester.
The Vikings have high hopes for players like Griffin, Edwards, Tarvaris Jackson and Greenway, believing that their 2006 may have produced as many as four or five starters, but a look around the league shows that many other teams can boast the same, if not more. The 2006 draft may not be viewed by history as the greatest draft ever, but as far as immediate impact goes, it's hard to dispute the production that came to the NFL on the last weekend of April. The Class of 2007 has a lot to live up to.
Draft 2006: Best Draft Ever?
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