Instant Debate

2001 draft re-do: How do you rank Tomlinson, Brees, Vick?

LaDainian Tomlinson's retirement Monday has us reminiscing about the 2001 NFL Draft, and whether L.T. was the best player to emerge from it. His competition? Drew Brees and Michael Vick. If you were re-doing the 2001 draft, in what order would L.T., Brees and Vick come off your board?

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  • Daniel Jeremiah
  • Cut and dried: Brees, L.T., Vick 1-2-3 on my board

In a re-do of the 2001 NFL Draft, I would have Drew Brees ranked as my top player. He is a sure-fire Hall Of Fame quarterback. He will go down in NFL history as one of the league's most accurate passers. Also, his value extends beyond the playing field because of his ability to lead and motivate his teammates.

I would have LaDainian Tomlinson second. He was the top running back in the league for a span of 6-7 years. He was capable of dominating games and was clean off the field. Michael Vick would be third. Vick is a dynamic talent, but his off-field issues would have to factor into the equation.

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  • Charley Casserly
  • Tomlinson's ability to play in any scheme makes this a tough call

I would take Drew Brees No. 1, although you could make a strong argument for LaDainian Tomlinson, who had a more productive career over a longer period of time.

Knowing what I know now about Brees, I would take him for this reason: He is a great player at the most important position on the field. I will say this about L.T., however: He could be an All-Pro in any offense, while Brees might not fit every system.

Michael Vick would be a clear No. 3. Vick does not have the consistency at his position the other two players do.

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  • Charles DavisNFL Network
  • Brees has to go No. 1 in today's QB league

As great as LaDainian Tomlinson was -- he'll always be remembered as one of the best running backs of all time -- he would not be my first selection. With the way that the NFL game is played now, I would have to select QB Drew Brees first. His talent, leadership, will to win and overall capacity to make winning plays push him to the top of my list.

Today's NFL tells us that you can win titles with "RB by committee," but it's doubtful you can win it all without an elite QB.

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  • Elliot Harrison
  • I'd take Richard Seymour (and maybe Steve Hutchinson) over Vick

1) Drew Brees. 2) LaDainian Tomlinson ... 3) Richard Seymour. Then, with the next pick, it would either be Steve Hutchinson or Michael Vick for me.

Brees is a once-in-a-decade player who has been insanely good on the field and also a leader in his community. He is the most valuable overall player in the league right now, and thus, an easy choice here. Tomlinson is one of the more productive backs the game has ever known, and if you built a solid team around his versatility, you'd have a chance to contend every year. Tomlinson was consistent -- which is precisely why I'd go with Seymour over Vick. Seymour's ability to play outside or inside and command double-teams in the heart of his career is a hair more valuable than the somewhat inconsistent nature of Vick's journey.

There's no question that Vick is more talented than Hutchinson, Reggie Wayne, Casey Hampton, or any of the other great players in that '01 draft. And of course, he plays a more important position. But not having him around for a couple of years, as well as the injury woes, would give me pause. In fact, if we were talking about whom from that draft would be better this season specifically, 49ers defensive end Justin Smith might get the nod. Smith was a top-five pick for the Bengals in that draft, and was nothing short of dominant for the 49ers in 2011.

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  • Jason Smith
  • Vick's raw talent is tantalizing, but he definitely receives the bronze here

Drew Brees would be first, and it wouldn't even be close. The guy just broke Dan Marino's record for yards in a season, he's won a Super Bowl and proved himself to be a tremendous leader when there were doubts about him due to his height and shoulder injury early on. L.T. would be the next pick because he was healthy, consistent and incredibly productive for over a decade.

Michael Vick would be my third pick, and not just because of the dogfighting scandal. Say you threw that part of it out. What are you left with? It took him a while to understand what being a quarterback was all about -- remember, he admitted he was always the "last guy in, first guy out" of the locker room in Atlanta. He tantalized us with breathtaking plays, but never was able to put it all together. Vick is like that high-end car you buy that has every amenity you could possibly want, but every month you have to take it into the shop to get something different fixed.

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  • Chad ReuterNFL Network
  • Brees and Tomlinson are both headed to Canton, making Vick a distant third

Drew Brees would undoubtedly be the top player on my board. LaDainian Tomlinson's one of the top backs in the NFL's "Passing Era," ranking third all-time in touchdowns scored and seventh in all-purpose yards. But even a future Hall of Fame running back like L.T. hasn't led a team to a championship (and several other contending seasons) like Brees -- another likely Canton enshrinee, not only due to his transforming New Orleans from "Aints" to Super Bowl victors, but also his record-setting passing numbers.

Vick is a distant third. His off-field issues and injury concerns have overwhelmed the supreme athleticism he shows on the field.

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  • Adam Rank
  • Give it up to late Chargers GM Butler for his 2001 draft haul

First off, kudos to late Chargers GM John Butler for managing to snag two future Hall of Famers in the first two rounds of the draft in LaDainian Tomlinson and Drew Brees. (And let's not get into how much different things could have been if the team took Larry Fitzgerald in 2004, instead of Eli Manning.)

When answering this question, it's fair to ask who is doing the drafting. Remember, it was Chargers GM A.J. Smith who deemed Brees wasn't good enough. (Brees' injury -- because Marty Schottenheimer refused to play Philip Rivers in a meaningless game -- was a convenient excuse, but make no mistake, the Chargers weren't going to re-sign Brees.)

And then you wonder if Michael Vick would have run into his legal troubles in another town.

Still, with all of that out there, I believe it's safe to say Brees should have been the top pick, followed by Tomlinson and then Vick.

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