Here's My 2007 NFL Mock Draft. Yes I Have A Girlfriend.
Here's how I think Saturday's first round will go. Please note, while I think there will be trades, I kept the current draft order intact for simplicity's sake.
1. Oakland: JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU
Unless the Raiders acquire Dante Culpepper sometime before they hand in their card, this pick is going to be JaMarcus Russell and not Calvin Johnson. I do think some consideration will go into drafting Johnson and then snagging local product Stanford QB Trent Edwards in Round 2 or 3. But it’s hard to pass on a guy who can throw almost the full length of the field, especially when you’re Al Davis.
2. Detroit: Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech
Matt Millen is not a great draft guy. He finds ways to mess things up. There are so many ways to not mess this up. You can spend the weeks leading up to this point salivating in the media about Calvin Johnson, the absolute best player in this year’s draft, dismissing your history of drafting back-to-back-to-back first round WRs and coming away with just one viable player. Convince Tampa to bite and move up, giving you the #4 and additional picks. Then convince Arizona that you love Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas and make them move up to #4 to get him, swapping picks and adding more draft choices to your back pocket. With Oklahoma runner Adrian Peterson’s injury issues likely keeping him out of Cleveland’s plans at #3, there may even be an eager buyer for the #5 slot, though I think at that point you stay, and grab Clemson DE Gaines Adams, whose value is good at that spot, but would have been a reach up at #2. OR, you trade with Atlanta, who love local kid Johnson, and drop down to snag a guy like Mississippi LB Patrick Willis. Or, you draft Johnson and then make Tampa or Atlanta sweat and see what kind of value offer they make you post pick. Or, simply keep Johnson and watch Mike Martz turn him and Roy Williams lose all over the NFL. Anything else should be considered another Millen draft failure.
3. Cleveland: Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame
I really think Adrian Peterson is the best pick here, but there is talk that his collarbone is not 100% and could need surgery delaying his ability to be available for training camp. While Jamal Lewis isn’t the long term answer here, he is a good stopgap, and there are other good runners to be had later in the draft. The Browns need to make an impact picking at #3, and an injured running back won’t cut it. Quinn is the real deal, an Ohio native, and could be the Browns starter by mid-season.
4. Tampa Bay: Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin
Tampa needs lots of help in lots of places. They really like Calvin Johnson, but barring any draft deals, I think this is where they go. They could look defense with a guy like Adams or Louisville DT Amobi Okoye, but their O-line play was not good last year, and its best player, Sean Mahan, left in free agency. Whoever ends up starting at QB for the Bucs next year is going to need some time to throw without worrying about suffering the kind of injury that left Chris Simms spleen in a med waste bag last season.
5. Arizona: Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma
Joe Thomas would have been a great fit here, though word is Arizona was less than impressed with his workouts and may have their eye on moving down for Penn State OT Levi Brown. But I think if they stay, this may be where they go. Coach Whisenhunt learned in Pittsburgh that you don’t need a first round running back to be successful (i.e. undrafted star Willie Parker) but the chance to combine Peterson with veteran running back Edgerrin James will be too much for him to resist, with Edge filling the Jerome Bettis role perfectly in his offensive scheme. The key will be what the Cardinals medical staff thinks about Peterson’s twice injured collarbone.
6. Washington: Amobi Okoye, DT, Louisville
Word is the Redskins would like to shop the pick, since this is it for them on Day 1, but if Peterson goes above there won’t be anyone left that teams would want to come up for this high. While Gaines Adams may be a better player right now, Okoye would be the much better fit in Washington’s system. Plus as a 19 year old with 4 full years of college playing experience under his belt, his potential is staggering.
7. Minnesota: LaRon Landry, S, LSU
Minnesota needs help on both sides of the ball, including WR and RB, but there isn’t value at this pick at those positions. But as good as the Vikings run defense was last year, their secondary was just that bad. LaRon Landry is arguably a top 5 talent in this draft and would be an excellent addition to Minnesota’s developing Cover 2.
8. Atlanta (from Houston): Gaines Adams, DE, Clemson
This team would love to move up to get Calvin Johnson, and with the picks they received in the Matt Schaub deal, they have the firepower to pull it off. But if they stand pat, a gift like Adams may just fall into their laps. With Patrick Kerney leaving via free agency, the Falcons have a big hole to fill at defensive end. Gaines Adams is the total package who can get to the QB as well as drop into coverage when called upon.
9. Miami: Levi Brown, OT, Penn State
The Dolphins would have loved to have seen Brady Quinn slide, whether the Trent Green deal gets done or not. But this team has bigger needs on both the offensive and defensive lines (and arguably WR/KR) then they do at QB. While there are some big time defenders out there, there will still be quality picks waiting at the top of Round 2, while O-line, particularly tackle, suffers a big drop off after the top few guys. Brown will be a plug and play LT for this team that could use some protection for whatever injury plagued QB steps under center for them this year.
10. Houston (from Atlanta): Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas
While snagging Adrian Peterson here would have been great PR, I don’t think it’s going to happen. Besides getting Anderson here would be huge value. Plus by putting him on the opposite end of last year’s #1 Mario Williams, the Texans can create even more lanes for 2006 Defensive Rookie of the Year DeMeco Ryans to exploit.
11. San Francisco: Patrick Willis, LB, Mississippi
After taking care of the offensive side of the ball the past few seasons it’s time for the 49ers to turn their attention to defense. While an end like Nebraska’s Adam Carriker would be a great fit, I think Coach Nolan will push for Willis, who he coached at this year’s Senior Bowl, to fill the void at linebacker that the team has had since Julian Peterson left after the 2005 season.
12. Buffalo: Leon Hall, CB, Michigan
While I think a running back like Cal’s Marshawn Lynch makes good sense here, I just don’t see the Bills doing it in this spot. I think they ideally wanted Willis, and may consider trading down if he’s gone. If they stay at #12, they will probably go cornerback to replace the departed Nate Clements, with Hall getting the nod over Pitt’s Darrelle Revis.
13. St. Louis: Darrelle Revis, CB, Pittsburgh
The Rams defense was absolutely horrible last year. They need help on the line, but can’t afford a project or bust here. Adam Carriker is a possibility, and a big time talent, but he doesn’t project perfectly into their system. And Michigan DT Alan Branch has bust written all over him. Revis would pair with former first rounder Tye Hill to form the best young secondary in the league (Denver had the best “old” secondary in the league.) to help give more time for the front 7 to get to the QB.
14. Carolina: Reggie Nelson, S, Florida
Carolina is going to be on the phone for awhile with this pick. Adam Carriker is still on the board, and while he isn’t a need for the Panthers, he’s probably not getting past Pittsburgh, so some teams may be willing to jump up. The LB and safety holes on this team are glaring, but most picks here project as reaches. I think they trade down and get one of each, but if they stay, they will go safety knowing that there is a deeper linebacking corps to sift through in Round 2.
15. Pittsburgh: Adam Carriker, DE, Nebraska
The Steelers are a team at the crossroads. Super Bowl champs to .500, and a new head coach calling the shots. The Steelers have some needs but no big holes. They would like to find a big back to pair with Willie Parker, but I don’t see them taking Lynch, instead targeting Louisville’s Michael Bush or more likely Rutgers’ Brian Leonard, a Mike Alstott clone, in the 3rd round. They need depth at outside linebacker, where they love Florida State’s Lawrence Timmons over some of the bigger names out there like Penn State’s Paul Posluszny and Miami’s Jon Beason, but this is too high for him, as it is for a tweener like Florida’s Jarvis Moss. A guard like Texas’ Justin Blalock makes sense since both disgruntled All-Pro Alan Faneca and fellow guard Kendall Simmons are heading into free agency. Though I believe they are more likely to target a guy like USC center Ryan Kalil in the 2nd round, with the idea of moving Sean Mahan from center back to guard in a season or two. But the best bet here is grabbing the top player left on the board, Adam Carriker, and playing him on the opposite side of Aaron Smith in the 3-4 and moving him inside next to Casey Hampton when they work in Coach Tomlin’s preferred 4-3 front.
16. Green Bay: Marshawn Lynch, RB, Cal
While a receiver or big play tight end like Miami’s Greg Olsen would make the returning Brett Farve very happy, Green Bay isn’t going anywhere without a solid back to take pressure off the throwing game. This pick helps Farve now, but it’s a true boon to eventual starter, and fellow Cal Golden Bear, Aaron Rodgers.
17. Jacksonville: Michael Griffin, S, Texas
The Jags need defense here, preferably a safety or pass rushing end. Local product, Florida’s undersized DE Jarvis Moss, would be a fan favorite, but is not a good fit for this team’s scheme. Even though most will call this pick a reach, with Griffin’s value considered to be closer to the bottom of Round 1, I think Jacksonville grabs the best fit for their needs regardless of what others will say.
18. Cincinnati: Jon Beason, LB, Miami
The Bengals need defense, and character guys are a plus. Their biggest holes are at linebacker and while a guy like Penn State’s Paul Posluszny is a big motor guy and class act, Jon Beason is the more versatile option who can play inside or outside in the Bengals’ system.
19. Tennessee: Aaron Ross, CB, Texas
Another team that needs a character infusion, the Titans will be looking to fill the hole created when Pacman Jones was suspended for a year by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Ross is both a solid citizen, and speed corner with return skills. If the Titans haven’t fully soured on Jones, there is a chance of Ohio State WR Ted Ginn, Jr. going here instead.
20. N.Y. Giants: Paul Posluszny, LB, Penn St.
Cornerback, tackle, or linebacker… With Ross gone, there isn’t another corner worth grabbing this high. Central Michigan OT Joe Staley is a strong possibility, but it’s rare that a player like Posluszny comes along - someone who may actually enjoy Tom Coughlin’s coaching style.
21. Denver: Alan Branch, DT, Michigan
While an offensive lineman or linebacker was likely the original target for this spot, Branch’s free fall leaves the Broncos with an opportunity to grab the top DT on many boards. There’s been talk about weight and practice issues, but there are enough vets on this team to keep Branch in line.
22. Dallas: Ted Ginn, Jr., WR, Ohio State
While there were issues in the secondary last year, the team addressed it partially in free agency by grabbing former Seahawk Ken Hamlin and can pick up decent value at CB or safety in Round 2. But with each of their starting wideouts north of 30, being able to grab whichever WR they have listed #2 on their board is too good to pass up. My money is on Ginn, Jr. who can return punts and kicks while working his way into 3 and 4 receiver sets.
23. Kansas City: Joe Staley, OT, Central Michigan
The Chiefs have lost Willie Roaf and Will Shields to retirement in back-to-back seasons. Are you kidding? If they expect to give Larry Johnson another 400 carries next season while trotting either Damon Huard or Brodie Croyle out as their new starting QB, they had better start rebuilding their offensive line.
24. New England (from Seattle): Brandon Meriweather, S, Miami
The Pats would love to see either Griffin or Posluszny fall, but they will be very happy with Meriweather who can learn from Rodney Harrison (who turns 35 this season), working into a few series behind him and playing corner in nickel packages.
25. N.Y. Jets: Greg Olsen, TE, Miami
The crowd in Radio City Music Hall will explode when this pick is made. (And for a change, in a good way.) The Jets have needed a home run threat at TE for years and Olsen fits the bill. A receiver in a tight ends body (6’6”, 250lbs, with a 4.5 40), the media will love comparing him to fellow Hurricane and current New York Giant Jeremy Shockey.
26. Philadelphia: Jarvis Moss, DE, Florida
They would have hoped one of top safeties would have fallen to them, but they can get great value here in Moss. After Jevon Kearse's knee injury left the Eagles without a strong pass rush threat last season, the Eagles have a chance to snag a player who can slot into either rush end or linebacker depending on the down or formation.
27. New Orleans: Dwayne Bowe, WR, LSU
The signing of Colts’ cornerback Jason David clears the way for the Saints to pick a replacement for departed WR Joe Horn. Bowe is a good fit and it doesn’t hurt that he’s a local LSU product.
28. New England: David Harris, LB, Michigan
They have their pick of the top guard on the board here, but I think they will grab an inside linebacker to groom behind Tedy Bruschi. Harris is a high motor type that may not be the best player on the field, but he’s great at elevating the players around him. He should fit in well with the Patriots’ system.
29. Baltimore: Justin Blalock, OG/OT, Texas
The Ravens are deep everywhere but offensive line. Blalock played most of his college career at tackle, but most teams project him to guard in the NFL. I believe Baltimore will give him a long look at Tony Pashos vacated right tackle spot before looking to move him inside.
30. San Diego: Robert Meachem, WR, Tennessee
The Chargers are in need of a complementary target for QB Philip Rivers to team with WR/TE Vincent Jackson and TE/WR Antonio Gates. Meachem is purely a finesse receiver, whose 4.4 speed is best utilized on fly routes, leaving the middle of the field open for the big boys.
31. Chicago: Ben Grubbs, OG, Auburn
The Lance Briggs situation is a powder keg, and Lawrence Timmons is still sitting on the board. But with Timmons rawness he’ll need to learn from vets to get better, and Brian Urlacher has already made his opinions clear on the situation. So the Bears may avoid this issue for now and look at either an offensive lineman or wide receiver to help out their “weaker” half. With such a deep receiver class, I think Grubbs is the pick here.
32. Indianapolis: Chris Houston, CB, Arkansas
Free agency hit the Colts hard this off-season, especially on defense. Timmons would be a good fit, as would Tennessee DT Justin Harrell. But remember, they won the Super Bowl with the worst rated run defense in the NFL last season. But after losing both starting cornerbacks, the Colts need to be able to at least do something on D while Peyton Manning is filming commercials on the sidelines. Houston has the potential to start opening day after an impressive junior year in which he limited well regarded WR prospects Dwayne Bowe, Robert Meachem and Dwayne Jarrett to a combined 14 catches, 168 yards, and 1 touchdown.