Sunday, May 13, 2007

In-depth analysis of the 2007 NFL draft

Ah the draft, our only football fix from February to August. I love the draft, more than most apparently and not just because I have been twice: next to no one was watching it – I could not get an event together. As a result I’m keeping a blog again. I did this last year, but I know it was a bit long, so I tried to keep my comments short (save for San Fran).

1 – Raiders
JaMarcus Russell QB LSU
Eh, we knew it was happening because the Raiders painted themselves into a corner with their moves. Calvin Johnson should have been the pick – but then Oakland would have had no quarterbacks. I thought maybe Al Davis would have the balls to draft Quinn, but probably not the intelligence. JaMarcus Russell will be a bust. Everyone loves his physical abilities (especially the deepball loving Raiders) and are sweating his Sugar Bowl game against a subpar Notre Dame. However he’s just not a smart quarterback and in big games against top competition turned the ball over left and right – what will he do against NFL defenses? They should have signed or traded for a vet. And I love it! Screw the Raiders!!

2 – Lions
Calvin Johnson WR GA Tech
Smart move – props to Matt Millen for not shying away from the best guy in the draft despite busting on two of the three WRs they took in the first round 2003-2005 (and Charlies Rogers was seen as a no-brainer too). When you are a bad team (and the Lions certainly are), you take the best guy. They need a QB too (Kitna and McNown are not starters), but Quinn wasn’t worth it. Johnson can team with Roy Williams to be nasty and he can learn slowly because Mike Furrey can work as a starter for now.

3 – Browns
Joe Thomas OT Browns
Not bad. The Browns needed OL help and if it was not flashy, it never hurts to get a solid tackle no matter how you are. Quinn is not a guy you HAVE to take, there will be better QBs in the future – and I have not sourced on Charlie Frye the way others have. Joe Thomas looks pretty solid, but so did Robert Gallery. I don’t think Adrian Peterson was worth third overall.

4 – Tampa Bay
Gaines Adams DE Clemson
Okay, keep the aging defense strong. I don’t know Gaines Adams much at all, but reportedly he is a streaky as a passrusher and always weak against the run. Actually that makes him a good fit for Tampa where DEs have traditional been passrushers first as they don’t blitz that much. They have plenty of other speedsters to swarm running backs.

5 – Cardinals
Levi Brown OT Penn State
The Cardinals certainly needed OL help. Supposedly Levi Brown is stronger than Thomas, but not as polished. Was he a reach? He probably wasn’t going to fall out of the top ten (I would have been thrilled to see him fall to San Fran, but I bet the Falcons might have grabbed him), so trading down was risky. This may not have been the best thing to do, but it was playing it safe rather than a mistake.

Side comment: if you are not watching with friends, the ESPN talking heads can get annoying as they don’t have enough material so they repeat themselves (and show Brady Quinn chilling in the greenroom – stupid outfit by the way). Also the new commish is not as stiff Tags was.

6 – Washington
LaRon Landry SF LSU
Uh, not so sure this was best. You have two athletic safties, but the DL is still weak (as is WR and QB). Landry is a good player, but I’m not sure he is a team changer.

This is Washington’s last pick until the 5th round because of all their wheeling and dealing. Dan Snyder still hasn’t figured the NFL out all. You build through the draft, the best players never hit free agency (and cost too much). Landry replaces last year’s free agent flop Adam Archuleta.

7 – Vikings
Adrian Peterson RB Oklahoma
BOTCH!!!!!!!! The Vikings have NO QBs worth anything and have some serviceable RBs. Unless you think Quinn is awful, or Peterson is a super stud (neither of which I did) bad move. So now they are strong at RB, but will flop as they have NO ONE to play QB. Yes, they took Tarvaris Jackson in the second round last year, but he was a stretch and last year said he was not ready to start when they benched Brad Johnson – hardly the stance of a natural leader.

I soured on Brad Childress in less than a season (despite rumors I’m not quick to give up on people) and this confirms it, he has no idea how to manage personnel. At least they picked in on time; similar to our dunderheaded president he is a decisive “decider,” making quick moves if not wise ones.

8 – Falcons
Jamaal Anderson DE Arkansas
ARGH!!!!!!!!! That was the guy I was hoping the Niners would land. Jamaal Anderson is an athletic passrusher, exactly what we need. He’s not a need pick for the Falcons, who have a pretty good DL – which will be nasty with Anderson teamed with John Abraham. What they need is WRs and some OL, but not much made sense here.

Funny: after every pick ESPN shows highlights of the guy. The first highlight for DEFENSIVE END Jamaal Anderson is him grabbing Florida WIDE RECEIVER Andre Caldwell and throwing him aside (shades of Cris Carter trying to block Reggie White) – which tells us what?

9 – Dolphins
Ted Ginn Jr. WR OSU
SHOCKER!! The Phins pass on Quinn who everyone thought they would take for Ted Ginn Jr. They need a WR and if they feel he will be a better WR than Quinn a QB then it makes since. Chris Chambers is not really an elite guy. This pick saves KC because they can still move Trent Green to Miami. Or they can try with Dante Culpepper again – who everyone is awfully quick to declare finished after a couple injury-riddled years. If Miami can get Green cheaply, have them compete for the starting spot. Don’t be afraid of the controversy, get the best guy – you can dump one in 2008.

And yes, I had already started typing up comments about their pick of Quinn and how it hurt KC.

10 – Texans
Amobi Okoye DT Louisville
It would have been hilarious if Peterson had fallen here and they grabbed him after passing on Bush. Instead they take the teenager Louisville DT Amobi Okoye. He is not a bad guy, the Texans are not a good team and should be picking best guy (actually unless you are a player or two away from a championship you should always be picking best guy) but DL is not really their weakness. Okoye has high boom-bust potential.

Good for Roger Goodell, he pulls Brady Quinn into his private box to hide him from the TV cameras so we can’t all watch him die slowly. Right now Aaron Rodgers is cursing Paul Tagliabue. Classy move – although not necessarily one good for TV ratings. Although it does kill the TV drama for a pretty dull draft (Come on Roger! Remember where you bread is buttered!) – maybe it is just me, but it seems like there is not a lot of talent coming out this year.

11 – 49ers
Patrick Willis LB Ole Miss
I’m generally an even keel guy, I was not really worried about any of my exams or defense, but I’m dying as the pick gets close (maybe because it is out of my hands). There are several options, none of them are shoe-ins to succeed. DT Alan Branch and LB Patrick Willis I guess are the two most likely. Branch has injury issues and reportedly takes plays off. Willis is big and fast, but not a passrusher, which is what they need – and LB is not a weakness. All that said what the team, and especially the defense, needs is a star – whoever the best guy regardless of position should be the pick

And they take Willis, probably the right move, but not really inspiring. When the mocks starting showing him landing here I was not too happy about it – but I warmed to it, the same way I did Vernon Davis. The reality is once Anderson was gone there was not a clear right move.

Since I am a 49ers’s fan I also went to address their offseason moves (not that I am sending this to any other 49er fans) – especially since they were the biggest players in free agency and everyone is complimenting them. They made a big splash on the first day signing one of the two biggest names – Bills CB Nate Clements. I would have rather they get the other one, Adalius Thomas. Clements got a huge contract (actually for $9 million a year, not the $10 million it seems), which was way too much for a guy who simply isn’t in the top tier of NFL corners (and they needed a pass-rusher more). I worry they were trying to make a splash because they had the most cap space – in their defense with the cap increasing everyone was wildly overpaying (freaking Derrick Dockery got $49 million). They also signed Eagles SF Michael Lewis – who was benched last year. Yes the secondary needed help, but this guy is more of a hitter than a coverman and I can’t believe anyone else was offering nearly as much money. After that they slowed down quickly – they picked up a guy (Aubrayo Franklin) head coach Nolan knew from Baltimore for the DL rotation which was probably good although that just added another body to a bunch of bodies that still has no stars. Much better was signing Patriots LB Tulla Banta-Cain who is a better passrusher than most realize (and came relatively cheaply). From their own roster they kept the punter (hoorah), but let backup TE Eric Johnson leave. I didn’t like that, he is talented and last year’s first round pick Vernon Davis hardly showed he will be an elite TE. Johnson is injury-prone (which is why he was gone), but they could have kept him cheap. And for the fourth year in a row since TO left the 49ers signed up a washed up veteran (or a never was) at WR to supposedly carry our crappy WR squad. Curtis Conway, Johnnie Morton, Antonio Bryant – each lasted one year. Bryant at least did something (I mean besides getting suspended for four games thanks to a DUI). This year’s mistake is Ashley Lelie (who bitched his way out of Denver after being a flop as a first rounder, and then made no impact in Atlanta) – at least they did not break the bank for him. The best move they made (assuming they make it as the rumor mill says they will) was trading a measly 4th round pick to Seattle for WR Darrel Jackson – who is solid pro and legit #1 WR (although not a first tier one) and instantly becomes the best in the receiver corps and legitimizes the passing attack. To get an established WR who is only 28 for a 4th is a steal (and why is Seattle moving him? Deion Branch is good, but without Jackson their other starter is Nate Burelson?!).

12 – Buffalo
Marshawn Lynch RB Cal
Huh. They needed a RB to replace their traded malcontent. Lynch is a shifter guy than Willis and more versatile, but has the same attitude and injury problems. Also I’m not sold he is durable enough for 25 carries again.

13 – Rams
Adam Carriker DE Nebraska
Smart move. This guy is the classic safe pick who you know will be a starter, but never be a star. He is a good player and fits a need for the Rams who have a soft DL besides undersized passrusher Leon Little. Secondary is another concern they could have addressed here too.

14 – Jets (from Panthers)
Darrelle Revis CB Pitt
Carolina trades to the Jets, cutting off Chris Mortensen mid-sentence. New York is a pretty good team, with no major holes so they can target a game-changer (although secondary and DL would be their softest spots). This guy is a burner, although reportedly most saw Michigan’s Leon Hall as a better CB. Maybe it is just another Jets blunder, last year ESPN had great archive footage of Mel Kiper shredding their picks in years past.

15 – Steelers
Lawrence Timmons LB FSU
Pittsburgh has a new coach, but they are still following the same model. This is a good pick, Timmons is both consistent and a big play guy. He might have had more hype if FSU had been so bad. And for the record cutting Joey Potter was an idiotic move, he might be a bit of a headcase (but smart enough to not take on a bigger man one-on-one in a bar fight), but he is a great LB and inspired leader.

Upt – Quinn gives an interview. Give him some credit for having some balls. He seems very cool about it and is being honest rather than giving canned answers to try to sell himself. My opinion of him as a leader goes up quite a bit (Steve Young makes the same point).

16 – Packers
Justin Harrell DT Tennessee
Green Bay drafts the Tennessee defensive lineman who played with one arm against UF this year. I don’t know much about him, but the Pack needed some D help.

The ESPN desk debates how Brett Farve will react to them not going offense. Who cares? Brett was great (but too much of a gambler to be mentioned with the best of all time), but he is not what he was and will never win another ring. Steve Young says it sends a message and MeShawn Johnson agrees. MeShawn is actually not so bad: he is willing to talk some about his team. He was never a great WR despite what he thought and I don’t like him, but I will be honest and give him credit he might have a future in broadcasting.

17 – Broncos (from Jaguars)
Jarvis Moss DE Florida
We have another trade and Denver hops up as the Jags stock some picks. And we have our first Gator! Moss will give the Broncos a big defensive boost if he can translate his passrushing talents to the next level. He’s big and fast, he won’t help much against the run, but I expect him to get better. And here is a little local inside info – Moss only came on in 2005 after no playing because he had this weird thing with bone particles in his blood (which almost ended his career and was hard to find, but easy to fix) so he is still growing – if he has stayed here he might have been a top five pick next year. Ironically Lots of mocks had Jacksonville nabbing Moss.

18 – Bungles
Leon Hall CB Michigan
We are starting to get the point I don’t know these guys very well. The ESPN talking heads point out force they don’t take a character problem – ah the Bungles, even when they aren’t losing 10 games a year they still are the Bungles. In terms of need the pick makes some sense as their D weak, although secondary is not as bad as DL (and they took a corner in the first round last year – 24th overall).

19 – Titans
Michael Griffin SF Texas
I don’t know that I think of this. Tennessee is not as good as their record was last year (it is a testament to the quality of Jeff Fisher), I foresee Vince Young taking a step back along with the whole team. Safety is not a huge need – they are not set anywhere on offense and are short a stud on DL.

20 – Giants
Aaron Ross CB Texas
Good pick! This is a case of most talented guy available meeting a teams big need. The G’ints have a fair amount of talent spread out everywhere (save QB) but corner was certainly a need (ESPN correctly points out that OT is too). This guy is big, fast, strong, and has a good head on his shoulders.

21 – Jaguars (from Broncos)
Reggie Nelson SF Florida
Winner, winner, big fat winner! Jags gets a playmaker. Jacksonville’s defense is good, but because of consistency not flashiness. They also had a tendency to let offenses put drives together. Their linebackers are so-so and Nelson can come up and help vs. the run, as well as make some big plays and hits in the secondary. They might have gone with Quinn, but Leftwich still might develop – he’s been good when not slowed by injuries. Getting an extra 3rd and 6th for dropping four and still landing Nelson is not bad, not bad at all.

22 – Browns (from Cowboys)
Brady Quinn QB Notre Dame
No shock, ESPN kept saying the Browns were trying to trade up, so once they made a trade it was clear what would happen. With Quinn and Thomas as well as some of their off-season moves that offense might be better than many expect. Well maybe. Poor Quinn goes late, but does not get the benefit of at least going to a good team because of the trade. Now he gets to play on a third overall pick bad team without third overall money. And that defense is not good (and not likely to get better given the picks they traded away).

As for Quinn: first Rodgers, then Leinart fell (and boy did we seen several videos of them before Quinn went into hiding). Quinn is better than Aaron (24), but not as good as Matt (10). Brady Quinn will be a good NFL quarterback, but not a great one. Think Danny White, Drew Bledsoe, Eli Manning, Neil O’Donnell, Dave Kreig, Bobby Hebert, Tommy Kramer, but probably better than Scott Mitchell.

ESPN reports Baltimore also was looking – which means they have finally realized Kyle Boller royally sucks – just four years after I did.

It might have been a mistake on Dallas’s part not to take Quinn themselves. I think teams figured out Romo very quickly last year and that wasn’t an accident. Still getting a second and first next year is hard to pass up. I like guys who play multiple sports (thus I wanted basketball playing Jamaal Anderson), golf doesn’t count – US Open or no US Open.

23 – Chiefs
Dwayne Bowe WR LSU
KC was also reportedly talking to Quinn, which makes sense as they have burned their bridges with Trent Green, by shopping him for a trade. That leaves Damon Huard who is not really a starter and Brodie Croyle from Bama, who was very good in college – on those rare occasions he wasn’t hurt.

Away the Chiefs take Bowe. Which is a need pick as they haven’t had a real #1 WR since Derrick Alexander (no, that’s not a joke – go to and check stats) and not had an NFL star at the position since…um…never? Who is the best WR in Chiefs history? Otis Taylor I guess. Not that Bowe will be a great – if they were going WR then Robert Meachem would have been better. Either way it helps their WR corps, which was needed. Now they need address their defense. Something in general about KC that you can see with their WR story is they have a bad tendency to try fill weak spots with retreads other teams abandoned. As I have commented in the past, this was why their defense was a huge liability for years (ditto for Minnesota).

24 – Patriots
Brandon Meriweather SF Miami
Sooner or later the Pats confidence they can take talented guys with attitude problems without trouble will come to bite them in the butt. A guy who tried to stomp on the head on another guy during FIU fight might be a candidate. As a player I don’t know much about him – “experts” said he is good – because “The (gun-toting?) U” was bad last year so I did not bother to watch them much. New England does not have many glaring needs so I guess they felt it would be good to try to upgrade as safety with oft-injured and old Rodney Harrison (Eugene Wilson is just oft-injured).

25 – Panthers (from Jets)
Jon Beason LB Miami
Ditto for Beason. The Panthers traded down to here. Dropping nine spots and pitching a sixth got them an extra second and fifth. Carolina has a bunch of talent, but not many young stars and needs to flesh out some spots (another offensive weapon besides Steve Smith, better run stopping) before they will be a true championship contender. Beason should be able to help especially given that starting MLB Dan Morgan will never be able to outrun his concussions.

26 – Cowboys (from Eagles)
Anthony Spencer DE Purdue
Dallas trades back into the first to take a speedrushing DE. Not bad, Dallas’s defense fell apart down the stretch and adding a passrusher is one way to improve quickly. Plus they have already added former Seahawk SF Ken Hamlin to protect wildly overrated SF Roy Williams for the 10-20 times a game he will blow coverage.

Philly gets and extra second, third, and fifth round picks. They need a receiver after only signing ex-Ram Kevin Curtis (what was I saying about the Chiefs?). There are no great ones available and a bunch of guys who are pretty similar they can get in second, but I don’t think they got enough to move down. McNabb is 30 now, their window will not last forever they need to be aggressive.

27 – Saints
Robert Meachem WR Tennessee
The ESPN talking heads did not like this pick because they did not feel it was a need. While their linebackers (still although a little better after having years of absolutely nothing) and secondary are lacking to me WR was a need. Yes they have Marques Colston who was outstanding last year, but even if you assume he doesn’t take a step back (which could easily happen) with Joe Horn gone their big receivers are Devery Henderson, Terrance Copper, and free agent David freaking Patten! Does that sound like a winning squad to you? Especially for a team with is offensive heavy and needs to score to get back to the playoffs. I say good pick.

28 – 49ers (from Patriots)
Joe Staley OT Central Michigan
I had heard the Niners had several extra picks and might move out, but not that the Patriots were looking to move out so this is a surprise. My first thought was that Michigan DT Alan Branch is still around (which I had not thought about at all – apparently his stock disappeared because on one has mention him once). ESPN said they were jumping in front of Baltimore to get OL help. And they are right. I don’t know this guy, but for what it is worth Kiper says he good. Sprinter in high school and started college as a TE. The Niners OL is young and fairly talented, but not great. The left tackle is overpaid and injury-prone and the right tackle (a former first rounder who was drafted in one of the drafts I was at – not that he was there in NYC) has been a flop. I can see the reason for this, but I don’t love it. Then I saw they gave up a 4th and a 1st rounder next year to New England. That pick next year is going to a lot higher than I think Nolan and company realizes. This starts a debate on ESPN. MeShawn is the only one at the desk to say that San Fran will not be that great next year – everyone else is saying they are probably a playoff team, which I don’t see at all. They were an up and down team that struggled to beat good teams. I’m slowly warmed to Nolan somewhat, but he still makes too many bad personnel moves.

It has been almost six hours by this point, I am getting a little worn – it is almost over. Still no confirmation that they traded for Darrell Jackson.

29 – Ravens
Ben Grubbs G Auburn
Baltimore’s OL is getting very old. Edwin Mulitalo is gone and Jonathan Ogden has been talking retirement. When you are picking this late and you can get solid starter who can step in as a rookie you call it a victory.

30 – Chargers
Craig Davis WR LSU
Their playoff loss last year showed beyond all shadow of a doubt that San Diego needs to upgrade at WR. They been doing the retread game a la KC too (been a decade since they had a stead #1). That said I’m not sure I think this guy was the best WR to get. I don’t remember LSU having all-star WRs, and when plays were made I mainly remember it being the other guy, Bowe – who KC got. ESPN echoes me, although he has good size.

Wow – I will give MeShawn credit for being the best draft commentator I have seen in a while. He was talking about USC WR Dwayne Jarrett and said he encouraged him to stay in school and when asked if Jarrett made a mistake coming out he stammered for only a second before point blank saying yes. Kiper came in on the attack and said he would not be any faster, but MeShawn held his ground.

31 – Bears
Greg Olsen TE Miami
Good move, getting another weapon for a low-wattage offense. There was talk about them moving up for Quinn, but while I am dubious about Sexy Rexy I am not sure it is quite time to give up on him. Let’s see how he looks in only his second full season.

32 – Colts
Anthony Gonzalez WR OSU
Hallelujah, it’s over! Mel Kiper and his ESPN buddies are freaking morons. They are talking about how Indy needs to grab a third WR. Did I miss something? Has everyone forgotten how bad their run defense was for most of the season? They haven’t added any free agents. They won it all last year, but are nowhere close to being a dynasty. Yes, they needed a third WR, but you can get one in later rounds – runstopper was their #1 need.

First round started: 12:10
Halfway point: 3:14!?!?!?!
First round ended: 6:18 – it is officially the longest one ever, Goodell makes a few jokes about it – not a record they want to set. If nothing else he is better on TV than Tags. It was over an hour longer than last year. If this seems a little long just remember it is a lot short reading it than watching it. Not the most exciting or talent laden draft I have ever seen.

Sure enough Alan Branch is the first pick in the second round as the Cards swap up with the Raiders.


Anonymous Lunette said...

Good for people to know.

8:30 PM  

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