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Okay, with less than two weeks to go before the NFL draft takes place, itâ€™s time for me to put all the chips on the table and show my cards.
Without further ado here is the 24×7 first round mock (or is that mockery) of the 2007 NFL Draft:
1. Oakland: JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU â€“ If Oakland is able to move either Randy Moss or Jerry Porter before the draft takes place, they may take Calvin Johnson instead. However, itâ€™s doubtful that they will find any suitable trade partners before they have to pull the trigger. Russell has some warts. He doesnâ€™t always make the right decisions, has trouble reading certain coverages and did not perform well against elite competition. However, he has a rocket arm. He can make any throw. And more importantly, he can deliver the ball downfield, which owner Al Davis loves to see his quarterbacks do.
2. Detroit: Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin — The Lions have to think hard about this selection, as they do need a quarterback of the future, and Brady Quinn can fill those shoes. However, offensive coordinator Mike Martz trusts Jon Kitna at quarterback to run his offense. If Thomas were the pick, he would be the fourth offensive lineman added by Detroit in the off-season. Clearly, he would help improve a front five which was dreadful a year ago. Thomas would function much like Orlando Pace did for Martz while he ran the Greatest Show on Turf in St. Louis.
3. Cleveland: Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame — Does anyone honestly believe that the Brownsâ€™ front office believes in Charlie Frye or Derrick Anderson as its starting quarterback? While both players have displayed flashes, neither has been consistent. And quite frankly, Cleveland is not one impact player away from being a playoff team. This is the time for the organization to take its franchise quarterback. Head coach Romeo Crennel knows Quinn better than any other coach in the league, considering his friend Charlie Weiss groomed Quinn at Notre Dame for the past two seasons.
4. Tampa Bay: Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech — At this point, Tampa Bay would take all of five seconds to turn in their card. Itâ€™s no secret that the Buccaneers covet Johnson. And why wouldnâ€™t they? He is the safest pick in the draft. Johnson is not only a super freak (given his combination of size, speed and strength) but he is a fundamentally sound ballplayer. He is also a Grade A run blocker. Aside from suffering from the occasional case of the drops, there are not any flaws in his game.
5. Arizona: Levi Brown, OT, Penn State — Reach picks always occur in the draft. Arizona taking Brown at this spot would classify as such a move, especially with an edge rusher like Gaines Adams being available. That said, the Cardinals have a dire need to improve their offensive line. Brown is clearly the best right tackle in the draft. Considering that Arizona will need an elite strong side blocker to protect Matt Leinhartâ€™s blindside, the selection of Brown makes sense. There are questions about Brownâ€™s desire and consistency, but no one denies that he is a gifted prospect.
6. Washington: Gaines Adams, DE, Clemson — There are a number of blue-chip defensive linemen in this class, and Adams is the top student. The Redskins absolutely need an impact edge rusher, so the selection of Adams at this point is a no-brainer. Adams can fly off the corner and has deceptive power. With Adams on board, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams may be less inclined to blitz, instead relying on his front four to generate a pass-rush.
7. Minnesota: Leon Hall, CB, Michigan — This pick will boil down to which impact defensive back do the Vikings prefer: Hall or safety LaRon Landry? At safety, the Vikings have two solid starters in Darren Sharper and Dwight Smith. They also signed Mike Doss this week. Not to mention that if Hall is the player picked, the Vikings could toy with sliding Cedric Griffin to safety, which seems to be a more natural fit. Hall isnâ€™t spectacular in any one area, but he does everything well. In Hall, Minnesota would have a technically sound defensive back who is physical, and can hold his own in man-to-man coverage situations.
8. Atlanta: LaRon Landry, S, LSU — With the departure of Patrick Kerney in free agency, defensive end is a major need for Atlanta. However, safety is a bigger need, which makes the selection of Landry is a good move at the eight position. Landry is a smart safety that can cover a lot of ground. His arrival could allow veteran Lawyer Milloy to stick inside of the box, where he is more effective at this point in his career.
9. Miami: Alan Branch, DT, Michigan â€“ The Dolphins could use an injection of youth on the defensive line and specifically on the inside at tackle. Keith Traylor, Jeff Zgonina and Vonnie Holiday are still effective players, but their years in the league are numbered. Branch is a classic high-risk, high-reward player. Heâ€™s been knocked for being lethargic and his combine performance was abysmal. Still, he is a load inside the trenches. If heâ€™s able to play with consistent technique, Branch could turn into one of the most dominant players out of this class.
10. Houston: Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma â€“ Looking back, if this scenario plays out, the Texans could go from 06â€™ draft day goats, to 07â€™ draft day kings. Landing Peterson with the tenth selection would be a steal. And it has a distinct possibility of happening, given that there are so few teams with a need at running back. Houstonâ€™s biggest hole to fill is at tackle, but unless they want to reach and nab Joe Staley, Peterson is the only player worth taking. Peterson is a dynamic back who could provide insurance to Ahman Green, who hasnâ€™t been able to stay healthy for the past three seasons.
11. San Francisco: Tedd Ginn Jr., WR, Ohio State â€“ Obviously, Ginnâ€™s selection depends on how well he performs in his Pro Day workout. If Ginn clocks in at a 4.3 time in the 40, he should be a safe bet between the top 15 picks. Ginn is an explosive receiver who also provides the ability to impact as a kick/punt returner. The 49ers need a go-to target for quarterback Alex Smith to turn to. Along with Vernon Davis and Frank Gore, the Niners would have three legitimate playmakers on the field for opponents to worry about defending.
12. Buffalo: Patrick Willis, LB, Mississippi â€“ Buffalo has a number of needs to address, including tailback and cornerback. But the best players left at those positions are not as solid as the best player left at linebacker, another clear gap in the roster. Willis is an intriguing prospect given his raw speed and athleticism. He has the ability to play on the outside if needed, but he is at home as a MIKE.
13. St. Louis: Adam Carriker, DE, Nebraska â€“ The Rams need help on defense, especially to sure up its putrid run defense. However, the tough guys like Willis and Branch are off the board, so it would need to move in another direction. Taking Carriker would help fill a need at the defensive end spot opposite of Leonard Little. In Carriker, the Rams would get a high energy, high motor player who makes stops on a consistent basis. In many ways, Carriker is similar to another former Ram, and former Husker, Grant Wistrom.
14. Carolina: Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas â€“ Carolina could go in a couple of different directions with this pick. What the team really needs is a blue-chip linebacker, but there are none available worth this high of a selection. Greg Olsen, the pass catching tight-end from Miami (Fl.), seems like a better choice. He would provide a much needed third option in the passing game to go along with Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson. However, this is a case of the Panthers picking the absolute best player left on the board. Anderson can also help secure the opposite end of Julius Peppers, which is a need given Mike Ruckerâ€™s drop off over the past two seasons. The team can get a comparable tight-end like Zack Miller in round two.
15. Pittsburgh: Amobi Okoye, DT, Louisville â€“ The truth is, Okoye is a risky pick given his lack of experience and technique. He is a raw prospect. However, his upside potential is immense. Not to mention that he is an intelligent player who has developed his game at a rapid level. He appears to be a better fit in a 4-3 defensive scheme, particularly in a one-gap scheme. However, Okoye is a strong guy who holds his own at the point-of-attack, so he could become a fine 3-4 end in Pittsburghâ€™s alignment.
16. Green Bay: Marshawn Lynch, RB, California â€“ Okay, so maybe all of the other picks before this one wonâ€™t occur as I predicted. But somehow, some way, Lynch will be a Packer. The team needs a tailback badly. Lynch is an explosive runner who can catch passes out of the backfield. Although Peterson gets all of the hype at the running back position, Lynch isnâ€™t far behind. In fact, in the right offense, he could be a more productive player at the next level.
17. Jacksonville: Reggie Nelson, S, Florida â€“ Itâ€™s hard to imagine that the Jaguars will try to address a position other than safety. The team lost free safety Deon Grant to free agency and Donovan Darius has struggled to stay on the field in the past two seasons. Nelson could prove to be the perfect foil to Darius, assuming the former Pro Bowl performer is healthy. Nelson is a player who moves well sideline-to-sideline and closes on the ball in a hurry. He has the speed and athleticism to battle receivers downfield.
18. Cincinnati: Darrell Revis, CB, Pittsburgh â€“ The Bengals will pick a defensive player, but the question is which one? The team could look to address any one of the three units â€“ defensive line, linebacker and secondary. At this point, Revis is arguably the best defensive player left on the board. Not only is he a versatile corner capable of playing in zone or man schemes, but he is also a physical guy who tackles well and can play in the box. With Revis on one side, and Jonathan Joseph on the other, Cincinnati would have a nice duo on the islands.
19. Tennessee: Dwayne Bowe, WR, LSU â€“ The Titans will take a receiver at No.19. The front office will have to choose between Bowe and the local Tennessee Volunteer Robert Meachem. Bowe is the tougher, more physical player, and that is the type of athlete the Titans need to replace Drew Bennett, who served at the Titansâ€™ go-to red zone target. Although Bowe is not a flyer that can separate downfield, he is capable of gaining yards after contact and works the intermediate area of the field. Bowe would join a group of green targets that Vince Young must turn to in the passing game.
20. New York Giants: Joe Staley, OT, Central Michigan â€“ Staley is one of the rising stars of the draft. The tackle from little Central Michigan had an impressive workout at the combine, displaying great athleticism and speed. In addition, he held his own at the Senior Bowl against stiff competition. Heâ€™s a natural left tackle, and that is a position that the G-Men need to address given the loss of Luke Petitgout in the off-season.
21. Denver: Jarvis Moss, DE, Florida â€“ Moss is the lone pure edge rusher left who is best suited to line up on the end spot (he is too long and too tall to play at linebacker). Like a number of players who fit the same mold, Moss is adept at turning the corner and chasing the ball carrier from the backside, but he needs to improve as a run defender. Still, if heâ€™s used in the right way, Moss could become an explosive pass-rushing specialist right away. The Broncos need someone who can put his hand down and rush the quarterback.
22. Dallas: Anthony Spencer, DE/OLB, Purdue â€“ Not only will Dallas garner a lot of media scrutiny right before the season starts (let the T.O. watch begin at any time) but they will also be under the microscope on draft day. The reason is primarily due to Dallas being such a wildcard player at No.22. The â€˜Boys could go in a number of directions. They could grab a receiver to serve as a replacement for the either Terry Glenn or Owens in the future. Or Dallas could grab a player to help augment the offensive line, specifically on the inside at guard or center. However, Spencer is the pick because head coach Wade Phillips needs not one, but two formidable pass-rushers to man the outside linebacker positions in his 3-4 scheme. He has the speed and intelligence to make a transition from end to linebacker.
23. Kansas City: Aaron Ross, CB, Texas â€“ The Chiefsâ€™ defense showed signs of improvement last year, but age is a concern on the back end. While Patrick Surtain and Ty Law held their ground at times at the corner spots, they are on the downside of their careers and could fall victim to the injury bug. Enter Aaron Ross. Ross is a squeaky clean prospect from an elite program. Much like Law and Surtain, he is a physical player who tackles well, and breaks quickly on the ball. He should help the team immediately as a nickel back.
24. New England: Lawrence Timmons, OLB, Florida State â€“ With two selections in the latter portion of the first round, the Patriots have the opportunity to add a couple of future starters to replace the soon to be departed. At linebacker, New England is in solid shape, but all four starters are hovering around the 30-year-old mark, or are above it. Predicting exactly which linebacker the Pats choose is a difficult task given what they require their linebackers to do, from a schematic point of view. Timmons is a raw prospect, but he has outstanding physical ability. He creates big plays, which has been the mark of most Seminole linebackers. Given some time to develop, he could turn into a monster.
25. New York Jets: Greg Olsen, TE, Miami (FL.) â€“ The Jets committed a blunder two years ago when they forked over their first round pick to the Raiders in exchange for tight end Doug Jolley. Jolley ended up being a bust. The team will look to make amends by grabbing Olsen with this pick. The Panthers could have selected Olsen at No.14, but due to the other franchises addressing more pressing needs, he falls in New Yorkâ€™s lap. Like the other New York football team, the Jets will soon have a pass catching tight end that can split out and make plays over the middle.
26. Philadelphia: Michael Griffin, S, Texas â€“ Griffin seems like a born Eagle. This is a safety who is equally adept against the run and the pass. Although he is not the biggest guy, Griffin is a head-knocker who will lay the lumber. Like Brian Dawkins, Griffin is an asset as a blitzer moving in from the line-of-scrimmage. To add to what Griffin brings on the field, he is also a high character athlete who would fit in nicely with a veteran group of players.
27. New Orleans: Chris Houston, CB, Arkansas â€“The Saints donâ€™t have many holes to fill on the offensive side of the ball, but they can stand to improve their defense, especially at the cornerback position opposite of Mike McKenzie. Houstonâ€™s strength is primarily in coverage. He is has fluid hips, solid instincts and the speed to keep up with vertical threats. Houston must improve against the run. Still, New Orleans has a couple of veterans who can start ahead of the Arkansas product before he eventually takes over when he is ready.
28. New England: Eric Weddle, S, Utah â€“ New England needs help in the secondary at corner and safety — two positions that Weddle played at Utah, in addition to playing on offense and special teams. Weddle is a rare all-purpose player who can wear many hats. In that regard, he is a Bill Belichick player all the way. While Brandon Meriweather could provide better upside and ability at this pick, he is an off-the-field risk, therefore the Patriots stay safe with a guy like Weddle, who has the intelligence and work ethic to assimilate Belichickâ€™s complex playbook.
**29. Baltimore: Justin Blalock, G, Texas â€“ The flash is gone at pick No.29. What is left, for the most part, is plenty of substance. Like many lineman who are rated as the best at guard or center, Blalock appears to be a safe pick. Insert him into the starting lineup at right guard, and you have a player who could be a perennial Pro Bowl performer. Blalock brings power, toughness and a mean streak, which Baltimore needs to improve its running game. Blalock is a better fit at guard, because he lacks ideal the footwork and quickness to dance with speed rushers. But he has experience playing at right tackle, which is a plus given that the Ravens may need to slide current starter Adam Terry to the left side depending on the availability of Jonathan Ogden.
30. San Diego: Robert Meachem, WR, Tennessee â€“ San Diego is perhaps the deepest and most talented team in the NFL. But if there is one thing they lack, it is a reliable wideout to complement their two offensive stars, Antonio Gates and LaDanian Tomlinson. Meachem is a speedster who would help stretch the field. Along with Eric Parker and Vincent Jackson, the Chargers would have three receivers who can make big plays in the passing game.
31. Chicago: Justin Harrell, DT, Tennessee â€“ Call this an outlook pick. With Tank Johnson due to have a date with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he serves his prison sentence, and Tommie Harrisâ€™ recovering from a season-ending hamstring injury, defensive tackle all of a sudden becomes a need for the NFC Champions. Harrell fits the profile of a three-technique tackle. He is quick, can split gaps and stop plays in the backfield.
32. Indianapolis: Jon Beason, LB, Miami (FL.) â€“ Regardless of which free agents leave Indianapolis, this organization always restocks through the draft. This is the time of the year when GM Bill Polian puts his stamp on the roster. The Colts should go defense with this selection, and Beason seems to be an ideal fit. While he lacks size, Beason is a fiery backer who tackles hard, plays until the whistle is blown and is usually in the right spot, at the right time. In a way, he would act as the Bob Sanders of the linebacker corps. He would indubitably cure the defending champsâ€™ tackling woes.