NFL Draft: Ranking Each Team's 1st-Round Pick from 2007
The 2007 NFL draft is notorious for several aspects. It was the longest first round ever, lasting just over six hours. The first overall pick, JaMarcus Russell, is probably the worst draft pick in the league’s history. And there’s not a significant quarterback from the first round (or any round, for that matter).
After Russell, the selections of Calvin Johnson and Joe Thomas gave the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns franchise players to build their offense around. The immediate ensuing picks were less-than-spectacular, notably the late Gaines Adams, Jamaal Anderson and Aombi Okoye.
An impressive seven players signed long-term deals with their team before the expiration of their rookie contract. That’s evidence that there was talent to be found in the draft. After all, a full five players graded as an A+ and could easily be the best of their class. Then again, seven more players graded as an F and 13 rated as a D or worse.
It was essentially a hit-or-miss draft, as only two players graded between a D+ and B-. A full 26 were either worse than a D or better than an A-.
32. JaMarcus Russell, QB, Oakland Raiders (1st Pick)
It’s never a good sign when the first overall pick rates as the worst player from the draft. In fact, you could make a strong case for JaMarcus Russell being the biggest waste of a draft pick in NFL history. Russell was drafted first overall by a team that thought it had the most physically gifted quarterback in ages.
Russell could throw a football through the goalposts on his knees—from the 50-yard line. He was 6’5”, 265 pounds and set to be the franchise quarterback for the Oakland Raiders. The team paid him a ridiculous $68 million on a six-year deal, including $31.5 million guaranteed.
Three seasons later, Russell was mercifully released. His career numbers speak for themselves. He was 7-18 as a starting quarterback. His 52.1 completion percentage, 6.0 yards per attempt and 65.2 passer rating aren’t as bad as Ryan Leaf, but they’re bad nonetheless. Russell is reportedly attempting a comeback in the NFL (h/t ESPN.com), but good luck to Russell and any team wishing to sign him.
31. Brady Quinn, QB, Cleveland Browns (22nd Pick)
The 2007 draft sure wasn’t quarterback-heavy. JaMarcus Russell is an all-time bust. Kevin Kolb, John Beck and Trent Edwards have been failed starters.
And Brady Quinn has bounced around the league. He’s just 4-16 as a starter, having thrown 12 touchdowns to 17 interceptions while posting a 64.4 passer rating. Quinn is one of 55 quarterbacks since 2007 to have thrown at least 500 passes. He’s dead-last in adjusted net yards per passing attempt (3.86).
He’s tied for the fourth-lowest completion percentage. He’s second-worst in passer rating. And his .200 winning percentage as a starter is third-last among all the qualifying quarterbacks.
30. Justin Harrell, DT, Green Bay Packers (16th Pick)
It’s as if the Green Bay Packers didn’t even have a first-round pick in 2007. Justin Harrell played sparingly as a rookie, seeing action in seven games. He then proceeded to miss 41 of his next 48 games due to injury and was mercifully released after the 2010 season.
Harrell’s lifetime totals: 14 games played, two starts, zero sacks, zero fumble recoveries, zero forced fumbles, zero interceptions, 17 tackles and one championship ring.
29. Craig Davis, WR, San Diego Chargers (30th Pick)
If you missed Craig Davis’ career, don’t feel bad. He entered the league as a first-round pick. He left it having accumulated 51 catches for 558 yards and two touchdowns in four seasons.
Davis appeared in only 26 of a possible 64 games, making just two starts. It wasn’t a good year for LSU first-rounders, as JaMarcus Russell also failed miserably. Davis even had Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers throwing to him, but he just didn’t amount to anything.
28. Jarvis Moss, DE, Denver Broncos (17th Pick)
Jarvis Moss (2007) and Robert Ayers (2009) gave the Denver Broncos two pretty awful first-round defensive ends in a span of three years.
Moss has played 53 games in five NFL seasons, starting just two of them. He’s picked up six sacks, one forced fumble and no fumble recoveries as both a 4-3 end and 3-4 outside linebacker.
27. Jamaal Anderson, DE, Atlanta Falcons (8th Pick)
Jamaal Anderson looked like he would be a sensational pass-rusher in the NFL. He’s 6’5”, 288 pounds and was playing opposite Pro Bowl defensive end John Abraham.
Anderson started all 16 games as a rookie without picking up a sack. He’s accumulated 7.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in six NFL seasons. The Atlanta Falcons got rid of Anderson after four disappointing years, and he’s since played for both the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals for a year each.
26. Gaines Adams, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4th Pick)
Gaines Adams was a struggling defensive end and failed first-round draft pick. He was selected fourth overall, right after Calvin Johnson and Joe Thomas. Adams had a limited impact in two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before he was traded to the Chicago Bears.
Adams played 10 games for the Bears without registering a single sack. He then tragically passed away after his third season, dying of cardiac arrest.
25. Adam Carriker, DE, St. Louis Rams (13th Pick)
Adam Carriker was drafted so high due to his impressive physical tools. He’s 6’6”, 305 pounds, benched 225 pounds 33 times and topped out at 500.
He certainly hasn’t lived up to his potential, but he’s been serviceable enough to avoid an F. Carriker has started 58 games and recorded nine sacks since 2007. Other than last season’s quadriceps injury, he’s stayed healthy and played a serviceable role for two NFL teams.
24. Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Indianapolis Colts (32nd Pick)
Injuries completely decimated Anthony Gonzalez’s career, which is disappointing, because he could have been a great one. Gonzalez was drafted into the right offense with Peyton Manning, and he took over for Marvin Harrison as Harrison’s career was fading.
Gonzalez averaged 47 receptions for 620 yards and 3.5 touchdowns per campaign in 2007 and 2008. After that, he caught just five NFL passes for the rest of his career. He missed the majority of ’09 and ’10 with injuries and then played almost no role in the ’11 team.
As of now, Gonzalez is headed back to Stanford to get his master’s degree. Hopefully, more NFL players will follow Gonzalez’s example.
23. Levi Brown, OT, Arizona Cardinals (5th Pick)
Until his season-ending injury last preseason, Levi Brown had stayed remarkably healthy during his career.
He just hasn’t been that good. From 2008 through 2011, Brown allowed an average of 10 sacks per season. He also committed 31 penalties during that span, which comes out to about one every two contests.
Brown seemed to put it all together midway through 2012, though. After giving up 10 sacks in the season’s first 10 games, Brown completely turned the corner. He gave up just one sack in his final six games, excelling as both a run- and pass-blocker. That warranted the Arizona Cardinals to sign Brown to a new contract extension that will keep him in Arizona through 2016.
22. Amobi Okoye, DT, Houston Texans (10th Pick)
Interesting fact about Amobi Okoye: He’s the only teenager ever to be taken in the first round of the NFL draft.
Okoye hasn’t been a complete bust after going in the top 10 overall. But he hasn’t developed into much more than a serviceable player. Okoye started 58 of 64 games with the Houston Texans, lining up primarily at right defensive tackle. He managed 11 sacks and two forced fumbles.
Those aren’t awful numbers, but the Texans had to be hoping Okoye would team with Mario Williams to give them an absolutely ferocious defensive line. Okoye is currently with the Chicago Bears, although he played a limited role in 2012.
21. Ted Ginn, WR, Miami Dolphins (9th Pick)
Ted Ginn was a human highlight reel in college, and he was reportedly timed at 4.28 seconds in the 40-yard dash coming out of Ohio State. Ginn was picked ninth overall by a Miami Dolphins team that had just traded away Wes Welker and needed a deep speed threat.
Ginn never developed into the playmaker the Dolphins thought he would be. He didn’t have an ideal quarterback situation but he averaged just 43 receptions, 555 yards and two touchdowns per campaign from 2007 through 2009. He was eventually traded to the San Francisco 49ers, where he’s been effective as a punt returner but not as a receiver.
20. Robert Meachem, WR, New Orleans Saints (27th Pick)
It’s interesting that first-round receiver Robert Meachem never supplanted seventh-rounder Marques Colston on the New Orleans Saints.
Meachem has been productive for the Saints, but he’s just a third receiver. Meachem averaged 35 receptions, 567 yards and six touchdowns per season from 2007 to 2011. On the San Diego Chargers last year, his numbers dropped to just 14-207-2.
19. Aaron Ross, CB, New York Giants (20th Pick)
What a span of 16 months for Aaron Ross from September 2006 to January 2008. He played a key role in the University of Texas’s improbable national championship title over USC, then followed it up by playing a big role for the world champion New York Giants.
Ross was never a strong cover corner for the Giants like they hoped. He started half the ’07 season, all of 2008, none of 2009 or 2010, and then all of 2011 again. The fact that he helped the Giants win two Super Bowls does give him extra points, even if he isn’t much more than an average starting corner.
18. Reggie Nelson, S, Jacksonville Jaguars (21st Pick)
Reggie Nelson has been a quality safety for a couple of NFL teams since the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted him. He hasn’t developed into a Pro Bowler, but he’s definitely had his moments.
Nelson picked off five passes and registered 11 passes defensed as a rookie. He’s missed just five games due to injury in six NFL seasons. Since 2007, Nelson ranks tied for eighth in interceptions (16) and passes defensed (48). He’s picked up four sacks, six forced fumbles and 312 total tackles.
17. Greg Olsen, TE, Chicago Bears (31st Pick)
Greg Olsen played sparingly as a rookie behind Desmond Clark in 2007 and 2008 but took over as the full-time starter for the Chicago Bears in 2009.
Over the last four seasons, he’s been one of the league’s more productive tight ends, despite not making a Pro Bowl. He ranks 11th among tight ends in receptions, 11th in receiving yards and sixth in touchdown catches. His size, 6’6” and 254 pounds, makes him an ideal red-zone threat.
The Bears’ decision to trade Olsen to the Carolina Panthers last offseason (for just a third-round pick) is puzzling considering the lack of production Chicago got from its tight ends in 2012.
16. Brandon Meriweather, S, New England Patriots (24th Pick)
For three seasons, Brandon Meriweather was one of the top safeties in the league. He made two Pro Bowls, recorded 12 interceptions and four forced fumbles, and played 48 of a possible 48 games.
Even during that span, though, Meriweather never quite reached elite status. He was temporarily benched at the beginning of 2010, despite coming off of a Pro Bowl campaign. He’s been dealt his fair share of penalties for helmet-to-helmet hits, and the New England Patriots made him a surprise cut in 2011 final cuts.
Meriweather signed with the Chicago Bears on a one-year deal but made a very limited impact in 11 games, starting just four of those. He spent 2012 on the Washington Redskins, dealing with knee injury after knee injury.
15. LaRon Landry, S, Washington Redskins (6th Pick)
The sixth overall pick is pretty high to pick a safety, but this was the second-such top-six safety for the Washington Redskins in four years. Sean Taylor was a playmaker during his career, until it was tragically cut short.
LaRon Landry was a force for his first several years with the Redskins. His impressive physique made him a devastating hard-hitter for Washington. Landry started 47 of 48 games from 2007 through 2009, averaging 63 tackles, one sack, one interception, seven passes defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery per campaign.
He injured his Achilles tendon in ’10 and spent the next two seasons trying to recover from it. The Redskins didn’t re-sign him after his rookie contract expired, and he signed a one-year prove-it deal with the New York Jets. Landry turned in his best year yet, making his first Pro Bowl, while racking up 75 tackles, two interceptions, four forced fumbles and eight passes defensed.
14. Anthony Spencer, OLB, Dallas Cowboys (26th Pick)
The Dallas Cowboys were wise to trade into the first round back in 2007 to select Anthony Spencer. Spencer made an immediate impact as a rookie, filling in for injured veteran Greg Ellis. He picked up three sacks, two forced fumbles and 28 tackles.
Spencer became a full-time starter in ’09 and has appeared in 62 of 64 games since then. He’s one of just five linebackers in the NFL with 25 sacks and 10 forced fumbles during that span, and his 208 tackles are second-most among the group.
The Cowboys have franchised Spencer for consecutive years, but it may be wise for them to work out a long-term deal. Pass-rushers are tough to find and Dallas will need a player of Spencer’s skill to contain Robert Griffin III and the new Chip Kelly offense in Philadelphia.
13. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks (12th Pick)
Marshawn Lynch is an unusual case. He was the second-highest drafted running back in 2007 and rushed for 1,000 yards twice in three years, making a Pro Bowl and scoring 18 total touchdowns.
The emergence of Fred Jackson as a playmaker coupled with the drafting of C.J. Spiller spelled the end of Lynch in Buffalo. He was shipped off to Seattle for a couple of low draft picks. That proved to be the steal of the ages, especially when Lynch pulled off the touchdown run for the ages in a playoff stunner. That 67-yarder quite literally registered as an earthquake.
In the two years since, Lynch has made consecutive Pro Bowls, averaged 1,397 yards and 12 touchdowns per season, and done so behind an offensive line that has rated just 28th and 15th in run-blocking efficiency, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
12. Michael Griffin, S, Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans made a great pick when they selected University of Texas safety Michael Griffin. Griffin has been a six-year starter, making a Pro Bowl after the 2010 season. He hasn’t missed a single game due to injury, which is remarkable.
Griffin ranks tied for second among all safeties in interceptions (21) since 2007. He has recorded at least four in three separate seasons, topping out at seven in 2008. He’s averaged eight passes defensed during that span and recorded nine total forced fumbles, five forced fumbles and 345 total tackles. He’s also signed through the 2016 season, which makes him the longest-signed first-round defensive player from this draft (tied with Lawrence Timmons, Jon Beason and Patrick Willis).
11. Lawrence Timmons, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers (15th Pick)
Lawrence Timmons is one of a number of great Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers that have thrived under current defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.
Timmons didn’t even start for his first two NFL seasons, although he still saw action in all 32 games and made a great impact. Timmons has quietly established into one of the better 3-4 inside linebackers in the NFL over the last four seasons. He’s averaged 4.5 sacks, 1.5 interceptions, two forced fumbles and nearly 75 tackles per campaign since ’09.
Timmons has rated 10th, first, 28th and fifth among inside linebackers, per Pro Football Focus. He’s going to have an increased impact in the future, now that the Steelers have released James Harrison.
10. Leon Hall, CB, Cincinnati Bengals (18th Pick)
Leon Hall has been one of the finest cornerbacks in the NFL since the Cincinnati Bengals drafted him. He’s fifth among all corners in interceptions (22) since 2007. He’s fourth in passes defensed (89). And he’s recorded multiple interceptions in every season of his career.
Hall hasn’t made a Pro Bowl despite having been selected to both the AP All-Pro and USA Today All-Joe team. That shouldn’t negate his value, though, as he’s been a top-10 corner over the last handful of seasons.
9. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (23rd Pick)
Dwayne Bowe has played with a handful of the more mediocre quarterbacks in the game since being drafted. He’s caught passes from Damon Huard, Brodie Croyle, Tyler Thigpen, Matt Cassel, Tyler Palko, Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn. Other than a Pro Bowl campaign from Cassel in 2010, Bowe has never had a quality passer throwing to him.
Yet he’s still averaged 69 receptions, 955 receiving yards and six touchdowns per season over his six-year career. He’s made a Pro Bowl, topped 1,000 yards three times and led the league in touchdown receptions. At 6’2” and over 220 pounds, Bowe represents a big downfield target. That’s why the Kansas City Chiefs finally worked out a long-term deal with him.
8. Joe Staley, OT, San Francisco 49ers (28th Pick)
Joe Staley has quietly emerged as one of the finest offensive tackles in the league, which is good because the San Francisco 49ers traded up to select him. He’s a supreme run-blocker and good pass-blocker as well. Staley is a two-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro and he helped the 49ers reach the Super Bowl last season.
Staley has been instrumental in paving the way for the Niners’ rushing attack. That unit ranked just 27th in rushing during Staley’s first two seasons but moved up to 25th, 19th, eighth and fourth by 2012. Staley is currently signed to a long-term contract extension that will keep him in a San Francisco uniform through the ’17 season.
7. Ben Grubbs, G, Baltimore Ravens (29th Pick)
Not many guards go in the first round, but the ones that do normally work out. Ben Grubbs is no exception. He’s played in every game since being drafted, except for the six he missed in 2011 due to an ankle injury.
Grubbs is a fine pass-blocker, an equally talented run-blocker and he’s athletic enough to get downfield on screen passes. Grubbs has been to a Pro Bowl, helped his teams to the postseason four separate times and he’s played well enough that he earned a long-term contract extension with the New Orleans Saints.
6. Jon Beason, ILB, Carolina Panthers (25th Pick)
In his first four seasons in the league, Jon Beason was en route to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He started 64 of his first 64 games in the NFL. Beason averaged over 100 tackles, two interceptions and a sack per year, making three Pro Bowls and two AP All-Pro teams.
That earned him a lucrative contract extension with the Carolina Panthers that made him the highest-paid inside linebacker in NFL history. The only problem is Beason has suffered two serious knee injuries since, missing 27 of the last 32 games due to a torn Achilles tendon and then a knee injury.
5. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions (2nd Pick)
There are five first-round picks from the 2007 draft that deserve an A+. They could theoretically be arranged in any order, but I put Calvin Johnson last because he was selected the highest in the draft (which leads to the greatest expectations).
Johnson didn’t quite reach his full potential for his first several seasons before absolutely exploding in 2011 and 2012. The man they call Megatron set the all-time single-season record for receiving yards (1,964) last year, also leading the NFL with 122 receptions.
He’s just the fourth receiver in league history to catch at least 7,500 yards in his first six seasons, joining an impressive group with Randy Moss, Torry Holt and Jerry Rice. Megatron has averaged nine touchdowns per season, three times reaching 12, and topping out with 16 in 2011.
Imagine how much better he would be with a solid running game (the Detroit Lions have ranked in the bottom 10 all six seasons since ’07) and a good No. 2 threat at wide receiver.
4. Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets (14th Pick)
Fourth? It may seem low, and I’m a huge fan of the way Darrelle Revis plays the game, but he was injured for almost all of 2012. What would I rather have, six seasons of Adrian Peterson/Patrick Willis/Joe Thomas or five of Revis?
I have to take the other guys ahead of Revis. Each of the four has been arguably the best in the league at their position and will go down in the top 10 all time. I just don’t think Revis has separated the gap enough to make up for a lost season.
Revis is a four-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro and the closest thing to Deion Sanders since Sanders himself. He’s the kind of corner you can put on the other team’s No. 1 receiver, and let him do his magic.
Revis was 15th among 114 qualifying corners in passer rating allowed in 2008 (59.1). He was first with a ridiculous 32.6 mark in 2009. He was uncharacteristically 31st in 2010 (although still first in completion percentage allowed).
And he was second in 2011 with a 45.6 mark. Cornerback is probably the toughest position to play at a consistent level, year in and year out. And Revis has been a master at his craft.
3. Joe Thomas, OT, Cleveland Browns (3rd Pick)
It’s essentially a toss-up between Joe Thomas, Adrian Peterson, and Patrick Willis. I put Thomas third because the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers got better value from their draft picks by selecting lower.
In terms of performance on the field, Thomas has been a bona fide stud. He’s been to six Pro Bowls in six seasons. He’s the 16th player in NFL history to complete the 6-for-6 sweep. Thirteen of those players are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Another is Patrick Willis.
Thomas has started 96 of 96 games over the last six seasons, making him one of just 11 players to have pulled off that achievement. He’s a three-time first-team All-Pro and two-time second-team All-Pro.
Since Pro Football Focus was founded in 2008, Thomas has rated first, second, third, fifth and fifth among all offensive tackles in pass-blocking efficiency. He’s also a talented run-blocker, and he even keeps his penalties down.
2. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings (7th Pick)
Picking running backs in the first round often doesn’t pan out. Too often, teams get players like Joseph Addai, Laurence Maroney, Ronnie Brown or Jonathan Stewart.
Adrian Peterson has been the real deal, though. He was a dominant force from the time he was a rookie, setting the single-game rushing record (296 yards) in his ninth NFL game. Peterson led the league with 1,760 rushing yards by year two and topped the league with 18 rushing touchdowns in year three.
And then there’s the truly miraculous return from injury he had. AP returned faster from a torn ACL and MCL than anyone could have imagined. And he didn’t just come back to 100 percent; he was better than before.
AP rushed for 2,097 yards, coming within nine yards of setting the all-time single-season record for rushing. He carried the ball a career-high 348 times, averaging a ridiculous 6.0 yards per carry on an offense that ranked 24th in passing.
Peterson’s 76 rushing touchdowns in his first six seasons are fourth-most in history. He has the highest yards per carry (5.05) out of that group, and he’s played in the fewest games. Peterson has rushed for double-digit touchdowns in all six seasons. He’s a five-time Pro Bowler, three-time first-team All-Pro and he’s still got many good years left if last year was any indication.
1. Patrick Willis, ILB, San Francisco 49ers (12th Pick)
Since 2007, a case could be made for Patrick Willis as the single-best non-quarterback in football. Pro Football Reference uses a statistic called Approximate Value, which is essentially the NFL’s version of major league baseball’s Win Shares.
Willis’ total AV since being drafted is 92, which trails just Tom Brady and Drew Brees. The next-best defensive player in the league is at 84. The next-best player from this year’s draft class is Adrian Peterson (77).
Willis has started 96 of a possible 96 games, earning six Pro Bowls in six seasons. Five times he’s been named to the AP first-team All-Pro squad and once he was on the second-team All-Pro roster.
He’s been named the NFL Alumni Linebacker of the Year three times and was the Defensive Rookie of the Year in ’07. And he’s the only player in the league to have earned five first-team All-Pro selections in the last six seasons.
Willis is No. 1 among all defensive players in tackles (630) since 2007. The next highest total is 552. Willis is one of just two players in the league with at least seven interceptions and 15 sacks since ’07.
The other player is Lawrence Timmons, who has half the tackles and half the passes defensed as Willis. Quite simply, no one has been in Willis’ class, and he’s got a chance to be viewed as a top-three all-time linebacker by the end.