Sipping Purple Drank: Regrading the First Round of the 2007 NFL Draft
It has now been three full seasons since the 2007 NFL Draft occurred. For those of you who can't put faces on this particular year, this is the draft where JaMarcus Russell's athleticism was supposed to impress everyone for years to come, and we all laughed at the plight of Brady Quinn as he nervously wiggled in his chair before being landed by the team who wanted him most, Cleveland.
But what none of us like to remember is the longevity of this first round. Six hours and eight minutes of nothing but talk about predictions by talking heads, the likes of Mel Kiper's hair and Todd McShay's boyish charm, in which all grades of A's or B's were given to soothe all the fans hopes that they got their guy.
However, after three years, it's time to give a true grade to these First Round draft picks and determine who picked correctly, who has the potential for greatness, and who simply bombed out on their selection. And if you're curious why this isn't a slide-show, it's because you're an adult and shouldn't need a picture-book.
No. 1 Oakland Raiders JaMarcus Russell (QB) (LSU)
Ah good ole JaMarbust Russell. I believe for weeks all we heard about was how this mediocre college player's amazing athleticism mirrored Steve McNair's and was going to be a cornerstone of the future. His pro day was frequently cited as an example of his commitment to the NFL, he lost weight at an incredible level for the scouts and was able to bill himself as any team's necessity for future success.
What is the biggest draft of 2007 (Not named Russell)
How'd that turn out?
Well after three years in the league, Russell got his walking papers from the Raiders after a season during which he had the lowest Quarterback Rating, Completion Percentage, fewest passing yards, and fewest years left on his life thanks to his obesity. Adding to this problem is the recent criminal investigation related to Codeine syrup, in which Russell is certain to lose millions from the team that drafted him.
No. 2 Detroit Lions Calvin Johnson (WR) (Georgia Tech)
After years of picking problem wide receivers, the likes of Charles Rogers and Mike "18 Hamburgers for Breakfast" Williams, or mediocrity in the form of Roy Williams, the Lions finally grabbed the playmaker they were looking for in Johnson.
His success in the NFL is unsurprising, as he frequently showed amazing ability in college, having to catch ducks three yards out of bounds thrown by Reggie Ball. In three short years, Johnson has 193 catches and over 3000 receiving yards to go with his 21 touchdowns. These stats are even more astounding when considering as to how problematic the quarterback position has been for Detroit the past few seasons.
The only problem with this pick is wide receiver as a "necessity" position. An 0-16 season in 2008 showed that the Lions certainly had more needs than wide receiver, and a possible Hall of Fame left tackle picked just minutes later would have been the perfect vaccine for a potentially terrible year.
No. 3 Cleveland Browns Joe Thomas (LT) (Wisconsin)
Ladies and gentleman, you have your best player from the 2007 Draft on the offensive end. When this draft pick came up, everyone assumed that the Browns would certainly take hometown boy Brady Quinn, with the hopes he'd be a miracle worker.
The Browns chose wisely by passing on Quinn for now and grabbing the absolutely cornerstone of every team in Joe Thomas. In his all of his three years in the league, Thomas has made the Pro Bowl and was a first team All-Pro this past season. Cleveland may not have many glorious moments the past few seasons, but in years to come, this player will be at the centerpiece of some
No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Gaines Adams (DE) (Clemson)
Adams was a player marred by problems, both on and physically off the field. A tragic player in both aspects who was compared to Julius Peppers in the pre-draft process, Adams simply had too much weight put on his shoulders and could never achieve all of the expectations given to him before his tragic death this past January. 13.5 Sacks in three years is not very good for a defensive end, but there have been worse draft picks.
Contributer's Note: There have been a lot of questions about my grade given to Gaines Adams. I was simply weighing him based on his actions on the field, and my thoughts certainly go out to his family. I'm grading the draft selection by the Bucs, not the player itself. I apologize if this seemed in poor taste.
No. 5 Arizona Cardinals Levi Brown (RT) (Penn State)
Levi Brown brought with him as much hype as Joe Thomas, except a player that could block on the right for a left-handed quarterback in Matt Leinart. The unfortunate reality is both players face uncertain futures, as neither has lived up to their potential. Brown has started every game the past two years, but has been average in every aspect of his game.
The verdict is very much still out on if Brown can be a player equal to his high draft pick. Still though, any player that contributes to bringing a perennial doormat to the Super Bowl deserves some sort of recognition.
No. 6 Washington Redskins LaRon Landry (SS) (LSU)
Speaking of mediocrity, the Redskins selected LaRon Landry with the sixth pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Landry has shown flashes of brilliance, including a 12 tackle and one sack performance against the Saints. Too bad that he plays at the safety position and not linebacker, because this generally translates into bad coverage skills.
Much like fellow former Washington Redskins teammate, Sean Taylor, Landry finds himself criticized often for his inability to wrap up, while in turn going for the big hit. Landry is nothing more than a poorer version of what Roy Williams was for the Cowboys, and that just isn't gonna cut it as a safety. In addition, the sixth pick implies a weak team and safety is certainly not a need position to improve wins.
No. 7 Minnesota Vikings Adrian Peterson (RB) (Oklahoma)
Owner of the single game rushing record and two All-Pro team selections, Adrian Peterson has certainly lived up to his billing as an athlete who was deserving of this high selection. Peterson came out like a house on fire, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year, and through the last three years he has a ridiculous 4.9 yards per carry and 40 rushing touchdowns.
The only knock on Peterson's game is his often-quoted strong handshake has yet to formally introduce itself to the pigskin and, subsequently, the ball frequently ends up on the ground. At the age of 25, All Day has plenty of time to fix this problem.
No. 8 Atlanta Falcons Jamaal Anderson (DE) (Arkansas)
Jamaal Anderson has been a massive bust in the NFL. This past season the Falcons moved him to defensive tackle, where he didn't do as terrible as he did as an end, but this player certainly shouldn't have been picked as high as he was in this draft. To put how bad he has been in perspective, he has 2.5 sacks in his three years in the league. Yikes.
No. 9 Miami Dolphins Tedd Ginn, Jr. (WR) (Ohio State)
"He's not even ready," was shouted at the press conference by Dolphins fans when this pick happened. They were right.
No. 10 Houston Texans Amobi Okoye (DT) (Louisville)
Okoye may not get a lot of NFL headlines or fill up the stat-sheet, but he is an anchor on a great young defense and is certain to get more attention in the future.
At the age of 23, Okoye has already helped to establish himself as one of the best young defensive tackles in the league, helping to free up Mario Williams and allow the young line-backing core to roam behind him. While not showing amazing ability in the area of sacks (he only has eight in three years), he is able to make everyone around him better.
No. 11 San Francisico 49ers Patrick Willis (MLB) (Mississippi)
Patrick Willis is one of the two best young middle linebacker in the league, and certainly the best in run defense. Making the All-Pro team twice already in his three year career, Willis's strength is his ability to make the big play at the right time, mirroring Ray Lewis in his prime. While tackles aren't an official stat and are by far the most over-rated statistic calculated in the NFL, Willis has 453 of them during his three years in the league. He certainly deserved that huge raise the 49ers just gave him this past May.
No. 12 Buffalo Bills Marshawn Lynch (RB) (California)
The former Cal running back brought with him loads of potential, but also several off-the-field concerns. He has lived up to this pre-draft assessment by being a problem for opposing defenses, but his own front office as well.
Lynch has 2601 yards and 17 TDs in his three short years in the league and has shown flashes for the Buffalo Bills, but off the field antics, including a hit-and-run, loaded gun issues, and theft at a mall have resulted in Lynch losing his job to upstart pick Fred Jackson. The recent selection of C.J. Spiller shows how truly committed the Bills are to their former tailback.
No. 13 St. Louis Rams Adam Carriker (DT/DE) (Nebraska)
Adam Carriker had a decent rookie year, moving from the end position to tackle and freeing up other defenders in the Rams defense. However, since then, Carriker has had problems against opposing offensive lines and injuries leading to his eventual trade to the Washington Redskins this past April. While not exactly the bust, which his former teammate Chris Long looks headed towards being labeled as, the Rams certainly would go back in time and change this pick if they could.
No. 14 New York Jets Darrelle Revis (CB) (Pittsburgh)
Joe Thomas may be the best offensive player in this draft by a limited margin, but it's not even close on defense. Over the last three years, Revis has established himself as the best pure shutdown corner in this league, much in the mold of Deion Sanders and Champ Bailey in their primes.
It is astounding to think of the amount of talent Revis played this past year, shutting them all out in basic man-on-man coverage and resulting in both an All-Pro selection and the AFC Defensive Player of the Year award. His interception count of 14 is a little less than expected, but when considering no quarterback ever throws his way, this number is just as staggering. Revis just turned 25, so his ceiling is still higher than the sky itself.
No. 15 Pittsburgh Steelers Lawrence Timmons (LB) (Florida State)
Lawrence Timmons has improved every year in the league, playing at all four linebacking positions for the Steelers. After having a disappointing rookie season, the former Florida State star amassed 12 sacks the last two years and five forced fumbles. A little unexpectedly, Timmons has done fairly well in pass coverage, breaking up four passes this past season and frequently defending the opposition's tight end on shorter routes. Timmons is primed for a breakout campaign this year, and his grade will only increase.
No. 16 Green Bay Packers Justin Harrell (DT) (Tennessee)
As with many 2007 first rounders, Justin Harrell has been a massive bust in the NFL. He only had 18 total tackles his first two years in the league, and this past year, he spent all 16 games on injured reserve. The most scathing mark is the selection of B.J. Raiji by the Packers only two years later to replace the problematic player.
No. 17 Denver Broncos Jarvis Moss (DE) (Florida)
I think the problem with 2007 amounts to the fact that the defensive line was far worse this year than it has been in the past, so teams reached on players for a position of need.
Jarvis Moss is another example of such a reach, as he only has 3.5 sacks in his three years in the league. Unlike Elvis Dumervil, who has worked hard for Denver since being a fourth round pick the previous year, Moss suffered from a sense of entitlement and has chosen to not work hard in achieving a position on the team. He will soon have to start working for a different employer.
No. 18 Cincinnati Bengals Leon Hall (CB) (Michigan)
Darrell Revis may get all of the headlines, but Leon Hall is also a great cornerback from this draft. Partnered with Johnathan Joseph, the Bengals have a young secondary which is arguably the best in the league at this point. Hall had stellar year this past season with 71 tackles, two forced fumbles, six touchdowns, and a staggering 24 pass deflections, yet did not make the Pro Bowl. This was a slam dunk pick by Cincinnati, who lately has shown that they can select great defensive talent.
No. 19 Tennessee Titans Michael Griffin (S) (Texas)
Michael Griffin is a rare safety in this league; he's better in coverage than in tackling. This is a trait which helped the Titans in 2008, when the safety picked off eight passes and helped the team achieve the best regular season record in the NFL. He had a slight decline, along with the rest of Tennessee this past year, but that's more a problem of Griffin trying to do too much. Griffin has too often gone for the big hit sometimes, and he has certainly helped the Titans create one of the best secondaries in the league.
No. 20 New York Giants Aaron Ross (CB) (Texas)
Ross has been the ultimate feast or famine corner since entering the league from Texas. The player only has six interceptions, but this is more a testament to his coverage skills than anything, forcing quarterbacks to throw against the other corner in the Giants lineup. One cannot ignore the absolutely miserable Super Bowl performance by Ross, in which Wes Welker was beating him on every single play. Still though, Ross is a freakish athlete, and as the Giants regain their pass rush, Ross is sure to regain his form.
No. 21 Jacksonville Jaguars Reggie Nelson (S) (Florida)
Reggie Nelson's rookie campaign showed much promise for the Gator formally nicknamed the Eraser, for his ability to wipe out the big play. However, his stats have only decreased since then, and his inability to play in NFL's man-coverage schemes has allowed teams to exploit a major weakness at the safety position.
A decline in production from a player normally implies a lack of preparation, which is a shame because Nelson has amazing athletic ability. The verdict is very much still out on Reggie Nelson
Grade: C -
No. 22 Cleveland Browns Brady Quinn (QB) (Notre Dame)
After picking Joe Thomas earlier, the Browns traded back into the first round to get their hometown boy. Brady Quinn's career, however, has been anything but first round quality. Injuries and a quarterback competition with Derek Anderson have resulted in limited playing time for former the Notre Dame star, normally meaning that the quarterback will never get a real chance in this league (see Ramsey, Patrick).
He was recently traded to Denver and was looking to get a second chance, until the Broncos selected Tebow in the first round this past NFL draft. Quinn will need to save his career, but there is no saving this terrible draft pick.
No. 23 Kansas City Chiefs Dwayne Bowe (WR) (LSU)
Unlike the other LSU failures of the 2007 NFL Draft's first round, Bowe is a bright shining light at his position. Bowe had a great rookie and sophomore campaigns, receiving over 2000 yards and 12 TDs, to go with his 156 catches. This past year, however, Bowe was suspended for using a steroid-masking agent, and, coupled with a terrible Chiefs offense, his numbers declined. Still though, Bowe's ceiling is very high and one can expect big things from the tall wideout.
No. 24 New England Patriots Brandon Meriweather (S) (Miami)
Meriweather is no Lawyer Milloy or Rodney Harrison, but he is a decent player in the Patriots system. Typical Boston Homers will point to his high tackle mark as a strong indicator of success, but these are so high because of his inability to play well in coverage (and further showing the problem on keeping tackles as a statistic). Meriweather has improved every year in the league, however, and has not been a bust at this position by any means.
A major problem is that Meriweather is a dime-a-dozen player at a dime-a-dozen position, and certainly wasn't a "need" for the Patriots. He's been a far better player than other draft picks the Patriots have selected lately, so that is a credit to him.
No. 25 Carolina Panthers Jon Beason (MLB) (Miami)
Patrick Willis would be a slam-dunk middle linebacker in any draft if it weren't for Jon Beason. Beason is the best cover linebacker in this league and has been a superstar in the young Panthers defense. Two Pro Bowls and one All-Pro selection on the resume, to go with his seven interceptions, means that the Panthers are set in the middle for years to come.
The only knock on Beason is he's not as good as Willis, but neither is any other middle linebacker at this point. A solid No. 2 will work just fine for anyone in Carolina's organization.
No. 26 Dallas Cowboys Anthony Spencer (DE) (Purdue)
Spencer had a disappointing first two years in the league, before exploding onto the scene this past year and making Sports Illustrated's All-Pro team. A conversion to outside linebacker has proved to be the correct move for Spencer, who began to come on at the end of 2009 and accounted for four sacks in the last three games. At 6'3" and 255 lbs, Spencer's potential is enormous and he looks ready to meet the high goals laid upon him—he just hasn't yet.
No. 27 New Orleans Saints Robert Meachem (WR) (Tennessee)
Meachem looked primed and ready for his bust label, as a variety of weapons for Drew Brees to throw to meant the former Tennessee star was never going to get a fair shot.
Well this past year, Meachem replied with a stellar campaign of over 700 yards and nine touchdowns, to go with the Super Bowl ring he received in February. Meachem's hard work is best exemplified in a game against the Redskins this past season, during which he forced a fumble after an interception by Kareem Moore, which he returned for a touchdown.
A major problem with this pickup in hindsight is it certainly didn't fill a need for the Saints and they should have gone in a different direction.
No. 28 San Francisco 49ers Joe Staley (LT) (Central Michigan)
Staley has been a solid player on the line for the 49ers, allowing only 19.5 sacks in the 41 games he has played for San Francisco. An injury this past season kept him out of the lineup for the last six games of the year, but the future is still bright for the former Chippewa. The focus on the Offensive Line this past draft means Frank Gore has a lot to be excited about for this coming year.
No. 29 Baltimore Ravens Ben Grubbs (LG) (Auburn)
Benn Grubbs may not get the headlines or be the movie inspiration that other Ravens are, but he has been a very solid player for Baltimore and has been central to their current success. Grubbs, along with Oher and Gaither, have all been great picks by the Ravens, creating one of the best young offensive lines in the game.
No. 30 San Diego Chargers Craig/Buster Davis (WR) (LSU)
Buster Davis has JaMarcus Russell to thank for two reasons. First, he gave him the statistics necessary to appear as a great player for the pros at LSU. Second, Russell takes away the headlines of biggest 2007 draft bust away from him, so he can't be as embarrassed as he ought to be. If you forgot who Davis was, that's okay, since the Chargers did too.
No. 31 Chicago Bears Greg Olsen (TE) (Miami)
Olsen has improved every year in this league, being named a second alternate to the Pro Bowl this past season after a 60 catch, eight touchdown season with Jay Cutler at the helm of his offense. Olsen is another great Miami tight end, in the mold of Kellen Winslow and Jeremy Shockey, certain to be a focal point of the offense in years to come. The Bears make great draft picks when they don't trade them away.
No. 32 Indianapolis Colts Anthony Gonzalez (WR) (Ohio State)
Gonzalez was a rising star heading into the 2009 season, having increased his statistics each of his first two years before Marvin Harrison was released. However, an injury in the first game meant that Gonzalez was forced to watch the Colts run to the Super Bowl from the sidelines, as young players Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie picked up where he left off.
The main problem with this draft pick isn't that Gonzalez won't be a good player, it's that Manning could have four 3'0" third graders as his receiving core. The Colts are a solid team, but every team has certain needs. This was certainly not a need area.
Overall, this draft was pretty average at best. The offensive line players have panned out very nicely, and those in the secondary have certainly been quality players. Still, the defensive line has been particularly dreadful, and certain teams picked players they did not need in hindsight. If nothing else, it's certainly not as bad as the 2005 Draft.
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