Ghosts of NFL First Rounders Past: Evaluating the 2007 Draft

Benjamin C. KleinCorrespondent IAugust 11, 2010

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 04:  Quarterback JeMarcus Russell #2 of the Oakland Raiders releases the ball  as he is pressured by linebacker Brian Cushing #56 and defensive tackle Jeff Zgonina #92 of the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on October 4, 2009 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

Grading an NFL draft pick the day after the draft is a mistake. Mario Williams’ selection as the first overall pick in 2006 had most NFL analysts laughing themselves to sleep. Two years later those same reporters had to gulp down heaping helpings of roasted crow. Don’t judge too quick.

The lesson that people should learn from the Mario Williams draft is that evaluating how a draft will turn out the day after a draft is not only impossible, but counter productive. Calling a kid a bust before he has ever stepped onto the field is insane, unfair, and cruel. I can predict a kid will be a bust, but I can’t guarantee anything.

This year Tyson Aluala of the Jacksonville Jaguars is learning that lesson. Most of the NFL mass media has already labeled him a bust. While it is true Jacksonville deserves bad grades for reaching for him, Aluala himself still has a chance to justify that pick and turn into a great player. The same could be said of Tim Tebow.

The following are draft grades for the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Given the amount of time that has passed since that draft, I think it is possible to start evaluating whether those individual picks turned out to be successes or failures.


1. Oakland Raiders- JaMarcus Russell, Quarterback, Junior, LSU

Al Davis became infatuated with Russell’s arm but ignored everything else. If the Raiders actually had a strong organization maybe they could have groomed Russell, instead they sped up his failure and ended up cutting him. This was an unheard of failure, truly legendary.

Grade: F-


2. Detroit Lions- Calvin Johnson, Wide Receiver, Junior, Georgia Tech

Johnson was perhaps the most impressive wide receiver prospect in the last decade. Aside from having some durability issues, Johnson has lived up to the hype, as he is already a scheme busting true No. 1 wide receiver.

Grade: A


3. Cleveland Browns- Joe Thomas, Left Tackle, Senior, Wisconsin

The only concern about Thomas as a prospect was that his arms were a bit short. Right now Thomas is in the discussion for being the best offensive lineman in the NFL regardless of position.

Grade: A+


4. Tampa Bay Bucs- Gaines Adams, Defensive End, Senior, Clemson

Sadly he died before he could ever become the player he had the potential to be. Still, it has to be said that for his draft position Adams did not work out with the Bucs.

Grade: D+


5. Arizona Cardinals- Levi Brown, Offensive Tackle, Senior, Penn St.

Offensive line coach Russ Grimm famously believed prior to this draft that Brown was a much better prospect than Joe Thomas. Can’t get em’ all right. Brown is a quality starter but has not lived up to his draft hype or paycheck. 

Grade: C


6. LaRon Landry, Safety, Senior, LSU

Landry is still a wildly inconsistent player. One play he makes an incredibly athletic instinctive move and the next he takes a horrible misstep and gets burned. While a quality NFL starter, he should be so much more.

Grade: C-


7. Adrian Peterson, Running Back, Junior, Oklahoma

Became one of the best running backs in the NFL from the moment he stepped onto the field. Fumbles have held him back though as a player.

Grade: A

8. Atlanta Falcons: Jamaal Anderson, Defensive End, Junior, Georgia

Anderson just doesn’t have the inner fire, competitive nature, or motor to be a quality NFL player and the Falcons should have figured that out prior to drafting him.

Grade: D+


9. Miami Dolphins: Ted Ginn Jr., Wide Receiver, Junior, Ohio State

It could have been worse; they could have drafted Brady Quinn. Still, I think Parcells made a mistake trading him this offseason, as he was the only receiver they had who possessed a complimentary skill-set to Brandon Marshall.

Grade: D


10. Houston Texans: Amobi Okoye, Defensive Tackle, Junior, Louisville

Started off with a bang as a pass rusher, but then fell off a cliff. However, he is a quality two down run stuffing lineman. That’s not what he was supposed to be.

Grade: C-

11. San Francisco 49ers: Patrick Willis, Inside Linebacker, Senior, Ole’ Miss

Entered the draft as perhaps the best inside linebacker prospect since Ray Lewis. Has started off his NFL career with Ray Lewis like stats.

Grade: A+


12. Buffalo Bills: Marshawn Lynch, Running Back, Junior, California

Started off his career with a bang, but it has dissolved into a thud. I recommend that they get divorced.

Grade: C


13. St. Louis Rams: Adam Carriker, Defensive Lineman, Senior, Nebraska

The word on Carriker entering the draft was that he would be perfect as a 3-4 defensive end. So instead the Rams drafted him for their 4-3. To top it off he can’t stay healthy and got traded for peanuts.

Grade: F


14. New York Jets: Darrelle Revis, Cornerback, Junior, Pittsburgh

Little known fact, the Giants and Jets were engaged in a bidding war in this draft to move up to get Revis. I think its safe to say the Jets won on every possible level with this selection.

Grade: A+

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Lawrence Timmons, Junior, Florida State

Timmons is developing into a whirling dervish for the Steelers. If he blitzes, he’s a nightmare, if he drops into coverage he is a beast. Needs work on stopping the run.

Grade: B+

16. Green Bay Packers: Justin Harrell, Senior, Tennessee

The only people convinced that Harrell’s health and level of play in college was worthy of a first round selection apparently all work in Green Bay.

Grade: F


17. Denver Broncos: Jarvis Moss, Defensive End, Junior, Florida

Some believe it to be a minor miracle that Moss hasn’t already been cut from the Broncos.

Grade: D


18. Cincinnati Bengals: Leon Hall, Cornerback, Senior, Michigan

Hall has no weaknesses as a player. Supports the run with gusto and operates on an island with little to no safety help. Has an old school feel to his game.

Grade: A


19. Tennessee Titans: Michael Griffin, Safety, Senior, Texas

There were rumors the Titans drafted Griffin to play cornerback. It sounded too dumb to be true, but it was, they tried him at corner early in his career. It couldn’t be more obvious he is a safety.

Grade: A-

20. New York Giants: Aaron Ross, Cornerback, Senior, Texas

Might not ever be a Pro Bowl player, but he is above average in every respect and is the type of player any NFL team would want.

Grade: B-


21. Jacksonville Jaguars: Reggie Nelson, Safety, Senior, Florida

Started off with a bang, but his play level has fallen off a cliff. He might not even see field this season except in sub packages.

Grade: D+


22. Cleveland Browns: Brady Quinn, Quarterback, Senior, Notre Dame

The Browns had Quinn listed as a top five prospect on their big board. How? His lack of accuracy in college inspired no confidence that he was NFL material.

Grade: F

23. Kansas City Chiefs: Dwyane Bowe, Wide Receiver, Senior, LSU

While he has shown promise, he needs to start taking himself seriously as a professional athlete. Attending Larry Fitzgerald wide receiver camp was a good start.

Grade: B


24. New England Patriots: Brandon Meriweather, Safety, Senior, Miami

Has to be considered one of the top five safeties in the NFL right now.

Grade: A

25. Carolina Panthers: Jon Beason, Linebacker, Senior, Miami

Might be the second best inside linebacker in the NFL, but for some reason the Panthers are moving him to the weakside this year. Short sighted but he should still excel.

Grade: A


26. Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Spencer, Outside Linebacker, Senior, Purdue

His career started off slow, but at the end of last season, teams were double teaming him along with DeMarcus Ware. Appears primed for a bust out season of pure terror.

Grade: B


27. New Orleans Saints: Robert Meachem, Wide Receiver, Junior, Tennessee

Started off so slow it made you think he might never get off the bench. Slowly developing into an elite deep threat.

Grade: B-

28. San Francisco 49ers: Joe Staley, Left Tackle, Senior Central Michigan

Staley is an above average pass blocker and a good run blocker. He has unique ability to seal the edge against true speed demons, but struggles with the bull rush.

Grade: B


29. Baltimore Ravens: Ben Grubbs, Offensive Guard, Senior, Auburn

Easily one of the top five guards in the NFL. Just knowing that Ozzie Newsome drafted him in the first round should be enough for people to know the pick will pan out.

Grade: A


30. San Diego Chargers: Craig “Buster” Davis, Wide Receiver, Junior, LSU

This was one of the early warning signs that Chargers GM A.J. Smith was losing his sanity due to his overinflated ego. I wouldn’t be surprised if other NFL team’s war rooms erupted in laughter when the selection was announced.

Grade: F-


31. Chicago Bears: Greg Olson, Tight End, Junior, Miami

Has started off well, but his production is about to fall off a cliff. Honestly if Mike Martz refused to use Vernon Davis, perhaps the most physically talented tight end of all time, than what on earth will he do with Olson?

Grade: B


32. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Gonzalez, Wide Receiver, Senior, Ohio State

Injuries have held him back, but he has shown considerable promise. However, this might be something of a make or break year for him.

Grade: C+