Football has overcome American society and culture and has emerged as "America's true pass-time".
What differentiates football from other sports is the uniqueness and specialization of the positions.
While in basketball, soccer, hockey etc, everyone essentially does the same thing and has similar roles, in football this is not the case . . . for the most part.
This makes evaluating talent and conducting a successful draft so much more difficult, and it's certainly not an exact science.
Many believe that to rationally and accurately evaluate a draft class, you have to do it 2-3 years after the fact to see how the talent turns out.
I've taken it upon myself to conduct a re-draft for the first round of the 2007 class to determine where each player should have gone, with hind-sight of course being 20/20.
Now, a general formula for success when building a team is getting a powerful OT to protect the quarterback's blind side, a shut-down cornerback, an unstoppable pass-rushing DE/OLB or DT, and of course, a great quarterback, so these positions are heavier weighted than the others.
Note: I did not draft any player based on a specific team's needs. I drafted each player based on an individual performance and the importance of their position independently of the team drafting.
Original 1st Pick: JaMarcus Russell, QB LSU
Originally Picked: 1st Round, 3rd overall by the Cleveland Browns.
According to ProFootballFocus.com, Joe Thomas is currently the best offensive tackle in the NFL.
In three seasons, he's been a Pro Bowl selection all three years.
He was a Second Team All Pro in 2008, and a First Team All Pro in 2009, when he allowed an NFL-best 4 sacks.
Joe Thomas is a stud, and it has only taken him 3 seasons to be considered among the best in the game.
Original #2 Pick: Calvin Johnson, WR Georgia Tech Yellowjackets
Originally Picked: 1st Round, 7th overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings
It takes a special player to bypass the good big time position players (OT, CB, DE/DT, QB), and Adrian Peterson is that.
He was the offensive rookie of the year in 2007 and is the only offensive member of this class to be selected to the All Pro team in each of his three years, including first Team in 2008 and 2009.
During his brief stint in the league thus far, Peterson has finished 2nd, 1st, and 5th in the NFL in rushing yards, and averages 4.9 yards per carry for his career.
Original #3 Pick: Joe Thomas, OT Wisconsin
Originally Picked: 1st Round, 14th overall by the New York Jets
Darrelle Revis has emerged as the premier shutdown corner in the NFL.
He's fast, athletic, can shadow a receiver better than any other, and has excellent ball skills to boot.
Many believe that he was most deserving of the NFL Defensive MVP in 2009, when he finished 2nd to Charles Woodson.
Not that he was too overlooked, as he did finish as the AFC Defensive MVP.
He's been selected to two Pro Bowls and was First Team All Pro in 2009.
Original #4 Pick: Gaines Adams, DE Clemson
Originally Picked: 1st Round, 11th overall by the San Fransisco 49ers
Talk about a stud linebacker.
Patrick Willis has gone to the Pro Bowl all three years and has been selected First Team All Pro in 2007 and 2009 and to the Second team in 2008.
He's an athletic phenom, runs a sub 4.4 40, and is in a perfect situation being mentored by 49ers' head coach and Hall-of-Fame inside linebacker, Mike Singletary.
As a rookie, he led the NFL in tackles, with 174, earning him other honors, like the 2007 NFL Alumni Linebacker of the Year, which is voted on by former NFL players.
Willis is the undisputed leader of the 49ers' defense, and in his three NFL seasons, he's finished 1st, 2nd, and 1st in total tackles.
He's only been around for three seasons and is already arguably the best inside linebacker in the NFL.
Original #5 Pick: Levi Brown, OT Penn State
Originally Picked: 2nd Round, 46th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers
"Guns don't kill people, LaMarr Woodley kills people" was a popular quote from this Michigan fan web log in 2006, Woodley's senior season at Michigan.
It couldn't have been more accurate.
Woodley has been the best pass rusher out of this class by far and was certainly the first true steal out of this draft.
He has 29 career sacks, 25 of which have come during the past two seasons.
He was selected to the 2009 Pro Bowl and was Second Team All Pro in 2009 as well.
During the postseason, Woodley has only gotten better.
He currently holds the record as the only player in NFL history to record multiple sacks in three consecutive playoff games, helping lead the Steelers defense to the 2008 Super Bowl victory.
Original Pick #6: LaRon Landry S LSU
Originally Picked: 1st Round, 18th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals
Leon Hall is widely considered to be one of the best corners in the game today.
He doesn't break on the ball as fast as Charles Woodson, nor does he play the run as physically.
He doesn't shade receivers as well as Revis, nor is he as fast, but he possesses excellent ball skills and good tackling technique.
He was selected to the USA Today All-Joe Team for his 2009 prowess, and Sports Illustrated's Peter King declared the Bengals' corners, "the best cornerback tandem in the NFL."
Original #7 Pick: Adrian Peterson, RB Oklahoma
Originally Picked: 1st Round, 25th pick overall by the Carolina Panthers
Unlike Patrick Willis, Jon Beason isn't going to "wow" anyone with other worldly athleticism.
He just has a nose for the football, and gets the job done.
He made the the Pro Bowl in 2008 and 2009, and he was selected as a First Team All Pro in 2008 and a Second Team All Pro in 2009.
He finished his rookie season with 140 tackles, second behind Patrick Willis for rookies, and maintained that consistency with 138 and 141 tackles in '08 and '09 respectively.
Original #8 Pick: Jamaal Anderson, DE Arkansas
Originally Picked: 2nd Round, 47th overall by the New York Jets
Like Jon Beason, David Harris has amazing instincts and helps make this draft one of the best drafts for inside linebackers in recent history.
Considered by many to be the leader of the Jets' defense, in 2009 he was the leading tackler on the No. 1 defense in the NFL, totaling 127.
You knew he was going to be good after watching his first two performances.
He didn't play right away but "hit the ground running" so to speak with 17 tackles in his first start and 24 tackles the following week.
In only 9 starts, Harris totaled 127 tackles his rookie season.
He is regarded as one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL, and was honored with a Second All Pro Team selection for his performance in 2009.
He hasn't played in any Pro Bowls, but he will.
Harris is a special player and could end up being the best linebacker from this class.
Original #9 Pick: Ted Ginn Jr, WR Ohio State Buckeyes
Originally Picked: 1st Round, 24th overall pick by the San Fransisco 49ers
In what turned out to be an exceedingly successful draft for the 49ers, Joe Staley has been their most productive offensive linemen.
A freakish athlete in his own right, Staley could become a perennial Pro Bowler if he is able stay healthy.
Staley is helping solidify a once horrendous offensive line, and in 41 starts in 3 seasons, he has only allowed 19.5 sacks and only 3 sacks in 9 starts in 2009 (to put that in perspective, First Team All Pro OT Ryan Clady allowed 8 sacks last season).
To demonstrate how freakish of an athlete Staley really is, at 6'5, 315lbs, he runs a 4.70 40 and ran a 21.9 second 200m dash in high school.
Photo taken from www.49ers.com
Original #10 Pick: Amobe Okoye, DT Louisville
Originally Picked: 1st Round, 5th overall by the Arizona Cardinals
Levi Brown is the first player thus far who was over drafted.
He wasn't a bad selection.
He's a solid, productive offensive tackle worthy of a top 10 pick.
He's started 27 games in his career, played in 29, and he's the most dependable offensive linemen at the most important position on the Cardinals' offensive line.
Original #11 Pick: Patrick Willis, LB Ole Miss
Originally Picked: 1st Round, 2nd overall by the Detroit Lions
Calvin Johnson hasn't done much to prove he should have gone this high, but it's not completely his fault, and his undeniable athleticism keeps him in the first half of the first round.
He's spent time being double and triple teamed, on a horrendous team with a bad offensive line, with no viable second option, a weak running game, and questionable quarterback play AT BEST.
He might be the most athletic player in the NFL, but he has been injury-prone, so this season should be more telling of what kind of a player he'll be.
He'll play with a decent quarterback, who has a decent offensive line, and there are currently some other viable options on offense to detract some of the attention he's seen.
Original #12 Pick: Marshawn Lynch, RB California
Originally Picked: 2nd Round, 36th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles
Kolb hasn't proven a ton thus far and probably deserves an incomplete, but this just goes to show how important having a competent quarterback really is, and he's at least demonstrated that much.
Kolb was the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 300 yards in his first two career starts.
He will lead the Eagles as the full time starter in 2010, and we'll be able to tell better if he deserved a top 15 draft pick.
Original #13 Pick: Adam Carriker, DT Nebraska
Originally Picked: 2nd Round, 51st overall by the New York Giants
In 2008, despite playing behind both Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress, Smith was still able to lead the Giants in receptions.
He came into the league viewed as a Wes Welker-esque third down possession receiver, but he has emerged as one of the premier dependable dump-off guys in the game today.
At USC, he played in Dwayne Jarrett's 6'4" prototypical NFL-bodied shadow.
He's undersized at 5'11, but he works hard, runs crisp routes, and gets open, something his college teammate has struggled to do so far.
In 2009, he was selected to go to the Pro Bowl after gaining over 1,200 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns.
Original #14 Pick: Darrelle Revis, CB Pittsburgh Panthers
Originally Picked: 2nd Round, 44th overall by the Minnesota Vikings
Rice is a big receiver with great hands.
He has good speed and also runs good routes.
In each season, he had solid production, blowing up in 2009 with over 1,300 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns, earning him a trip to the Pro Bowl.
The only thing holding him back is he's been injury-prone. He injured his knee in his first two seasons and recently injured his hip and might miss half of this season.
Original #15 Pick: Lawrence Timmons, LB Florida State
Originally Picked: 1st Round, 29th overall pick by the Baltimore Ravens
Already considered one of the best guards in the NFL, Grubbs' best days are ahead of him.
He helped bring about the emergence of Ray Rice last year and is a big part of one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.
So far, he's played in 48 games and started in 44.
Original #16 Pick: Justin Harrell, DT Tennessee
Originally Picked: Undrafted, signed as a free agent with the New Orleans Saints
Pierre Thomas might have been the biggest steal in the 2007 draft, which coincidentally didn't include him.
From day one, he has been a productive, hard-working versatile back.
He's been Drew Brees' most consistent weapon out of the backfield and is just as likely to catch a pass out of the backfield and score as he is to run it and score.
He was instrumental in the Saints' Superbowl victory over the Indianapolis Colts, contributing 85 total yards from scrimmage, including a touchdown on a 16-yard screen pass.
Original #17 Pick: Jarvis Moss, DE Florida
Originally Picked: 2nd Round, 59th overall by the Carolina Panthers
The Panthers have shown prowess in this draft, getting some steals.
Ryan Kalil is no exception, and has emerged as the anchor to a powerful offensive line.
For his efforts, he was selected as an alternate to the 2010 Pro Bowl.
He helped lead the way for two running backs to top 1,100 yards in the same season in 2009.
Original #18 Pick: Leon Hall, CB Michigan
Originally Picked: 1st Round, 6th overall by the Washington Redskins
Landry was taken as the first overall safety because of his physical play, and he's been a ball hawk ever since.
He's started from day one and is able to play both strong and free safety.
In three years in the NFL, Landry has recorded 239 tackles, 3.0 sacks, and 3 interceptions.
Because of his exceptional play as a rookie, he was selected as an alternate for the Pro Bowl after the 2007 season.
Original #19 Pick: Michael Griffin, S Texas
Originally Picked: 1st Round, 23rd overall by the Kansas City Chiefs
Dwayne Bowe is a gifted receiver.
He had almost a thousand yards receiving as a rookie, but he toppled the 1,000-yard mark as a sophomore. He leads all members of this class not named Calvin Johnson with 16 receiving touchdowns.
He has good size and blazing fast speed.
The biggest thing holding him back is potentially his off-the-field issues.
Last season, the NFL suspended him for four games for the use of a diuretic that can be used as a masking agent for anabolic steroids.
Teams might shy away from him if they think he's at risk to bring more problems with him off the field.
Original #20 Pick: Aaron Ross, CB Texas
Originally Picked: 2nd Round, 39th overall pick of the Atlanta Falcons
Blalock is emerging as a dominant force.
He's started 41 games since entering the league and is the only offensive lineman from this class to score a touchdown.
He's physical and moves well and has been a big reason for the success of Michael Turner and Justin Snelling.
Original #21 Pick: Reggie Nelson, S Florida
Originally Picked: 2nd Round, 34th overall by the Buffalo Bills
Originally, scouts declared Posluszny a mid-1st round pick, and that's exactly where he should have gone.
As a rookie, he started from day one and was tied with a certain Patrick Willis for most tackles for rookies when he broke his forearm in Week 3.
In 2008, he returned with a vengeance, recording 129 tackles, a forced fumble, an interception, and was named the Bills' defensive MVP.
In 2009, Poszluzny re-injured his arm but was able to return after several weeks and started in 11 games.
Despite only 11 starts, he caused six turnovers, which was tied for first among inside linebackers.
Injury concerns are the only thing keeping him down right now.
Original #22 Pick: Brady Quinn, QB Notre Dame
Originally Picked: 1st Round, 26th overall by the Dallas Cowboys
Spencer is the perfect complementing pass rusher.
He might even be more talented than Gaines Adams, the 4th overall pick in this draft.
For his career, he's accumulated 137 tackles, 10.5 sacks, and an interception, playing opposite Demarcus Ware on passing downs.
Original #23 Pick: Dwayne Bowe, WR LSU
Originally Picked: 1st Round, 19th overall by the Tennessee Titans
Michael has already had a productive NFL career.
He has the skill set and versatility to play both corner and either safety position.
He's a competent starter and a potential star.
In 2008, he helped the Titans to have the best defense in the NFL with 81 tackles, 7 interceptions, and 1 sack, earning him a starting spot in the Pro Bowl due to an injury to Ed Reed.
Original #24 Pick: Brandon Meriweather, S Miami(FL)
Originally Picked: 1st Round, 24th overall by the New England Patriots
Meriweather is a conundrum but also a stud football player.
There are concerns about his off-the-field issues, but his production is undeniable.
After earning the starting spot in 2008, he recorded 83 tackles, 4 interceptions, and 2 sacks.
The following year, he more than duplicated his 2008 performance, and finished with 83 tackles and 5 interceptions, earning a spot in the Pro Bowl for the injured Jairus Byrd.
A shooting incident in college and the infamous Miami(FL)-FIU brawl where he was seen stomping on FIU players would be enough to keep most NFL teams away, but nevertheless, he is a rare talent.
Original #25 Pick: Jon Beason, LB Miami(FL)
Originally Picked: 2nd Round, 55th overall by the Seattle Seahawks
Wilson is a solid, competent cornerback and a very good return specialist on special teams.
As a rookie seeing very limited playing time at corner, he returned one kickoff return for a touchdown and another 72-yd return that set up a touchdown.
In his second season, he had a breakout year, recording 76 tackles, 4 interception, 1 interception returned for a touchdown, and 1 sack.
For his career, he has 116 tackles, 2.0 sacks, and 6 interceptions.
Original #26 Pick: Anthony Spencer, DE Purdue
Originally Picked: 2nd Round, 46th overall by the Indianapolis Colts
Ugoh is a starting OT for the Colts and is one of the reasons the Colts have one of, if not the best, pass blocking offensive lines in the NFL.
They might not be able to run block to save their life, but the most important thing is protecting Peyton Manning, and he does just that.
He's not a superstar, and he probably won't make very many, if any, Pro Bowls, but he's solid, competent, and gets the job done.
Photo courtesy of ArkansasRazorbacks.com
Original #27 Pick: Robert Meachem, WR Tennessee
Originally Picked: 2nd Round, 53rd overall by the Cleveland Browns
Eric Wright has played very well thus far and actually has better stats than Josh Wilson.
But concerns still surround him as a character player, as he was a first round talent coming out of college, but his stock dropped because of potential off-the-field issues.
He has performed admirably, though, accumulating 207 tackles, 1.0 sacks, and 8 interceptions.
He started 13 games as a rookie and hasn't looked back since.
Original #28 Pick: Joe Staley, OT Central Michigan
Originally Picked: 5th Round, 142nd overall by the Arizona Cardinals
Breaston is arguably the most productive receiver from this class, if you include his special teams play as he's one of the best return men in the game.
In 2008, he had a break out season with over 1,000 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns.
He was one of the best steals of the draft for the Arizona Cardinals, as only Pierre Thomas was passed over by more teams.
Original #29 Pick: Ben Grubbs, OG Auburn
Originally Picked: 1st Round, 31st overall by the Chicago Bears
Olsen was the best tight end in the draft.
Unfortunately for him, there's ample depth at tight end in the NFL, so tight end isn't a pick many teams will typically spend a high first rounder on.
Nevertheless, he is a solid blocker and goal line option.
He is third in this class, with 15 receiving touchdowns in three years, and leads the Bears in touchdown receptions over that time.
He was selected as Second alternate for the 2009 Pro Bowl after his 2008 performance.
Original #30 Pick: Craig "Buster" Davis, WR LSU
Originally Picked: 1st Round, 20th overall by the New York Giants
Aaron Ross isn't a star corner, nor does he play for one of the better secondaries in the NFL.
What he has proven is that he is a competent corner who will be playing for a long time in this league.
He has good size for a corner, along with decent technique.
He wasn't a bust, but he wasn't a home-run either.
He's a good player worthy of a First round selection.
Original #31 Pick: Greg Olsen, TE Miami(FL)
Originally Picked: 3rd Round, 79th overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars
After getting very little playing time his first two years in the league, Sims-Walker had a breakout year in 2009.
He led his team in both receptions (63) and receiving yards (869).
Because of his limited experience, as well as the futility at quarterback of the Jags, it's hard to tell how good he will eventually become, but he's got good size, blazing fast speed, and excellent hands.
One thing's for sure, the future is looking bright for this young receiver.
Original #32 Pick: Anthony Gonzalez, WR Ohio State
Originally Picked: 2nd Round, 38th overall by the Oakland Raiders
Zach Miller has quite remarkable stats considering who he was playing for and who was throwing him the ball.
He's made the most of his situation and has over 2,000 yards receiving and 7 touchdowns for his career.
2007 turned out to be quite a remarkable draft.
While depth may have been somewhat lacking, quality certainly was not, as it produced arguably the best offensive tackle, arguably the best running back, three or four of the top 10 inside linebackers, one of the top 10 DEs/rush OLB, and two of the top 10 cornerbacks, including arguably the best in the NFL.
Most Impressive University - The University of Michigan Wolverines, who should have produced four First round draft picks, including three of the top eight.
Most Impressive NFL Draft - The New York Jets picked up two of the top eight players from this draft with the 14th and 47th picks and now have the best pass defense in the NFL.
Honorable mention has to go to the 49ers who did grab an excellent OT at No. 28 and the best linebacker in the NFL at No. 11.
Least Impressive NFL Draft - Oakland Raiders - It's hard to overlook the team that had arguably the biggest flop in the history of the NFL draft, but to their credit, at least they got a legitimate Second rounder in TE Zach Miller.
- Miami Dolphins - There are only two players from this draft still on the roster, a Fourth round bench warmer and a Seventh round punter. They just traded the ninth pick in the draft for a Fifth rounder in this year's draft, just horrendous.
Honorable mention goes to the St. Louis Rams, who were unable to get any meaningful talent . . . again.
All pictures came from Getty Images, unless otherwise indicated.