Friday, February 02, 2007

NFL Mock Draft #1

"And when they walked offstage
The drummer swept that girl away."

Yeah I couldn't wait anymore, and I know you've just been on pins and needles waiting for this day. So without further ado, the first, and certainly not the last installment of the NFL Mock Draft (hey I'll even do analysis too, what the hell?)

1. Oakland- JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU. Sugar Bowl baby. Sugar Bowl. If there was a question before that game as to who should be the first overall pick in the Draft, it got answered in a hurry by Russell and his high-powered Bayou Bengal offense, as they waxed the floor with Brady Quinn and the rest of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. I already stated before that Brady Quinn will be a huge bust wherever he ends up. Quinn simply does not have the killer instinct that a guy like Russell has. It also doesn't hurt that Russell stands 6'6 and comes in weighing 260 pounds. Think pre-screwed up knee Daunte Culpepper. Oh yeah...

2. Detroit- Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin. God did I want to put Calvin Johnson here. How great would it be if the Lions used four of its last five first round picks on receivers? I mean Matt Millen did get re-hired, so obviously, weirder things have happened. However, I have to think that they'll get it right one of these days. The best thing to do if you have no clue about how to evaluate talent is get the best left tackle there is...and so it was (side note: I used to think that the best tackle available would be an immediate star, but after seeing Robert Gallery, maybe it's less of a sure thing than I had thought).

3. Cleveland- Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma. I'm going to give Romeo the benefit of the doubt, because I still love the guy, and therefore, I can't see him taking Brady Quinn here, even though the QB situation in Cleveland is anything but stable. Reuben Droughns has been effective when healthy, with the key words when healthy. It is a rare occasion when that happens. Peterson is coming off a severe shoulder injury, but looked good in the Fiesta Bowl against Boise St. (he actually was out there in between Boise St. pulling off plays from "Little Giants"). Peterson is a bruiser, and will fit in well with the scheme Crennel employs.

4. Tampa Bay- Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech. Ok, I'll give you 16/15 odds on the coin flip. Personally, I'm thinking Tampa will call heads, which is absolutely ridiculous. Horrible..."tails never fails!" So, they get the unfortunate pleasure of drafting the best athlete in the draft. Boo-hoo. Anyway, Quinn will continue to slip due to the fact that the Bucs, for whatever reason, decided to give Chris Simms an extension (Ok, I know this is the Mock Draft, but when I bring up Chris Simms, I can't help but think about his old man, longtime QB and current CBS color man Phil Simms. When you watch Phil Simms, he's almost like a pace horse. He comes out on fire, telling you a lot of real good information, but once he hits the homestretch, he starts babbling about God knows what, often repeating the exact same thing he said in the first quarter in an attempt to sucker the people just tuning in to believe that he has a clue. I don't know, I mean, I know that announcing is probably a tough gig, but if I got $10 million a year, I could probably make that happen.) Anyway, Joey Galloway is not getting any older, and Mike Clayton failed to impress like he did in his rookie season, so look for the Bucs to try and build up their receiving core.

5. Arizona- Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas. Here's the first instance where I can't see a team staying where they are. 'Zona clearly needs help protecting their young QB Matt Leinart and RB Edgerrin James, who is coming of his worst season after signing a four year, $30 million contract last year. However, there are no O-linemen who deserve to go this high (granted that can change real quick), so the Cardinals should seriously consider trading down and stockpiling picks, because they really do need help at a bunch of different positions. Anderson is interesting because when people were talking about D-ends in the draft, most looked at Gaines Adams. However, Anderson is one of those guys who's stock is pretty high and is only going to get higher once he has his pro day and enters the combine. He is a little bigger than Adams, which makes all the difference in the world when you're in the same division as all-pro tackles Orlando Pace and Walter Jones.

6. Washington- Alan Branch, DT, Michigan. The 'Skins could go one of two ways here, end or tackle. Personally, I feel like their ends are solid enough right now with Patrick Daniels and Andre Carter. What they really need is someone to compliment Cornelius Griffin up the middle. Branch has long been regarded has the best interior lineman in the Draft. He dominated the run-heavy Big 10 over the past two years.

7. Minnesota- Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame. Again, this is just the first projection, so a lot of things could change. In fact I'm almost guaranteeing this one will change. Quinn, as I've said countless times before, has zero pro potential. None. He folded every time he was up against a tough defense, and from my point of view, a QB coming into the Draft needs to be exposed to different kinds of defensive schemes and learn how to handle them. Quinn has done neither, and is a top 10 prospect purely on reputation and the "hype machine." I'm a big Tarvaris Jackson guy, but you can't honestly expect him to be able to lead a team. Not like Quinn will, but for whatever reason, that seems to be the mindset of most NFL people.

8. Houston- Amobi Okoye, DT, Louisville. Here's a spot where, if Adrian Peterson falls to them, they absolutely cannot let him go. Also, if they feel like I feel, and think that Peterson will go in the top 5, they should definitely try and trade up to get Peterson. After last year's debaucle, they need to get an offensive difference maker. That being said, these are the Texans, so all bets are off. I know it's hard to imagine a team using their first round pick two years in a row on the D-Line, but when you are trying to transition from a 3-4 to a 4-3, you're probably going to be in need of a defensive tackle. Okoye will only be 20 years old when he enters the league, this despite the fact he played four years at Louisville. He possesses amazing size (6'1, 315 lbs.) and is able to penetrate the line to stop the run and disrupt the pass (15 tackles for loss, 8 sacks).

9. Miami- Leon Hall, CB, Michigan. The Dolphins are another team in need of a DT, with Keith Traylor most likely retiring. Outside of Quinn Pitcock from Ohio St., there really isn't a whole lot of DT's that have first round value, and Pitcock is expected to go much later. This is a spot where the Dolphins could decide to trade down and get value, or, they could fill a need right here by taking Hall, by far the best corner available in the draft. They will be looking for someone to play opposite Will Allen, as Andre' Goodman simply could not handle most of the action thrown his way. Hall is a shutdown corner who will have very little adjusting to do to get ready for the pro game.

10. Atlanta-Gaines Adams, DE, Clemson. It will be miraculous if Adams fell this low, and if he does, could you imagine Adams playing opposite to John Abraham? Yikes. Adams is a rare mix of size and athleticism that the Falcons need up front to force pressure on the quarterback. The Falcons could use help in the secondary as well, but when you have a chance to get a guy like Adams, he could definitely help how well the Falcons 28th passing defense plays.

11. San Francisco- Dwayne Jarrett, WR, USC. With Antonio Bryant showing signs of brilliance early on in the season, it is clear that he has the ability to be a #1 receiver. Now, the Niners need to continue to add weapons for Alex Smith, who still doesn't look comfortable handling the west coast offense. Arnez Battle is a good receiver, but when you look at Jarret, here's a guy with a tremendous frame and build. When you consider Bryant and Jarrett on the outside, Vernon Davis up the middle, and the most underrated player in the league in Frank Gore, you're looking at a team with huge potential on the offensive side of the ball.

12. Buffalo- Levi Brown, OT, Penn St. When you talk about the Bills offense, invariably, every single discussion will end with the play of J.P. Losman. With Lee Evans about to burst out as a top 10 receiver in the league, Losman will need protection on his blind side so he can hook up with Evans and Peerless Price.

13. St. Louis- Adam Carriker, DE, Nebraska. Carriker, after his Senior Bowl outing, has been moving steadily up the draft board, and with the Rams looking for someone to play opposite to Leonard Little. Carriker has good speed for his size, and as Draft day gets closer and closer, it will be interesting to see how Carriker does in his pro day and the combine, which could make or break his chances of ending up as a top 15 pick.

14. Carolina- Patrick Willis, ILB, Ole Miss. With Dan Morgan never being able to get his bearings, and his health completely up in the air, the Panthers are in desperate need to get help in the middle of their linebacking core. In my opinion, Willis will be a riser, and although he is listed right now as a late first-rounder, his value will go up once people see his speed (4.6 40) and the fact he has over 100 tackles in his final two years with the Rebels.

15. Pittsburgh- LaRon Landry, S, LSU. The Steelers felt the loss of Chris Hope this year, as Ryan Clark could not do the kind of job that Landry could for the Steelers. If you pair him up with Polamalu, you're talking about two heavy hitters that would be able to make a difference in the passing game. Landry has played corner as well, so if the Steelers have options when it comes to Landry

16. Green Bay- Ted Ginn, Jr., WR, Ohio St. After Driver and Jennings, the Packers are incredibly thin at receiver. You have to be aware of how much of an impact Ginn can have on an offense. Look at the Buckeyes with and without Ginn in the National Title game. The offense looked completely lost without him. Ginn is the X-factor that the Packers sorely need, and unless they fill the need through some other means, this would be a solid pick. Plus, their last Buckeye first-rounder (A.J. Hawk) was an impact player, so why think this will be different?

17. Jacksonville- Reggie Nelson, S, Florida., With Donovan Darius unable to stay healthy for any length of time, this is almost a no-brainer for the Jags. The only question will be if Nelson will be around here, as his stock went up at a rampid pace after the National Title game, but as now cooled considerably. I believe Nelson is the best safety in this draft, but when I look around and find out what different teams are thinking, they seem to be liking Landry a little better. Anyway, Jacksonville needs a presence over the middle. Deon Grant is a good safety, and RaShean Mathis is one of the most underrated players in the league. So, if Nelson falls to them at #17, you're looking at a home-grown product from right down the road who can make an immediate impact.

18. Cincinnati- Quinn Pitcock, DT, Ohio St. Sam Adams isn't getting any younger, so the Bengals could use some help up front. I remember watching the Bungles play the Pats this year, and thinking that this team couldn't stop any kind of running play the Pats threw at them. I just thought they were incredibly soft on defense, so I believe they need some big bodies to at least attempt to slow the running game down.

19. Tennessee- Darrelle Revis, CB, Pittsburgh. With the Pac Man improving every week in all facets of his game (including mix ups with law enforcement), the Titans will be looking to grab someone who can play opposite him. Revis is a guy that is seldom talked about, but bear in mind, he has been named to the first team all Big East team two consecutive years, and was a finalist for the Thorpe Award last year for the nation's top DB, so do not sleep on Revis.

20. New York Giants- Marshawn Lynch, RB, California. With Tiki retiring, it remains to be seen how well Brandon Jacobs can be as the featured running back (by the way, he is easily one of the top 5 fantasy football sleepers, so keep that in mind). When you bring in a guy like Lynch (who will forever be immortilized from last year's Las Vegas Bowl when he looked directly into the camera after scoring a touchdown and saying "Sign it! 375 days a week!") into the fold, you're also talking about a guy who can make plays in the passing game as well as being able to break tackles out of the backfield.

21. Denver- Jarvis Moss, DE, Florida. The Broncos have a solid defense, but I still question how effective Kenard Lang can be. Moss is one of those "hybrid" type of players who can play both D-End and linebacker. Adding some speed off of the end could be the last piece of the puzzle for this defense.

22. Dallas- Justin Blalock, G, Texas. In the post-Tuna era, the Cowboys will be looking for help to protect their newest franchise QB Tony Romo. Blalock is one of those guys who is a "can't miss." He can play either tackle or guard, but considering he's pushing 330 lbs., I'm thinking he will be better utilized as a guard.

23. Kansas City- Sidney Rice, WR, South Carolina. So close! Only one pick away. Oh well. The Chiefs clearly need help at receiver. Remember the playoff game? Eddie Kennison, 0 catches. And he's their #1 guy! Rice will have an immediate impact on whatever team he ends up on (I mean, don't get me wrong, I love Sidney, but I don't think there's any chance, as I've said before, of the Pats getting him, even though this is the guy they could really use).

24. New England- Paul Posluszny, OLB, Penn St.- Again, this is the guy. Plain and simple. If he is around at 24, I will be the most shocked individual on the face of the Earth if this isn't the pick. Then again, when have the Pats done anything the way that people predict they will do? Again, I have the conspiracy theory that Bill Belichick gets his kicks by screwing with people, so they may do something erratic here.

25. New York Jets- Zach Miller, TE, Arizona St. Honestly, I've seen any kind of combination of players going here, but realisitically, when you look at the Jets, their pressing need is this one. Their defense is pretty solid overall, and their receivers, especially Jericho Cotchery and Brad Smith, are a group that is on the rise. Leon Washington is ready to step in as a full-time back, and even if he isn't, they still have Kevan Barlow. A need they will have to address besides tight end is quarterback, as, for once in a long time, Chad Pennington stayed healthy for the whole year. Miller is the best tight end on the board, and his grade is around mid to high second round, meaning that he very well could end up here.

26. Philadelphia- Michael Griffin, S, Texas. This is a need the Eagles simply must fill, because their secondary has been a staple for the last four or five years. Michael Lewis is a free agent this year, and the feeling is that the Eagles will be letting him walk, so Griffin, who is an absolutely outstanding prospect, will be called upon to step up in his rookie season in an attempt to fill in for Lewis.

27. New Orleans- Lawrence Timmons, OLB, Florida St. The Saints literally ran their entire season on smoke and mirrors. This defense is nowhere near as good as they were playing this year. In reality, they are very weak at a lot of different positions, so they will need to use this draft to help themselves out. Timmons is a guy who could be a mover and a shaker. In the end, he potentially could pass Posluszny as the top rated OLB, as he will probably be putting up some pretty good numbers in his pro day and the combine.

28. New England- Marcus McCauley, CB, Fresno St. Again, I just think that the Pats will be letting Asante Samuel go, because he will be demanding top 5 corner money (rightfully so). In my opinion, McCauley has the most potential of any corner in this draft, even more than both Leon Hall and Darrelle Revis. This guy is big and he is fast, so the thing is that McCauley could start moving up the board. In any event, cornerback happens to be a pretty deep position in the draft. So, if they decide to draft another tight end (again, Belichick is out to screw with people's heads), then, eventually, they will need to draft someone at corner, because not only will they probably lose Asante, but Randall Gay will also be given his walking papers, meaning that there will be a bunch of holes in the secondary depth chart.

29. Baltimore- Joe Staley, OT, Central Michigan. Before I get into my explanation, I just want to point out how ridiculous the Ravens linebacking core is. Both their OLBs (Suggs and Thomas) are starting for the AFC in the Pro Bowl, and Ray Lewis, who won't play in the game, is being replaced by Bart Scott, meaning Baltimore has four linebackers that were given Pro Bowl consideration. I can't recall any time anything like that has happened (the Eagles got three out of four defensive backs in the game a couple of years ago). Anyway, Jonathan Ogden is starting to show signs of wear, so the Ravens will be looking to get some depth at the line. Staley is a solid pick, and could potentially start at right tackle if need be.

30. San Diego- Robert Meachem, WR, Tennessee. After watching the Pats play the Chargers, there is no question that this is their biggest weakness. Right now, the Chargers have two of the biggest weapons on offense to have played this game in the last decade, but their receiving core is very much sub-par. I watched Meachem play this year, and he was the reason Erik Ainge had a bounce-back year in the SEC. Meachem possesses good ball skills, and should overtake Dwayne Bowe as the #4 receiver in this draft.

31. Chicago- Dwayne Bowe, WR, LSU. The Bears, after Berrian and the Moose, are incredibly weak at receiver. When you have a guy like Rex Grossman at the helm, you have to be looking to be constantly trying to upgrade the weapons he has to go to. Bowe is a great receiver, and could possibly go in the top 20, so, if he is around right here, the Bears should not hesitate to take him here.

32. Indianapolis- Daymeion Hughes, CB, California. Here's an area I thought the Colts never really had any kind of personnel that really put a scare into people. The Colts rely on their aggressive defense to force quarterbacks into quick decisions, thus making it much more difficult for their secondary to get burned. Hughes has great size at 6'2, and the Colts, who run a lot of four cornerback sets out of the "Tampa 2," could always use help at that position.

Ok, so that is just the first mock draft, but there will be plenty more as free agents get signed and prospects start moving up and down the draft board. I will also be putting up supplementary things like team needs and prospect ranks at each position, so look for that in the coming weeks. As always, thank you for reading. Peace.


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