Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Re-drafting the 2007 NFL draft
JaMarcus Russell at the top? No, let's make it Megatron this time around
January 9, 2013
By Mel Kiper Jr.
If you want to define this draft by anything, try length! The first round was six-plus hours. As for the picks, it gets some obvious historical demerits because of the quarterbacks -- or total lack thereof. It's almost a comically bad QB class. The leading passer, through sixseasons? Try Trent Edwards. So as you start seeing non-stars among the first-rounders, blame the QBs. As we-draft, however, you have to consider the parameters:
1. This order doesn't just reflect what players have done, but what they still have left.
2. I'm not concerned at all with need, or an attempt to re-write history. It's about performance.
3. Positional value still matters. So a good tackle could edge a star guard, for instance.
Why six years? Well, it started when we did 2005 two years ago, in looking at Aaron Rodgers' rise. Last year, we did 2006. The order follows the actual order.
It should be noted that 2007 No. 4 overall pick Gaines Adams would almost certainly have a place here. He passed away in 2010.
1. Oakland Raiders
Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech
It's really the last two years where Megatron has become something of an all-world star. But he rises this high because after six years he appears to just be reaching his peak, and he was always a brilliant physical specimen. He could ostensibly reach 1,000 catches and 14,000 yards in his career if he stays healthy.
Previous draft spot: No. 2
'07 pick: JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU
2. Detroit Lions
Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma
He now has 8,849 yards, is coming off a brilliant 2,097-yard season, has a 5.0-yard per carry average for his career and doesn't seem bound by Earthly limitations of the human body. Peterson only drops based on positional value and future expectations of health compared to Megatron, but I never expect to be disappointed. Awesome player.
Previous draft spot: No. 7
'07 pick: Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech
3. Cleveland Browns
Darrelle Revis, CB, Pittsburgh
Mike Tannenbaum got fired, and Eric Mangini is no longer around, but the Jets made one of the great trade-up moves of all time in moving to No. 14 overall to draft Revis, who came out of Pitt after his junior year. When healthy, the best pure cover corner in football.
Previous draft spot: No. 14
'07 pick: Joe Thomas, T, Wisconsin
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Patrick Willis, LB, Ole Miss
He has over 150 more tackles than any other player in the draft class, has been to the Pro Bowl every year he's been in the league and is the heart and soul of arguably the best defense (and easily the best group of linebackers) in the NFL. Great pick by the Niners at No. 11.
Previous draft spot: No. 11
'07 pick: Gaines Adams, DE, Clemson
5. Arizona Cardinals
Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin
Could be higher, really. The most consistent left tackle in the NFL since he's been drafted, only he and Willis have been to a Pro Bowl in every season among players in this draft class. In six years, Thomas has started 96 out of a possible 96 games.
Previous draft spot: No. 3
'07 pick: Levi Brown, T, Penn State
6. Washington Redskins
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Cal
He has totally reinvigorated his career in Seattle, and could easily crack 10,000 yards for his career if he can maintain some health. Lynch has run for 2,794 yards over the past two seasons, and has been voted to three Pro Bowl teams. A very good RB career, and a great awakening after it appeared to go sour in Buffalo.
Previous draft spot: No. 12
'07 pick: LaRon Landry, S, LSU
7. Minnesota Vikings
Joe Staley, OT, Central Michigan
I'm not sure many fans outside of San Francisco know much about Staley, but he's one of the best offensive linemen in the league, and he does it at a premium position. The Pro Bowl left tackle is a significant part of what the 49ers accomplish on offense.
Previous draft spot: No. 28
'07 pick: Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma
8. Atlanta Falcons
Anthony Spencer, DE, Purdue
A vastly underrated player across from DeMarcus Ware, Spencer doesn't pile up sack totals. But not only can he rush the passer in his own right (32.5 career sacks), he's arguably the best 3-4 OLB run defender in the NFL. Not a huge name, but he could be in free agency this year.
Previous draft spot: No. 26
'07 pick: Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas
9. Miami Dolphins
Lawrence Timmons, LB, Florida St.
He would be higher based on his current level of play, but remember that Timmons didn't start until his third year in the league, as he worked his way up the Pittsburgh depth chart and earned the respect of Dick LeBeau. Maybe a little high based on accomplishments, but he's one of the NFL's best interior linebackers now.
Previous draft spot: No. 15
'07 pick: Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Ohio State
10. Houston Texans
LaMarr Woodley, DE, Michigan
He leads every defender from this draft class in sacks with 52.0, and he became an integral part of the Pittsburgh defense early in his career. Woodley came in with the reputation of a pass-rusher, but he also plays with leverage and succeeds against the run.
Previous draft spot: No. 46
'07 pick: Amobi Okoye, DT, Louisville
11. San Francisco 49ers
Marshal Yanda, T, Iowa
Drafted as a tackle, it took some time, but when Yanda was moved inside to guard he found his role and has been voted to two straight Pro Bowls. Another player who rises here because he should have a lot of good football left, perhaps as one of the best players at his position.
Previous draft spot: No. 86
'07 pick: Patrick Willis, LB, Ole Miss
12. Buffalo Bills
Charles Johnson, DE, Georgia
He's no star, but since he was made a starter, Johnson has 33.0 sacks over the past three seasons, and seems to have really figured it out. He was seventh in the NFL in sacks in 2010, and sixth in 2012. Not bad considering where he was taken.
Previous draft spot: No. 83
'07 pick: Marshawn Lynch, RB, Cal
13. St. Louis Rams
Dwayne Bowe, WR, LSU
Megatron has 488 catches, and Bowe isn't exactly light years behind in this class at 415. Not bad when you consider how up and down the QB situation has been in Kansas City. There's a pretty good chance Bowe will be choosing where he wants to play in 2013, and it's not hard to imagine his career actually spikes late.
Previous draft spot: No. 23
'07 pick: Adam Carriker, DT, Nebraska
14. New York Jets
Ben Grubbs, G, Auburn
Well, he's not Revis, but Grubbs has been a starter since he arrived in the league, and has a Pro Bowl to show for his steady play over the years. He was actually drafted as a true guard, and has stuck there.
Previous draft spot: No. 29
'07 pick: Darrelle Revis, CB, Pittsburgh
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
Leon Hall, CB, Michigan
It's not Revis who leads this class in interceptions -- it's Hall. He has 22 since entering the league. He has started 81 of a possible 96 games since he arrived from Michigan, and is a leading player in maybe the deepest secondary in the league at the corner position.
Previous draft spot: No. 18
'07 pick: Lawrence Timmons, LB, Florida State
16. Green Bay Packers
Eric Weddle, S, Utah
Maybe he should be higher. Weddle isn't a headhunter, and doesn't appear in the highlights all that often, but I'm not sure there's a steadier safety in the NFL. He's easily one of the top few cover safeties in the league, but he also adds a ton in the run game. Complete player.
Previous draft spot: No. 37
'07 pick: Justin Harrell, DT, Tennessee
17. Denver Broncos
Michael Griffin, S, Texas
He has started 89 of a possible 96 games, has been to a Pro Bowl and played well early in his career. He struggled in 2012, and could be challenged for his job, but he has ability and has carved out a decent career.
Previous draft spot: No. 19
'07 pick: Jarvis Moss, DE, Florida
18. Cincinnati Bengals
Sidney Rice, WR, South Carolina
After six full seasons in the NFL, Rice is still only 26 years old and keeps a reasonably high spot on this list because, if healthy, he has a shot to put together a number of good seasons in the coming years. He had a big year in 2008, and finally healthy this season, he rebounded with 50 catches for 748 yards. It was the first time in six seasons he started all 16 games.
Previous draft spot: No. 44
'07 pick: Leon Hall, CB, Michigan
19. Tennessee Titans
James Jones, WR, San Jose St.
His career sounds a lot better when you consider that within this draft class, he trails only Johnson and Bowe in receiving yards. Jones has never had an alpha role in the Green Bay offense, surrounded by so many other good pass-catchers, but has been remarkably efficient when he gets the chance. Could be Pro Bowl for years to come.
Previous draft spot: No. 78
'07 pick: Michael Griffin, S, Texas
20. New York Giants
Ryan Kalil, C, USC
Nothing sexy about a center at No. 20 overall, but this is what a first-round center looks like. When healthy, you can pretty much pencil Kalil onto the Pro Bowl roster, which is where he landed from 2009 to 2011.
Previous draft spot: No. 59
'07 pick: Aaron Ross, CB, Texas
21. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jon Beason, LB, Miami
He only falls because he has been lost to injury for the bulk of the past two seasons. It's a shame, because when Beason is healthy, he's a total stud, playing at the level of a guy like Willis and in the discussion as one of the best linebackers in the league, period. His first four years, he started all 64 possible games.
Previous draft spot: No. 25
'07 pick: Reggie Nelson, S, Florida
22. Cleveland Browns
Dashon Goldson, DB, Washington
He came into the league as a corner, but Goldson had the size and the hitter's mentality of a safety, and that's where he is today. He has made the Pro Bowl in each of the past two seasons, and the big question now is whether the Niners can keep him.
Previous draft spot: No. 126
'07 pick: Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame
23. Kansas City Chiefs
Jermon Bushrod, G, Towson St.
A project pick out of Towson, down the road from me, Bushrod didn't see much of the field for two years. But he cracks the list where he does because he has played at a Pro Bowl level and has been on the blind side of Drew Brees for four years now. He has made all 48 starts over the past three seasons.
Previous draft spot: No. 125
'07 pick: Dwayne Bowe, WR, LSU
24. New England Patriots
Reggie Nelson, DB, Florida
He has 78 starts in his six seasons, and has quietly become one of the top 10 safeties in the league. Nelson can make plays in the passing game, and does a decent job in run support. Not a star by any means, but a good player who can start for any team.
Previous draft spot: No. 21
'07 pick: Brandon Meriweather, S, Miami
25. Carolina Panthers
Greg Olsen, TE, Miami
Among players from this class, only Johnson and Bowe have more total receptions. Olsen has averaged just over 50 through six seasons, not bad at all given the situations he has been in, a solution for new QBs in new systems in both Chicago and Carolina.
Previous draft spot: No. 31
'07 pick: Jon Beason, LB, Miami
26. Dallas Cowboys
Brian Robison, DE, Texas
Really? Well, the case for Robison is it's possible he's in the midst of some of his best football, with more to come. He has 16.5 sacks over the past two seasons and has been a big part of a strong front on the Vikings' defense. It's only his second full season as a starter, so he may have some miles left on the odometer.
Previous draft spot: No. 102
'07 pick: Anthony Spencer, DE, Purdue
27. New Orleans Saints
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Marshall
From this draft, only Peterson and Lynch have more rushing yards than Bradshaw, who has 4,232 yards through his first six seasons. That's a major success story for a player that nearly fell out of the draft completely.
Previous draft spot: No. 250
'07 pick: Robert Meachem, WR, Tennessee
28. San Francisco 49ers
Brent Celek, TE, Cincinnati
With 280 catches for his career, he's second to Olsen in the class among tight ends, and could end up on top, because he has proved himself to be a reliable pass-catcher and a guy who knows how to find and create space as a route runner. The Eagles got a steal down the board.
Previous draft spot: No. 162
'07 pick: Joe Staley, T, Central Michigan
29. Baltimore Ravens
Paul Posluszny, LB, Penn St.
He's actually second in the draft class in total tackles, with 469 in his career. He falls down the board only because of positional value, and because he has merely been solid, never rising to the level of impact player. He had a good 2012, with 139 total tackles.
Previous draft spot: No. 34
'07 pick: Ben Grubbs, G, Auburn
30. San Diego Chargers
LaRon Landry, S, LSU
Particularly in terms of his coverage ability, Landry just isn't where he was as a player when he came into the league, but at that time he had a stretch as one of the top safeties in football, and earned a Pro Bowl appearance for those efforts. Injuries have slowed him since he started 47 of his first 48 possible games.
Previous draft spot: No. 6
'07 pick: Buster Davis, WR, LSU
31. Chicago Bears
Brandon Mebane, DT, Cal
Not a star, but he played a key role for Seattle this season as a defensive tackle, and is a good one on a rotation basis. Mebane has started 85 games over six seasons.
Previous draft spot: No. 85
'07 pick: Greg Olsen, TE, Miami
32. Indianapolis Colts
Zach Miller, TE, Arizona St.
Not an explosive tight end in the mold of some of the younger stars who have defined the position, but Miller has been reliable and carved out a solid career. He has averaged just under 50 catches per season since he was drafted, and avoids injuries.
Previous draft spot: No. 38
'07 pick: Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Ohio State