1. Oakland Raiders- WR Calvin Johnson (Georgia Tech)
Hmm…Calvin Johnson or JaMarcus Russell? Calvin Johnson or JaMarcus Russell? The Raiders obviously would have liked to have been able to get a franchise quarterback here because that was a huge need and such an important position, but there simply wasn’t one available. Look at the list of quarterbacks drafted in 2007. JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn, Kevin Kolb, John Beck, Drew Stanton, Trent Edwards, Isaiah Stanback, Jeff Rowe, Troy Smith, Jordan Palmer, Tyler Thigpen and Matt Moore went undrafted. Yikes! I’m sure the Raiders wouldn’t mind Megatron though, the best available player.
2. Detroit Lions- OT Joe Thomas (Wisconsin)
The Lions miss out on Megatron, but Joe Thomas is not a bad consolation prize. He’s been one of the best offensive linemen in the league since he was drafted and would have been a huge help for a Lions team that surrendered 63 sacks in 2006, 2nd most in the NFL.
3. Cleveland Browns- RB Adrian Peterson (Oklahoma)
Like the Lions, the Browns miss out on a stud player, but Adrian Peterson is not a bad replacement. Reuben Droughns averaged 3.4 YPC as their starting running back in 2006 and while they added Jamal Lewis in free agency, he was at the tail end of his career and you can’t really pass on Peterson here.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- CB Darrelle Revis (Pittsburgh)
The Buccaneers had the league’s 23rd ranked pass defense in 2006. Think Darrelle Revis would have cleaned that up? Revis is part of a 2007 NFL Draft class loaded on elite talent.
5. Arizona Cardinals- MLB Patrick Willis (Mississippi)
How loaded is the 2007 NFL Draft class on talent? Patrick Willis goes 5th. Willis is one of the league’s top 2 or 3 middle linebackers, if he isn’t the best and only goes below the other 4 because he doesn’t play a premium position. I don’t think the Cardinals would really care that much about that at this point as they steal an elite player from a division rival.
6. Washington Redskins- DE LaMarr Woodley (Michigan)
The Redskins had a league worst 19 sacks in 2006. There are some questions about how LaMarr Woodley would do in a 4-3 (he’s spent his entire career in Pittsburgh’s 3-4) and about how he would do without so many talented players around him, but the Redskins have to take that risk at this point. Besides, they would eventually switch to a 3-4 defense a few seasons later.
7. Minnesota Vikings- WR Dwayne Bowe (LSU)
No Adrian Peterson available for the Vikings, but they get a legitimate #1 receiver, which they really needed. Their top 3 leading receivers in 2006 were Travis Taylor, who left as a free agent, 3rd down back Mewelde Moore, and rookie receiver Troy Williamson, who would never have a better season than his mediocre rookie year. It’s no surprise that the Vikings were lead in receiving in 2007 by Bobby Wade and Sidney Rice, a 2nd round rookie. Bowe would have been better for the Vikings in the 1st than Rice would have been in the 2nd.
8. Atlanta Falcons- DE Charles Johnson (Georgia)
Right position, but wrong player. The Falcons needed another pass rusher, but the problem is that Jamaal Anderson, who they used this pick on, couldn’t get to the quarterback. Instead they grab Charles Johnson and steal him from a division rival. Johnson would have gone higher if he weren’t a late bloomer.
9. Miami Dolphins- S Eric Weddle (Utah)
The Ted Ginn pick is one of the worst picks I’ve ever seen. Not just because Ginn didn’t do anything of note for the Dolphins, but it was so predictable that he would never do anything of note. Teams reach for guys fairly often in the top-10 and get a ton of criticism, but the Ginn case was one where every word of criticism turned out to be right. Instead, they take Eric Weddle here, arguably the league’s best safety now with Reed and Polamalu aging. No defensive back has allowed a lower QB rating in the last 4 seasons than the 25.8 that Weddle allowed last year, as he allowed 40.7% completion, 4.1 YPA, and 1 touchdown to 7 interceptions. I told you this class was loaded on elite talent. Unfortunately, it drops off a cliff pretty soon.
10. Houston Texans- CB Leon Hall (Michigan)
Houston had the league’s 24th rated pass defense in 2006, a trend that would continue really up until this last offseason, when the Texans signed Johnathan Joseph. Adding Hall would have definitely helped the problem sooner.
11. San Francisco 49ers- MLB Lawrence Timmons (Florida State)
The 49ers lose out on Patrick Willis, but Lawrence Timmons, ProFootballFocus’ #1 middle linebacker in 2010, isn’t a bad consolation prize for a team who had a need at that position.
12. Buffalo Bills- G Marshal Yanda (Iowa)
The Bills allowed 47 sacks in 2006. Marshal Yanda, one of the league’s best guards, would have definitely helped. He can also play right tackle. On top of being an upgrade in pass protection, Yanda would have helped a running game that ranked 28th in 2006.
13. St. Louis Rams- MLB Jon Beason (Miami)
The Rams haven’t had good linebacker play in a while. Will Witherspoon was very solid in 2006, but their next 4 leading tackles were two safeties, a cornerback, and a defensive end, before you get to Brandon Chillar, who had just 57 tackles. He left after the 2007 season to sign in Green Bay anyway.
14. New York Jets- MLB David Harris (Michigan)
David Harris has become a big part of the Jets strong defense since they drafted him in the 2nd round. Unfortunately, they miss out on Darrelle Revis here, but they are able to lock up their talented middle linebacker with a 1st rounder.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers- C Ryan Kalil (USC)
Interior offensive linemen rarely go this high, but that’s because, if they don’t become Pro Bowlers, they’re pretty much disappointments as top-20 picks. If a center drafted in the top-20 becomes just a solid starter, it’s a disappointment because you can find solid starting centers much later. At other positions like cornerback, wide receiver, left tackle etc, it’s not as big of a deal if they’re just solid. That being said, Ryan Kalil is a 3-time Pro Bowler and really has been one of the league’s best interior offensive linemen over the past few years so there’s no doubt he deserves to go this high looking back in hindsight. The Steelers have needed offensive line help for years. Kalil would solidify their pass protection and anchor their running game.
16. Green Bay Packers- DT Ray McDonald (Florida)
McDonald would have gone higher if he hadn’t been a late bloomer, but McDonald broke out as an elite 3-4 defensive end last year, ranking 3rd at his position on ProFootballFocus. His collegiate position was defensive tackle, where he’d be originally for the Packers, though they eventually switched to a 3-4 so he’d play end in that scheme. He’s definitely better than Justin Harrell, their original pick.
17. Denver Broncos- MLB Paul Posluszny (Penn State)
Al Wilson, the Broncos’ middle linebacker and leading tackler in 2006, retired following the season. Posluszny can be his replacement and fits the range as part of a very talented middle linebacker class.
18. Cincinnati Bengals- RB Marshawn Lynch (California)
Rudi Johnson averaged just 3.8 YPC as the feature back in 2006. He averaged just 2.9 YPC the following season and was benched for Kenny Watson in 2007, who managed just 13 career carries after 2007. Lynch has had an inconsistent career, but would have really helped their running back problems.
19. Tennessee Titans- S Michael Griffin (Texas)
This pick stays the same. Michael Griffin hasn’t been the best safety in the league or anything, but he’s been an above average starter on their defense and recently received a 5 year, 35 million dollar extension this offseason after being slapped with the franchise tag.
20. New York Giants- RB Ahmad Bradshaw (Marshall)
Bradshaw was a 7th round pick of the Giants’ in 2007 and has been worth way more than his draft slot. Unfortunately, they aren’t able to get him there in a redo, but they use their 1st rounder to keep him. This isn’t a huge loss because Aaron Ross, their original pick here, was not very good.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars- WR Sidney Rice (South Carolina)
The Jaguars leading receivers in 2007 were Reggie Williams, Dennis Northcutt, and Ernest Wilford. They’ve had wide receiver problems for a while. Sidney Rice only has one season of more than 32 catches for 484 yards in 5 years, but he’s worth the risk here. In 2009, he caught 83 passes for 1312 yards and 8 touchdowns, but has been plagued by injuries since.
22. Cleveland Browns- OT Joe Staley (Central Michigan)
The Browns lose out on Joe Thomas at #3, so they grab a replacement left tackle here instead. Staley is obviously not on Thomas’ level, but he’s a solid left tackle and a good value here at 22 for a Browns team that surrendered 54 sacks in 2006.
23. Kansas City Chiefs- OT Jared Gaither (Maryland)
The Chiefs allowed 41 sacks in 2006. Gaither would have gone higher if not for his injury issues, but in 2008 and 2009 he was one of the best offensive tackles in the league and, still young, he still has a chance to turn his career around. The Chiefs had Gaither for a half season in 2011, before giving up on the injury riddled player, who rebounded by playing very well for the Chargers for 5 games and landing a large contract. Of course now he’s hurt again.
24. New England Patriots – MLB Desmond Bishop (California)
Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau were heading into the twilights of their careers at this point. Bruschi, heading into his age 34 season, had two more years left, while Seau, heading into his age 38 season, had 3 more left and only one as a starter. Bishop was a late bloomer. Otherwise, he would have gone higher. However, he’s a perfect fit in New England, where he would have had time to develop behind established starters.
25. Carolina Panthers- G Ben Grubbs (Auburn)
The Panthers miss out on Ryan Kalil in the 2nd round, but Grubbs is another good interior offensive lineman for a team that needed help there and he fits the range. He’s also a typical John Fox pick as the conservative Fox loves to build in the trenches and on the ground.
26. Dallas Cowboys- RLB Anthony Spencer (Purdue)
Believe it or not, Spencer has proven to be worth this pick. Spencer takes a lot of heat for never exceeding 6 sacks in a season despite being a 1st round pick in 2007 and having DeMarcus Ware opposite him, taking away the defensive pressure. However, that number doesn’t tell the whole story. Spencer also had 9 quarterback hits and 35 quarterback pressures last year and leads all edge rushers in tackles over the last 3 seasons. For his efforts last year, he was a top-10 player at his position on ProFootballFocus and only James Harrison graded out better against the run. I don’t know if he was worth the franchise tag this offseason, but he’s a valuable member of the Cowboys’ defense.
27. New Orleans Saints- DT Brandon Mebane (California)
The Saints ranked 31st against the run in 2006, so defensive tackle was an obvious need. Brandon Mebane is a solid player who fits the range and would fill the hole. This draft class is really starting to fall off a cliff.
28. San Francisco 49ers- OT Jermon Bushrod (Towson)
The 49ers originally used this pick on Joe Staley. He’s not available, so they need another left tackle. Jermon Bushrod is an overrated player who Drew Brees makes look better than he is. Brees has only taken a sack 82 times in the last 4 years on 674 pressured drop backs (12.2%), the best rate in the league over that period by a quarterback who has played in all 4 seasons (sorry, Peyton Manning). A deeper look at Bushrod’s stats shows that he is really a product of Drew Brees’ abilities. Bushrod has allowed 20 quarterback hits and 90 quarterback pressures in the last 2 seasons, yet only 7 sacks. He is really a replacement level player disguised as a Pro-Bowler with the help of his quarterback. However, the 49ers will take him at this point in the draft.
29. Baltimore Ravens- WR Robert Meachem (Tennessee)
The Ravens used a 3rd round pick on a wide receiver, Yamon Figurs, so it was obviously a need. Meachem isn’t a great receiver, but he’s the best left and this draft class has really fallen off a cliff talent wise.
30. San Diego Chargers- OT Doug Free (Northern Illinois)
Ugh, yeah Doug Free goes in the 1st round. He’s a solid offensive tackle with the ability to play both on the left and right side. AJ Smith has only used one draft pick higher than the 3rd on an offensive lineman in his tenure in San Diego and it’s really started to show over the past few years. He’d be an upgrade over Jeromey Clary, who has been starting at right tackle for the Chargers for a while, even though he isn’t very good.
31. Chicago Bears- TE Greg Olsen (Miami)
In a weak draft class, the Bears will make this pick again. Olsen was a solid tight end for them for a few years and then got them a 3rd round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft last offseason, which isn’t too bad. This pick is worth a 2012 3rd rounder and 196 catches for 1981 yards and 20 touchdowns over 4 seasons from a tight end, at least in this thin draft class.
32. Indianapolis Colts- DT Alan Branch (Michigan)
The Colts had the league’s worst run defense in 2006. Branch was a bust as a 2nd round pick in Arizona, but emerged as one of the best defensive tackles in the league last year in Seattle, especially against the run. I guess that’s worth this pick from a team who needs a run stuffer.