By Paul M. Banks and Peter Christian
With the Oakland Raiders finally benching JaMarcus Russell this week (and winning no less right after doing so) it brought me back to the NFL Draft of 2007, when all the experts were so high on the LSU signal caller. Right before the draft, I even extolled Russell’s virtues during my guest appearance on sports talk radio in Milwaukee: Steve “the Homer” True’s show on ESPN radio. You can listen to that clip by clicking this link. It’s right up near the top of the page. And I encourage you to comment below on what panned out and what didn’t from my predictions over two years ago. Because that’s why we love sports talk radio, and internet comment threads- the debate. So if you have feedback on who I have your team taking, you can comment below.
Team Player Position School
1. Cleveland Browns Jimmy Clausen QB Notre Dame
By losing in the final seconds to Detroit, Cleveland “won” the #1 Overall Pick Bowl yesterday. (And that bowl game actually sounds more natural and legitimate than the names of many college bowls). The Lions have their QB of the future, Cleveland has Brady Quinn. So that means they desperately need a new quarterback. Although now that news of Clausen’s involvement in a bar fight have emerged, I’m having serious buyer’s remorse in making this pick, and will likely change it next week.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ndamukong Suh DT Nebraska
With another game remaining against the Saints, the Bucs run defense (or should I say lack thereof) will become ever more apparent and they’ll go for a run-stopper. Suh is an every down defensive tackle due to his dual ability to stuff the run or crash the pocket. He’s an expert at winning his individual battles at the line of scrimmage and often causes disruption in the backfield constantly. He should be taken #1 overall, but unfortunately he’s not a QB.
3. St. Louis Rams Eric Berry S Tennessee
If you don’t know who Eric Berry is, look him up. He could be the heir apparent to Ed Reed as the elite defensive playmaker in the NFL. And if there’s one thing St. Louis needs, it’s defensive plays. And offensive plays, and special teams plays and….
4. Kansas City Chiefs Russell Okung OT Oklahoma State
Heading into the regular-season finale against Oklahoma on Saturday, the durable Okung is slated for his 46th consecutive start for the Cowboys. He’s a big reason why the 9-2 Cowboys’ offense produces 203.5 yards a game on the ground. Twice during his career he has not allowed a sack against the nation’s leader at the time – the latest was an effort against Texas A&M end Von Miller this season His time spent at T. Boone Pickens University will serve him well, as Okung combines all his physical gifts with a high football IQ
5. Oakland Raiders Jake Locker QB Washington
JaMarcus gets benched, and the Raiders respond by upsetting a very good team in the Cincinnati Bengals. Still Bruce Gradkowski is not the solution, so Oakland will again take a signal caller. This cements Russell’s legacy: bigger bust than Jenny McCarthy.
6. Detroit Lions Trent Williams OT Oklahoma
The Lions need a lot, they can start on the O Line. The Okung or Williams debate over who is the better choice at offensive tackle is one where there really isn’t a loser. Trent Williams, like Okung, has good feet, strong hands and the talent to become elite in the NFL.
7. Washington Redskins Gerald McCoy DT Oklahoma
This would be a nice complement to Albert Haynesworth, and the Skins could use more talent on the defensive line because the last time they had an overwhelmingly dominant d lineman was something like 40 years ago. McCoy is a pillar of strength that can dominate from the center of the field. He is very agile for a guy just shy of 300 pounds and will be a combine favorite.
8. Tennessee Titans Greg Hardy DE Ole Miss
Greg Hardy may be the purest sack artist in the draft. He has a lethal combination of speed and power that he mixes up to get to the quarterback. Hardy also has a sort of “Overdrive” that he shifts into once he smells a possible sack.
9. Buffalo Bills Sam Bradford QB Oklahoma
Trent Edwards is obviously not the answer, not with that 30th ranked passing attack. After season ending surgery, Bradford’s draft stock was, to paraphrase Snoop Dogg “dropping it like its hot,” but it hasn’t fallen as fast as you might think. His body of work still speaks volumes about what he could do on the next level.
10. Seattle Seahawks Carlos Dunlap DE Florida
Dunlap is one of the biggest reasons Gator opponents have backfield mishaps. He is fast AND strong which will allow him to cause nightmares for opposing tackles for years to come. But because the press is busy kissing Tebow’s a$$ every time the Gators play, he’s a well kept secret.
Brandon LaFell WR LSU
LaFell is a rubber band man when it comes to contorting his body in the air to make the catch. His hands are his biggest asset as he catches the ball softly and away from his body. He needs to improve his route running as he isn’t a super fast runner but as long as he makes catches to bail out his quarterback he’ll be a good NFL player. And don’t let his record as a starter fool you, Kyle Orton is a guy who makes throws that need to be bailed out sometimes.
12. Green Bay Packers Bryan Bulaga OT Iowa
As you might have heard, the Pack’s OL is terrible. Myabe they could get the Bucks’ Brandon Jennings to play OG, people in Wisconsin seem to think he can do anything right now. And if LeBron jokes about playing for the Browns…ok enough fooling around. GB will get a huge boost in their ability to run and pass protect on the left side when they take Bulaga, one of the best OL in college football.
13. San Francisco 49ers (From Carolina) Sergio Kindle OLB Texas
Kindle is a versatile linebacker that is an excellent attacker. He takes very good angles to the ball and makes tackles all over the field. Sergio’s mix of energy and instincts allows him to overcome the fact that he is a little slower than coaches would want.
14. San Francisco 49ers Bruce Campbell OT Maryland
Campbell could go higher, because he easily has as much talent and ability as Okung and Williams, but he doesn’t have their track record of durability. Therefore, he slips down the board a little.
15. Houston Texans Jahvid Best RB Cal
Best is exactly what is name proclaims at his position. He has very good vision and an even better instinct on when to turn on the jets. He is very good at making defenders miss at every level. He isn’t a bruiser back but if coupled with a versatile offense he has the makings of the next young play-making running back.
16. Miami Dolphins Terence Cody DT Alabama
Cody is a big time anchor guy who could go higher if he stays in good shape throughout the combine and workout process. He is a perfect 3-4 true nose tackle and can really control the flow and direction of a play.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars Jonathan Dwyer RB Georgia Tech
The Jags offense works much better when they have two main backs in their stable. And Dwyer, an old school workhorse running back, would be an upgrade over MoJo’s current backups. He can run inside and outside and can handle as many carries as the coach gives him. Dwyer’s a big back, but he has good speed as well and can be the muscle of a two back system or handle the lone number one duties as well.
18. New York Jets Arrelious Benn WR Illinois
In any other year, Rejus Benn fells out of the first round due to his disappointing 2009 season. But this year’s receiving class is weak and it’s not his fault the quarterbacking in Champaign this fall was a hot mess. Of course, you could probably say the same for the Jets Mark Sanchez. Maybe he’ll look better next year with some complements to Jericho Cotchery.
19. Atlanta Falcons Rolando McClain LB Alabama
McClain is an amazing tackler in space and can cover a lot of ground from the middle linebacker spot. He’s got great fundamentals and has a knack of shedding blockers to make big tackles.
20. Dallas Cowboys Arthur Jones DT Syracuse
Jones’ is a gap filler and is stronger than Atlas. He is in a Pat Williams type run stopper that will be look like a man amongst boys at times. He plays hard on every play and is of the rare breed of football players that will never quit on any play.
21. Seattle Seahawks (From Denver) Brandon Spikes LB Florida
The “incident” if you will that Spikes was involved in has sent his draft stock-a-tumbling as all the “character issues” will come into play.
22. San Diego Chargers Sean Weatherspoon OLB Missouri
Weatherspoon can play both sides of the field (he’ll end up near the ball anyway) and is always around a big play. Whether he’s rushing the passer, busting up a play in the backfield, breaking up a pass or chasing down a receiver from behind, Weatherspoon can do it all.
23. Arizona Cardinals Joe Haden CB Florida
Haden has jumped to the top of the board amongst other corners with solid coverage and ball skills. He makes good reads and adjusts well to the ball when its in the air. And if weren’t for all of the college football media devoting 90% of their coverage to telling us what a model American Tim Tebow is, we’d all be more well aware of these facts.
24. Baltimore Ravens Brandon Graham DE Michigan
Graham is a big body that plays very well upfield. Scouts will love that he is versatile enough to play the end position in either scheme. Graham himself will love the opportunity to play in a place where defense traditionally comes first and athletes with skill sets usually thrive. Plus, it will be nice to get out of Ann Arbor before all the investigations begin, and players begin to find themselves in sticky situations.
25. New York Giants Jermaine Gresham TE Oklahoma
Gresham is an elite pass catching tight end. He can run a perfect seam route or he can cover a lot of space over the middle. He needs to work on his blocking but he should be a touchdown machine with his hands, size and route running skills.
26. Philadelphia Eagles CJ Spiller RB Clemson
Spiller’s a fast runner built on a solid frame. His outside running game and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is where he’ll make his mark, but he’s not afraid to go right at a defender. A little extra muscle and being able to show his durability will help Spiller’s stock go up.
27. Pittsburgh Steelers Jermaine Cunningham DE Florida
Cunningham isn’t as explosive as his teammate Carlos Dunlap but he is more reliable on a play by play basis. He gets to the quarterback with regularity and makes a lot of tackles in the run game as well.
28. Cincinnati Bengals Colt McCoy QB Texas
Believe it or not, it will be time start grooming Carson Palmer’s successor soon. Time flies doesn’t it? Best to do it now while you have the luxury of not being desperate
29. Minnesota Vikings Patrick Robinson CB Florida State
Robinson is a super fast coverage man that is above average in nearly every aspect of the game. He anticipates routes but isn’t a huge risk taker and tackles well in the open field. He is also a very good return man.
Belichick’s teams are always at their best after Thanksgiving, and now they have the added motivation of having a win over their bitterest of rivals stolen away from them by horrible officiating, so they might not lose again this year.And they need depth at LB. Bowman has spent much of the year ranked the #1 OLB prospect from ESPN.com He’s been an absolute force down the stretch for PSU, (another Big Ten defensive player of the week award today) and it’s becoming impossible not to compare him to Lavar Arrington- same school, position, and jersey number. Arrington went on to six Pro Bowls, so that’s quite a complement
31. New Orleans Saints Trevard Lindley CB Kentucky
Give how potent their O is, NOLA will obviously draft for D this spring. And Lindley is about to put the finishing touches on what could be the best-ever career by a University of Kentucky defensive back.
32. Indianapolis Colts Taylor Mays S USC
If you asked a scout to write down their ideal size and speed numbers for an NFL free safety they’d list: 6-3, 235, 4.4. Oddly enough that is Taylor’s height, weight and 40 time on record. Enough said.Follow paulmbanks