Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Shaking Things Up (Mock Draft Version 3.0)

Just a few things to address before we get to the new mock draft:
  • If you haven't already done so, make sure you check out the Peyton Manning link on this page. Still haven't confirmed whether or not this story is actually true, but if it is, we've just witnessed another fascinating chapter in the life and times of Mr. PeePee.
  • For you fans of the UFC, please watch this disturbing interview with Chuck Liddell. It reaches its climax at the 1:30 mark. Hopefully, he was hopped up on drugs and not turning into Muhammed Ali right before our eyes. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for one of the fasting growing sports, that's for sure.
  • And finally, I have to rip today's big free agent signing. Let's see, the Miami Dolphins boast an aging, past-its-prime defense so... naturally, they go out and sign an aging, past-his-prime player. And as if that's not enough, $20 million of that contract is guaranteed! Look, I like Joey Porter as a player. But, to me, this ranks right up there with the Leonard Davis signing as 2007's worst move. All I know is the Dolphins better be a force this year because, come 2008, their entire defense might be signing up for AARP.
Okay, enough foreplay. It's time once again to play everybody's favorite guessing game, Mock Draft 2007 (Version 3.0)!

+ -- underclassman

1. Oakland Raiders (2-14)

+ Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech

Last week, I promised a shake-up at the top so it shouldn't come as a surprise to see Calvin Johnson's name here. For one, he's the best player available and teams have known that since the start. It's just that stud quarterbacks are a rare breed, so there's more value placed on that position. But here's the question you have to ask yourself if you're Oakland's GM (and you should thank God every night that you're not): Is there a franchise QB available in this draft? Brady Quinn's stock is already dropping because of his question marks and the more scouts inspect JaMarcus Russell's body of work (not to mention his body, period), I think doubts will surface there, too. So look for Oakland to dump Randy Moss and replace him with a younger, stronger, just as freakish specimen without the baggage and with a better attitude.

You're #1, CJ. Welcome to Hell

2. Detroit Lions (3-13)
Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin

Would Detroit really pass on Russell and stick with Jon Kitna for the time being? Hard to believe, but I say yes. Rod Marinelli is old school and knows that the game is won in the trenches, so Thomas is the pick. Of course, the Lions could be fielding a million trade offers if this scenario takes place, so don't be surprised if Detroit decides to trade down a couple spots.

3. Cleveland Browns (4-12)
+ JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU

No way Russell drops out of the top three. Cleveland gets its man and can finally ditch the Charlie Frye experiment once and for all.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)
Amobi Okoye, DT, Louisville

I'm pretty sure the Bucs would be heartbroken if this scenario unfolds (missing out on both Thomas and Johnson). In fact, I think Gruden and company might be so despondent that they momentarily lose their marbles and decide to draft Brady Quinn in an attempt to become the first NFL franchise to field a roster composed of nothing but quarterbacks. Think of the possibilities: "Rattay snaps to Simms, he hands off to Quinn, who gives the ball to Plummer on an end around but wait... now Plummer is throwing the ball all the way across the field to Gradkowski, who heaves a long bomb down the field to Garcia for a touchdown!!!". But instead, Tampa takes the boring way out and chooses my personal favorite, Amobi Okoye. I really want him on my team. And, yes, I know this is much earlier than most experts have him pegged, but his stock has been climbing since day one of the Senior Bowl workouts.

5. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)
+ Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma

Why would Arizona take Peterson when they already have so much money invested in Edgerrin James? Well, in case you hadn't noticed, the two back system is alive and well in the NFL. Plus, Edge isn't exactly a spring chicken these days. Anyway, I just don't see Peterson falling out of the top five and remember, this could be a prime trade down area, too. One word of warning about AP: I heard a rumor that x-rays from the combine revealed his collarbone has not healed properly. If this is true, Texans' fans might get their wish and see Peterson slide toward the bottom half of the top ten.

6. Washington Redskins (5-11)
+ Gaines Adams, DE, Georgia

'Skins need help getting to the quarterback and Adams is the best pass rusher in the draft. I'm starting to feel pretty confident about this one.

7. Minnesota Vikings (6-10)
Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame

Here's where things start to get very interesting. On the one hand, Minnesota invested a second-rounder in QB, Tavaris Jackson, just last year. But he sure didn't look ready to play at the end of the 2006 season. In reality, I think the Vikes will sign a Trent Green or trade for a David Carr rendering this mock pick moot. But until that happens, I'm giving them the not-so-mighty Quinn.

8. Houston Texans (6-10)
LaRon Landry, S, LSU

Before I address Landry, I should mention that Quinn to the Texans is starting to look more and more likely. David Carr is done in Houston. There's not a doubt in my mind. That day might not come for a couple of months, but mark my words, Carr will not be around come training camp. So if Quinn does fall in their laps, I just don't see how the Texans can pass on him. I'm not sure how I would feel about that. Not good, I'm guessing. On a related note, last year's draft day debacle just looks worse with every passing day, doesn't it? I said at the time that it could set this franchise back a decade and it still looks that way. Good gravy.

As for Landry, I know most teams don't like spending top ten picks on the safety position, but look what guys like Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu and Bob Sanders have meant to their teams. Landry is a playmaker in that mold and would fill a major need for Houston.

Come Join Our Decade of Mediocrity, LaRon!

9. Miami Dolphins (6-10)
Levi Brown, OT, Penn State

Speaking of filling a need, the Dolphins have to do something about that travesty they call an offensive line. I think Brown is a major reach here and I don't believe he's worth a top ten pick, but I also don't give Miami's front office much credit these days (see my Joey Porter rant above).

10. Atlanta (7-9)
+ Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas

I think the Falcons have their eyes on Ted Ginn and LaRon Landry here. But after losing Patrick Kerney to the Seahawks, it's time to shore up that defensive end spot, especially since John Abraham is an injury waiting to happen.

11. San Francisco 49ers (7-9)
+ Dwayne Jarrett, WR, USC

The 49ers' strategy is very clear at this point. They're building their defense through free agency, which means we can expect them to take care of the offense via the draft. I'm putting Jarrett here for now, but he HAS to run a decent 40 time during his private workout later this month. Otherwise, he'll be watching his stock go down faster than Jenna Jameson.

12. Buffalo Bills (7-9)
+ Marshawn Lynch, RB, Cal

Looks like Buffalo is desperate to rid itself of Mr. Humility, Willis McGahee. So assuming they do that, Lynch would be the perfect replacement.

13. St. Louis Rams (8-8)
Adam Carriker, DE, Nebraska

At some point, the Rams have to find some playmakers (outside of Leonard Little) on the defensive side of the ball. Perhaps Carriker can fill the void created when fellow Cornhusker, Grant Wistrom, took his kamikaze act to the Pacific Northwest

14. Carolina Panthers (8-8)

Alan Branch, DT, Michigan

This is much lower than Branch is projected, but rumors that he's lazy and takes plays off just won't go away. If he does fall here, John Fox would be more than happy to give him a home in Carolina next to Julius Peppers and Co.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
Patrick Willis, ILB, Ole Miss

Lose Joey Porter, then replace him with the hands-down, best linebacker in the draft. Steeler fans must sleep well at night knowing their front office always finds players, no matter where the club is drafting. I wonder how that feels?

16. Green Bay Packers (8-8)
+ Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Ohio State

Well, the Packers obviously need a running back to replace Ahman Green (trust me, Cheeseheads, you don't want to hitch your wagon to Vernand Morency), but there's no RB worth taking here. So why not put a stop to those silly Randy Moss rumors and take the human lightning bolt, known as Ted Ginn Jr.?

17. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8)
Leon Hall, CB, Michigan

I'm really not sold on Hall's credentials as a first round talent, but it's a weak CB crop and he's considered the best of the bunch. If the Jags don't take him, he's sure to go...

18. Cincinnati Bengals (8-8)
Chris Houston, CB, Arkansas

... to the Bengals, who are desperate for secondary help. With Hall off the board, they take this year's Workout Warrior Award winner, Chris Houston. He ran a 4.32 in the 40 and ripped off 27 reps in the bench press part of the program. How does this relate to his football acumen? It doesn't, really, but someone will fall in those with those numbers and take him a little higher than he probably deserves.

19. Tennessee Titans (8-8)
+ Sidney Rice, WR, South Carolina

Man, PacMan is such a jerk, isn't he? I mean, he is doing his best to negate all of the postive Vince Young karma. His off-field antics mean the Titans really need to start seriously considering DBs in the first round. But with the loss of Drew Bennett, Tennessee has to get VY some help at the wideout position. I say Rice is their man.

20. New York Giants (8-8)

+ Darrell Revis, CB, Pittsburgh

The Giants' secondary is a mess and it's time to retool. Revis would be a solid start.

21. Denver Broncos (9-7)
+ Charles Johnson, DE, Georgia

Broncos are another team that really needs help when it comes to pressuring the QB. Johnson's stock seems to be slipping a bit, but he can help fill a need.

22. Dallas Cowboys (9-7)
+ Reggie Nelson, S, Florida

Well, I'm finally giving the Cowboys the guy they truly covet. I hope it doesn't happen. But I'm feeling weak tonight, so here you go, Dallas. Too bad it won't matter as long as you have Wade roaming the sidelines.

23. Kansas City Chiefs (9-7)
+ Robert Meachem, WR, Tennessee

It's about time the Chiefs do something about their glaring need at WR. Why is it that great tight ends like Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates have thus far been cursed to play on teams with pathetic wide receivers?

24. New England Patriots (from Seattle)
Ben Grubbs, OG, Auburn

Grubbs is steadily moving up the draft board and New England loves to load up along the offensive and defensive lines. Perfect fit.

25. New York Jets (10-6)
Aaron Ross, CB, Texas

Gotta figure Mangini is perfectly happy to continue re-tooling his defense.

26. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)
+ Lawrence Timmons, OLB, Florida State

Timmons didn't exactly light up the combine the way I expected, but I still think defensive coordinator Jimmy Johnson would love to add him to his endless array of blitz packages.

27. New Orleans Saints (10-6)
Deymeion Hughes, CB, Cal

I'm very tempted to put Dwayne Bowe's name here. Local kid, who would help ease the pain of releasing another local guy, Joe Horn. But the Saints have to get better on the defensive side of the football (especially in the secondary) and Hughes is the best DB available. Yes, his combine times were slow, but he's better than the incumbent, Fred Thomas. Then again, I'm better than Fred Thomas, so I guess that's not saying much.

28. New England Patriots (12-4)
Paul Posluszny, LB, Penn State

Another possible landing spot for Bowe, but I'm guessing the Pats won't go WR in the first round after already spending a number two for Wes Welker. Instead, New England nabs the prototypical Patriot, Posluszny. The fit is almost too perfect.

29. Baltimore Ravens (13-3)
+ Jarvis Moss, DE/OLB, Florida

Lose Adalius Thomas, draft another hybrid freak, Jarvis Moss. The Steelers, Patriots and Ravens just know how to land on their feet. It really is astounding.

30. San Diego Chargers (14-2)
Dwayne Bowe, WR, LSU

Bowe finally comes off the board and, if he's here, the Chargers should be positively giddy. I think he might end up as the second best WR in his class (behind Calvin Johnson, of course).

31. Chicago Bears (13-3)
+ Greg Olsen, TE, Miami

Bears' fans have been desperate for a true pass-catching tight end, so I'll throw them a bone. Olsen lit up the combine, solidifying his status as the draft's top TE. Can those numbers translate on the field? Chicago will be perfectly happy to find out.

32. Indianapolis Colts (12-4)
Anthony Spencer, DE/OLB, Purdue

Another Indianapolis 'tweener. Hey, it worked for them this year, didn't it? Thought about giving them Anthony Gonzalez as a guy to play the Brandon Stokely role, but do you spend a first round pick on a player you intend to use as a number three receiver? Probably not. Besides, Indy's title defense depends on its, well... defense. So Spencer, it is.

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