MOCK DRAFT: Round 1
Pick Team Player Pos. School Class Previous Rising/Falling High/Low
1. Raiders JaMarcus Russell QB LSU Junior 3rd (+2) > 1st / 10th
Brady Quinn and Calvin Johnson may be tempting here, but Russell will be the pick. Blessed with an arm from the heavens, Russell's cannon comes with legend and lore. You've heard the stories — 80 yard passes, the drills where he throws through the uprights from his knees ... at midfield. Al Davis loves the long ball, and Lane Kiffin will be delighted to have Russell's athleticism to work with in his first year as Raiders head coach.
2. Lions Joe Thomas OT Wisconsin Senior 2nd SAME 2nd / 5th
Calvin Johnson may be the best player available, but there's no chance Matt Millen ever drafts another wide receiver in the first round. As for the quarterback situation, Jon Kitna wasn't terrible in 2006. He threw for over 4,000 yards. Yet, he was sacked a league-high 63 times. Thomas will be the core of the Lions offensive line for the next decade. A can't miss NFL prospect, the 6-7 giant is the right pick here.
**3. Browns Adrian Peterson RB Oklahoma Junior 8th (+5) 3rd / 8th
How good is Adrian Peterson? When Bears DT and Oklahoma grad Dusty Dvoracek was asked whether he thought the Sooners running back will be a good pro player on media day, Dvoracek answered: "Adrian Peterson is going to be a Hall of Fame player. Mark it down in ink. He's going to be one of the best NFL running backs we've ever seen." With questions at both the quarterback and running back positions, Cleveland can do no wrong taking Peterson here. Hall of Fame or not.
**4. Buccaneers Calvin Johnson WR Georgia Tech Junior 4th SAME 2nd / 4th
A no-brainer at No. 4. Johnson's stellar career at Georgia Tech was capped off with an incredible Gator Bowl versus West Virginia. In a losing effort, Johnson caught nine balls for 186 yards and two touchdowns. On the year, Atlanta's second "Human Highlight Reel" hauled in 76 balls for 1,202 yards and scored 14 touchdowns. All of that, of course, came with one of nation's most inconsistent quarterbacks throwing him the ball. Whether it's Chris Simms or Bruce Gradkowksi throwing him the rock next year — either will be a vast improvement over Reggie Ball.
5. Cardinals Gaines Adams DE Clemson Senior 5th SAME 4th / 5th
The Cardinals had the fourth worst defense in the league; Adams is the top defensive player in the draft. Arizona gave up an average of 350 yards per game in '06. With speed and strength off the edge, Adams will be a nice fit in the desert. Sure, the Buzzsaw would love to get its hands on Joe Thomas. But it isn't happening at No. 5.
6. Redskins Alan Branch DT Michigan Junior 6th SAME 6th / 6th
The Redskins D got beat up all year long. Tiki Barber's 234-yard effort in the season's final week was the nail in the coffin on what was just a horrible campaign for the unit. Branch is a beast in the middle, able to both stop the run and rush the passer. A wise pick, here.
7. Vikings Jamaal Anderson DE Arkansas Junior NR 7th / NR
Talk about a guy who shot up the draft charts. Before the '06 season, few people had even heard of Anderson. Now, he's a sure-fire top 10 pick. Though the Vikings boasted one of the top rushing defenses in the league this year, they had serious trouble rushing the passer. DE Kenechi Udeze — the starting right defensive end for 16 games — recorded zero sacks on the season. Erasmus James, meanwhile, is still recovering from an injury. Anderson had 13.5 sacks for the Razorbacks as a junior this year. He'll make an immediate impact on Brad Childress's defense.
8. Texans Brady Quinn QB Notre Dame Senior 1st (-7) 1st / 8th
The "Can't Miss" buzz on Quinn has quieted down since his dud in the Sugar Bowl, but he's still a top 10 pick. I can't see the Texans sticking with David Carr for another season. Don't be shocked if the former top pick overall is traded to Cleveland or Jacksonville for a third- or fourth-round pick in this year's draft. If Houston can dump Carr, Quinn will be tough to pass up at No. 8.
9. Dolphins LaRon Landry S LSU Senior 11th (+2) 9th / 11th
The best defensive back in the draft, Landry can play either strong or free safety in the pros. Cam Cameron may want to load up on offense, but college football's top defense's team leader is the right pick, here. LaRon's brother Dawan starts for the Ravens
10. Falcons Dwayne Jarrett WR USC Junior 10th SAME 10th / 11th
Bobby Petrino loves to throw the ball. And though the book's still open on whether Michael Vick can be that passing quarterback, adding a weapon like Jarrett can't hurt. Keyshawn Johnson said Jarrett's not ready for the NFL. He's wrong. After 11 catches for 205 yards and two touchdowns in the Rose Bowl, this is a clear no-brainer for the Falcons. Jarrett, unlike past first-round picks Roddy White and Michael Jenkins, is a true No. 1 wide receiver.
11. ***** Darrelle Revis CB Pittsburgh Junior 9th (-2) 9th / 15th
The Niners have some young talent on the offensive side of the ball, but are lacking young playmakers on the D. San Francisco gave up the seventh most yards in the league in '06, and teams passed for 223.2 yards per game over 16 games. Revis is a top flight corner who can start right away
12. Bills Levi Brown OT Penn State Senior 17th (+5) 17th / 31st
A two-time All American, Brown is one of the top offensive linemen in this year's draft. He's played both left and right tackle for the Nittany Lions, and was one of the key hole creators for Tony Hunt in '06.
13. Rams Patrick Willis LB Ole Miss Senior 13th SAME 12th / 13th
Another stud in Mobile last week. The Butkus Award winner and SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Willis recorded 137 tackles and had three sacks in '06. A complete package who can go sideline to sideline, Willis will pay immediate dividends for the Rams' often inconsistent defense.
14. Panthers Reggie Nelson S Florida Junior 14th SAME 13th / 14th
This may be a little soon for Nelson, but John Fox, a defensive mastermind, will take him if he's there. Carolina's safety situation was iffy in '06, ravaged by injuries and inconsistency. Nelson had 50 tackles, six interceptions, and countless huge hits for the BCS champion Gators.
15. Steelers Leon Hall CB Michigan Senior 15th SAME 8th / 15th
Hall got lit up in his last two games at Michigan — first by Ted Ginn, and then by Dwayne Jarrett. He's still a first-round selection. Pittsburgh's cornerback situation was hit or miss in '06. One of the Big Ten's best defensive players, Hall could start immediately for Mike Tomlin's defense in '07.
16. Packers Marshawn Lynch RB California Junior 16th SAME 14th / 16th
Lynch's name has appeared in the police blotter a bit over the past month, but that shouldn't cause his draft status to slip much. A Lynch/Aaron Rodgers Cal Bears backfield could make for a nice future up in Green Bay. Don't be surprised if Ted Thompson and the Packers try to move up a few spots if Adrian Peterson slips out of the top five.
17. Jaguars Amobi Okoye DT Louisville Junior 32nd (+15) 17th / 32nd
The kid! Okoye impressed in Mobile two weeks ago, bumping up his draft position a few spots with a great week of practice. Only 19, Okoye has — gulp, I hate saying this — "tremendous upside."
18. Bengals Paul Posluszny LB Penn State Senior 22nd (+4) 18th / 25th
The Bengals need two things: a) a defensive stopper at linebacker, and b) "character guys". Posluszny fits both roles. Poz recorded 100 tackles or more in three of his four seasons in Happy Valley, an unheard of statistic for a college player. The 2005 Butkus Award winner, he'll add stability to a team that needs a rock in the middle.
19. Titans Ted Ginn, Jr. WR Ohio State Junior 19th SAME 19th / 19th
A dynamic multi-purpose target for Vince Young over the next decade, Ginn can be the do-everything guy the Titans offense sorely needs. Have Ginn returning kicks and Pacman Jones returning punts, and you have one of the most explosive special teams units in the NFL.
20. Giants LaMarr Woodley LB Michigan Senior 18th (-2) 18th / 20th
Two years in a row, the Giants defense was ravaged by injury. They'd be wise to bulk up and add more guys who can play various positions. When Lavar Arrington went down against Dallas, the Giants had to scramble for linebacker help. Carlos Emmons and Brandon Short weren't exactly Taylor and Banks. Woodley, a star at Michigan, played both defensive end and linebacker in college. If he's still around at 20, the Giants brass would be wise to scoop him up.
21. Broncos Daymeion Hughes CB Cal Senior NR 21st / NR
Hughes won the prestigious Lott Trophy as a senior, intercepting eight balls and coming up with an impressive 67 tackles. A lock-down corner, Hughes could start right away for the Broncos next season.
22. Cowboys Justin Blalock OT Texas Senior 23rd (+1) 22nd / NR
Dallas will look to upgrade their spotty offensive line with the best available lineman on the board. Tony Romo was a man on the run all season. Blalock, a two-time All-American, can play both the tackle and guard positions. At 6-4, 330, he's surprisingly quick on his feet. A Texas guy, this seems like the logical pick.
23. Chiefs Lawrence Timmons LB Florida State Junior NR 23rd / NR
Along with Buster Davis, Timmons was one of few bright stars for Florida State this season. Playing the outside linebacker position, he was a beast against the run and solid in coverage in '06. At 6-3 and 230 pounds, Timmons could be one of the more athletic defensive players in this year's draft. Kansas City could take a shot at one of the remaining wideouts on the board, but Herman Edwards loves his defense. The Chiefs can't go wrong with Timmons at 23.
24. Patriots (from Seahawks) Brandon Siler LB Florida Junior NR 24th / NR
The middle linebacker on the BCS champion Florida Gators, Siler's play in the final weeks of the season bumped him into a first-round pick. A former SEC Freshman of the Year, Siler's been a defensive leader for three seasons in Gainesville. New England's linebacker corps is old, and only getting older. How many years can the Patriots rely on Tedy Bruschi and guys like Junior Seau and Tully Banta-Cain to play three downs every drive? Siler offers some much needed youth to an aging unit.
25. Jets Rufus Alexander LB Oklahoma Senior 26th (+1) 25th / 29th
Forgotten in all the hoopla over the Fiesta Bowl was the game Rufus Alexander had for Oklahoma. In on every play, the Big 12 Defensive Player of Year proved why he belongs in the first round come April. A bit undersized for an NFL linebacker, Alexander makes up for it with his speed and fearless tenacity. The Jets can use an effective, high-energy young outside linebacker. Alexander fills that role perfectly.
26. Eagles Dwayne Bowe WR LSU Senior 24th (-2) 24th / NR
Bowe was the shining star of Mobile. Pair him up with fellow former SEC stars Reggie Brown and Donte Stallworth, and you have one of the more intriguing wide receiver threesomes in the NFL. Bowe capped off a fabulous career in Baton Rouge with 60 receptions, 912 yards and 11 touchdowns in '06.
27. Saints Michael Griffin S Texas Senior 25th (-2) 25th / 27th
New Orleans safety Jay Bellamy is a 13-year vet who exceeded expectations in '06. A tackling machine, Michael Griffin can join Josh Bullocks to form the safety tandem of the future. Griffin recorded 116 from the safety spot for Texas in 2006. He could start as a rookie for New Orleans next season.
28. Patriots Buster Davis LB Florida State Senior 20th (-8) 20th / 28th
Four defensive players out of FSU were drafted in the first round last year. Meanwhile, Davis was arguably the best defensive player of the '05 FSU squad. In '06, he did nothing but improve. A sideline-to-sideline guy, the 5-foot-11 senior recorded 102 tackles and was an All-American. If New England can scoop up two top linebackers in the first round, their defense could be bolstered for years to come.
29. Ravens Sidney Rice WR South Carolina Junior NR NR 29th / NR
As a red-shirt sophomore in '06, Rice caught 72 balls for 1,090 yards and scored 10 touchdowns for Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks. At 6-foot-4, Rice is a huge target at the wide-out spot. Still raw, Rice will likely slip out of the top 20. And though Baltimore may not be sold on who will be the team's quarterback of the future, Rice could be the team's No. 1 wide receiver heading into the next decade.
30. Chargers Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr. WR UTEP Senior 30th SAME 30th / NR
Possibly the fastest wide receiver in the draft, Higgins was UTEP quarterback Jordan Palmer's No. 1 target for the past two seasons. The senior caught 82 passes for 1,319 yards and scored 13 touchdowns in '06, capping off a fabulous career in El Paso. An added bonus for San Diego? His cousin is Chargers corner Quentin Jammer. Higgins may be a bit of a reach here, but the success of guys like Santana Moss and Steve Smith has opened doors for smaller wideouts.
31. Bears Arron Sears OG Tennessee Senior 31st SAME 31st / NR
Sears capped off a stellar collegiate career by winning the Jacobs Award, given annually to the SEC's top lineman. Having played both tackle and guard at Tennessee, he offers versatility at the position. At 6-foot-4, 320 pounds, he'll protect the Bears quarterback of the future ... whoever that may be.
32. Colts Quentin Moses DE Georgia Senior 32nd (-25) 7th / 32nd
Moses has slipped on draft boards across the Internet, including this one. The wrap is that the Georgia senior can't stop the run. Indianapolis may lose both Cato June and Dwight Freeney to free agency. They'll look to bolster that defense through the draft. Taking a risk on Moses can't hurt. But who knows? After all, this is the same team that gave up 170 rushing yards per game in the regular season, then became the best defense in the league throughout the playoffs.