Another Look Back At The NFL Draft

By Lloyd Vance
Updated: April 30, 2007

NEW YORK — Now that the anticipation, drama, and excitement of the NFL Draft is in the books, I wanted to take a look back a day that was unpredictable and enjoyable. And let’s not forget, LONG!! The 72nd NFL Draft’s first day was the longest including a record first round of six hours, eight minutes.

Some topics that must be talked about from Day 1 are listed below:

Raiders Return to “Excellence”?: In one of the only picks that I was able tot predict, the Oakland Raiders decided that their man was JaMarcus Russell and selected him with the first overall pick. The big-armed quarterback calmly took the stage and the Raiders brought him home. There was no haggling over contracts, which cost Reggie Bush the first overall pick in 2006 and led the Texans to take Mario Williams. Russell will now team with Dominic Rhodes, Lamott Jordan , and the Raiders’ current set of WR’s (Ronald Curry, newly acquired Mike Williams from Detroit, and Jerry Porter) to restore their vertical passing game. Russell will get time to learn behind former Lions QB Josh McCown, who the Raiders acquired in a trade along with Williams.

Rip, Rip: That was the sound of mine and everyone’s Mock Drafts. No one can predict what will happen on Day One of the NFL Draft especially in the first round. Nothing was certain from the Lions selecting another WR Calvin Johnson in the first round to the Browns passing on Brady Quinn at No. 3 and then trading up to save him at No. 22. We saw rare in-division trades (Jets trading with Patriots and the Eagles and Cowboys working a deal ???) and players going places no one saw coming like Patrick Willis going to the 49ers at No. 11 after leading up to the draft everyone had Adam Carriker going at that pick. I even commiserated with ESPN NFL Writer John Clayton about the fun and unpredictability of the event as he didn’t have a lot of the slottings right.

Aggressive Trades: Teams not wanting to miss out on their guy were willing to ship later and future picks to move into position. The day included 17 trades starting with New York Jets to the delight of their fans at Radio City Music Hall moving into position with a trade with Carolina in the first round to scoop up Pitt CB Darrelle Revis at No. 14.

Other bigger trades that I liked included:

— Cleveland trading a high second round pick (36th overall) in 2007 and 2008 first rounder to Dallas for the Cowboys’ first pick. The Browns then grabbed Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn their hometown boy, who was suffering the green room until they rescued him. Dallas now will have two first round picks next year and they then shipped the pick to Philadelphia to take OLB/DE Anthony Spencer, who should team with DeMarcus Ware to former a devastating combo at DE.

— The Falcons moved up in the 2nd Round to grab my No.1 man to man CB Chris Houston from Arkansas . They traded with the Vikings with the Falcons getting the 41st overall pick and the Vikings getting a second and fourth. The Vikings used the pick to grab raw, but potentially explosive WR Sidney Rice from South Carolina

— I don’t know how Scott Pioli and Bill Belichek do it every year, but they always have a plan for the future on draft day and they execute it. The Patriots sensing that a team would want to make a splash at the end, where some prospects are not worth a first round pick, traded down and gain a base for next year. They shipped their first round pick to the 49ers for a fourth round pick and a coveted 2008 first round pick. The 49ers think they got a cornerstone O-lineman Joe Staley in the deal, but I thought the Patriots got the better of the deal.

— I don’t like to give “letter grades”, because as I always like to say it takes two to three years to evaluate a draft. That being said, some teams definitely did seem to strengthen and weaken their teams for the upcoming season and in some cases next season in the 2007 NFL Draft.

Early Winners

Cleveland Browns: I know everyone is questioning they gave too much to land quarterback Brady Quinn with the 22nd overall pick, but remember Charlie Frye is not the answer (17 picks) and they also landed Quinn’s new bodyguard left tackle in Joe Thomas. The team also moved up to grab troubled, but talent CB Eric Wright from UNLV. Many team passed on him for “character” issues, but my scout and several teams think has turned the corner.

St. Louis Rams: The Rams went with “high character” leadership type players. They added their new Grant Wistrom in Nebraska Defensive end Adam Carriker in the first round and Rutgers FB Brian Leonard in the second round. Carriker has the high-motor and effort needed to be a two-way DE and Leonard will flourish as a versatile back with his ability to block, run hard (especially at the goal line, 45 TDs), contribute on special teams, and catch over. I also liked the move of adding CB Jonathan Wade from Tennessee, he is a raw and fast player who should contribute and add depth their young secondary.

Carolina Panthers: They probably had the best day of anyone going for “big school” players, who will be able to contribute right away. They traded down to grab more picks and then got Dan Morgan’s replacement in tough Miami LB Jon Beason. I also like that they brought in Keyshawn Johnson clone USC WR Dwayne Jarrett. They then grabbed USC Center Ryan Kalil in the third round, which was a real steal, because he has first round value. They ended their day by grabbing Georgia speed rusher Charles Johnson in the third round.

Head Scratchers

I really didn’t see many huge reaches or losers, but two teams did some head scratching moves that caused their fans to be unhappy.

Miami Dolphins: They passed on grabbing Brady Quinn, who could have replaced the underachieving Daunte Culpepper and went with WR Ted Ginn. I really like Ginn’s explosive ability, but OT and QB were greater needs.

Philadelphia Eagles: I had one Eagles fan scream at me “An (expletive)quarterback? Why?”. I am not sure, but many of the fans were not happy after their team traded down with the Cowboys and then selected University of Houston QB Kevin Kolb with their first pick at No. 36. I was probably a long drive back to Philly, but you have to think that the Eagles got a replacement for McNabb, but they will have to wait three to four years to see him.

Lloyd’s Leftovers

— The LSU Tigers had four players taken in the first round: QB JaMarcus Russell (No. 1, Oakland ), FS LaRon Landry (No. 6, Washington), WR Dwayne Bowe (No. 23, Kansas City ) and WR Craig Davis (No. 30, San Diego ).

— Miami for the 14th year in a row had a player taken in the 1st round of the draft. They had three overall three first-rounders (Merriweather No. 24 to Patriots, Beason No. 25 to Carolina , and Olsen No. 31 to the Bears)

— NFL teams know where to go to find players, BCS schools in case you didn’t know. The best conference in college football the SEC led the way with 11 players in the first round from the SEC were taken in the first round. The Big Ten and the Atlantic Coast Conference were next with six each.

— The “Commish” Roger Goodell was everywhere at Radio City Music Hall . He spent quality time with media, fans, and players while working the room with ease. I really like his hands-on style of administration and lets hope he keeps up the good work.