2007 NFL Draft in Review
By Mike Doria
RotoWire Football Editor
After weeks on end of mocking it up and Kiperizing the NFL Draft, the 2007 edition of the festivities is finally in the books.
Heading into selection weekend, there was plenty of buzz about fast and furious trade action early on in the draft, but in fact the anticipated flurry of maneuvers - the Bucs making a move to secure Calvin Johnson was considered a lock by many -- did not occur until the Jets moved from No. 25 into the No. 14 slot to select CB Darrelle Revis.
As usual, there are a handful of players who could make a fantasy impact out of the gate - Marshawn Lynch, Adrian Peterson, Brandon Jackson, Greg Olsen and Johnson come to mind. Then there will be others who will eventually earn a role with strong training camps or who are later handed more responsibility as injuries hit. Think of the likes of Chris Henry, Michael Bush, Dwayne Bowe, Dwayne Jarrett, Robert Meachem and even this year's draft free-faller, Brady Quinn.
Below, we break down some of the skill players who have a shot to land on the fantasy radar this season.
JaMarcus Russell, LSU (6-6, 263) OAK -- The Raiders had to have been tempted to go for Calvin Johnson, the consensus top player in the draft --regardless of position -- especially knowing that Randy Moss was about to be run out of town. However, another year of going with a retread QB was unacceptable to the organization that passed on Matt Leinart in last year's draft.
With experience, Russell, owner of arguably the best arm in football, should be able to make any sort of throw, not just the howitzer. For now, he needs to work on the consistency of his delivery and footwork and will likely have a chance to do so while either Andrew Walter or draft-day acquisition Josh McCown hold the fort down in 2007.
While not a blazingly fast runner, Russell is a load who can break tackles, giving him upside as a chain-mover. He will also power his way to some short touchdowns, a la Daunte Culpepper in his prime.
Fantasy Outlook: Yes, he's a franchise QB in the making, but he's raw and the Raiders would be smart not to rush the LSU product. It would take a two-pronged McCown /Walter implosion for Russell to be thrust into action quickly and even if he is, neither the team's O-line or receiving weapons suggest that instant success is a real possibility.
Brady Quinn, Notre Dame (6-3, 226) CLE -- Quinn, an Ohio native, saw his beloved Browns pass on him at No. 3, which began a perplexing freefall for the former Golden Domer. Unlike JaMarcus Russell, Quinn doesn't have a rocket arm - but he can make the short-to-intermediate throws with some zip. Having worked under highly respected offensive mind Charlie Weis, he is probably the most NFL-ready signal caller in the class of 2007. Though Quinn is not a scrambler, he can move well in the pocket and he's a gym rat with a solid enough build to take a pounding. Some will criticize his play in the big games at the college level, but he's a level-headed kid, who has a very good chance to be the steal of the draft, having slid all the way to No. 22 overall.
Fantasy Outlook: The Browns paid dearly (a second rounder and their No. 1 pick next year) to secure Quinn, but the guy they grabbed before him (OT Joe Thomas) is the kind of player the team can build its line around. Quinn is not guaranteed the team's starting QB job from the get-go, but he will have a real chance to overtake both Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson in training camp.
Drew Stanton, Michigan State (6-3, 235) DET -- Stanton, a classic boom or bust prospect, has all the tools you look for in a successful pro -- size, arm strength and the ability to move around in the pocket. But thus far he has shown a tendency to force things and until he can achieve some consistency by working on his mechanics, he'll continue to be a work in progress. That said, Jon Kita is not a long-term answer in Motown and if Stanton develops as hoped, there are worse situations for a young QB than running a Mike Martz offense featuring two of the most talented young wideouts in the game in Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson.
Fantasy Outlook: It will take an injury to Kitna for Stanton to be considered for extended playing time as a rookie, but with team's dynamic duo at wideout, whoever is behind center will be able to do some fantasy damage.
John Beck, Brigham Young (6-2, 215) MIA -- Through no fault of his own, Beck's career will forever be linked to that of Brady Quinn, who the Dolphins passed on in order to select wideout Ted Ginn Jr. in Round 1. Beck, considered a good decision maker, doesn't have a great deep arm and gets a few too many passes knocked down, but the Dolphins love his intangibles.
Fantasy Outlook: The Dolphins could kick Daunte Culpepper to the curb, and Cleo Lemon is probably not the future of the franchise, so Beck (at 25, older than most rookies) could get the starting job, sooner rather than later.
Trent Edwards, Stanford (6-4, 231) BUF - QB was not necessarily a need for the Bills, but Edwards, an accurate and heady passer, who some considered the top second-tier QB prospect in this draft, was a nice value in Round 3 and he'll have a chance to compete with Craig Nall for the team's top backup job behind J.P. Losman.
Fantasy Outlook: Losman has short-term job security, but it wasn't so long ago that Kelly Holcomb was the people's choice in Buffalo, so if Losman ends up regressing, Edwards could work his way into a starting role.
Troy Smith, Ohio State (6-0, 225) BAL - The Heisman Trophy winner had quite a college resume, but his less than ideal height caused him to slide all the way to the fifth round. On the plus side, Baltimore is good situation for the athletic Smith, who the team can groom as a possible replacement for veteran Steve McNair. Smith is mobile and savvy enough to find throwing lanes and just ask the Saints how far you can go with a "short" quarterback (Drew Brees).
Fantasy Outlook: Smith's athleticism and arm strength complement his intangibles, so don't count him out just because he doesn't need to shop at the Big and Tall store.
Kevin Kolb, Houston (6-3, 220) PHI - Some call Kolb a system QB and there's the perception that the Eagles reached to select him with the 36th overall pick, but if he had gone a round or two later he'd probably be tagged with the sleeper label. There are those who view this selection as a swipe at Donovan McNabb, but in reality, Philly's franchise QB has been not been the most durable player and at this point it's time to look past the team's low-upside backups, A.J. Feeley and Kelly Holcomb. Kolb has the touch and gunslinger mentality to succeed (with some coaching up) despite the groans his selection evoked on draft day.
Fantasy Outlook: Probably wouldn't be the guy the Eagles turned to if McNabb suffered a setback early, but by mid-season he could be the team's plan B.
Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma (6-2, 218) MIN -- His durability is a concern, but Peterson insists that his collarbone issues will be a thing of the past well before the NFL regular season opens. The Vikes appeared somewhat set at running back, with Chester Taylor coming off a 1,200-yard season, but it's hard to pass on an impact player like Peterson, who some compare to Hall-of-Famer Eric Dickerson. He's an aggressive runner (thus the injuries) with the power and strength to break tackles, and while he's not a "turn and burn" kind of guy, he can run through enough LBs and DE's to make the big plays.
Fantasy outlook: Despite having the "upright runner" tag which plays into the hands of the "he's brittle" gloomer and doomers, Peterson could end up having a run where he is the most productive fantasy player in this draft. It just won't be right away, as he'll be in a time-share with Taylor to start.
Marshawn Lynch, California (5-11, 217) BUF -- Despite the dreaded "character issues" red flag, it's impossible to dismiss Lynch's productivity at the college level. The Cal product is a tough runner, who can break tackles and bust away to make big plays in the mold of Laurence Maroney.
Assuming he can shake his happy feet tendency, Lynch should have no problem making Bills' fans forget Willis McGahee and his Buffalo-hating ways.
Fantasy outlook: No running back enters the season with a more clear-cut opportunity to seize a featured role out of the gate, with veteran back Anthony Thomas being his main competition for playing time. In the long-term, Adrian Peterson is obviously the better prospect, but at press time, Lynch has to be an early ROY favorite.
Michael Bush, Louisville (6-3, 253) OAK -- The Raiders got themselves a terrific bargain when Bush fell to them at the top of Round 4 due to injury concerns. The Louisville product has great size and possesses the sort of athleticism that is hard to find in guys his size. He could easily have drawn first round interest were it not for the broken leg he suffered early in the 2006 campaign. As long he can stay healthy and keep his weight in check, Bush has Jamal Lewis type upside.
Fantasy Outlook: He'll make a lot of teams look foolish for letting him slide to 100th overall, but initially he'll defer to LaMont Jordan and Dominic Rhodes. But when Bush is fully healthy and gets some reps in, watch out.
Kenny Irons, Auburn (5-11, 206) CIN -- Irons could stand to bulk up some, but he is a shifty back with superior quickness, who can be a nice complement to Bengals' starter Rudi Johnson.
Fantasy outlook - Irons could surprise if he ever gets the opportunity to carry a full load, even though many question whether he can handle a heavy workload as a pro. His arrival could spell the end in Cincy for the oft-injured Chris Perry.
Brandon Jackson, Nebraska (5-11, 210) GB -- Jackson is an athletic back who might have been one of the top ranked running backs in the 2008 draft had he stayed in school, so the Packers may have found themselves a sleeper if he continues to develop.
Fantasy Outlook: By the time your fantasy drafts and auctions roll around, this guy should be on the radar, given that Green Bay's other options (namely Noah Herron and Vernand Morency) at running back don't exactly inspire.
Tony Hunt, Penn State (6-2, 230) PHI -- Hunt is a big, strong, durable north-south runner, who the Eagles hope will be the cheesesteak to Brian Westbrook's filet mignon.
Fantasy outlook: He gives the Eagles the perfect burly smash-mouth complement to the smaller, more explosive Westbrook. If Hunt can demonstrate a nose for the end zone, he could have some value in TD-heavy leagues.
Antonio Pittman, Ohio State (5-11, 195) NO -- What Pittman lacks in bulk, he makes up for with burst, patience and home-run capability.
Fantasy outlook: The Ohio State product enters a crowded backfield behind Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush, but he could end up being Bush's prime sidekick before too long since it's hard to know what the Saints long-term plans are for McAllister.
Lorenzo Booker, Florida State (5-10, 193) MIA -- A great athlete with the quickness and elusiveness to break off big plays. Though Booker never turned into the Warrick Dunn clone that some though he would at Florida State, he projects as an ideal change-of-pace back (and a good pass-catcher to boot) as a pro, where good game-planning could put him in a position to make the occasional splash.
Fantasy outlook: Ronnie Brown is the man in Miami, but Booker will give the team a dynamic complementary option. If nothing else, Booker and Ted Ginn Jr. will add some spunk to the Dolphins' offense.
Chris Henry, Arizona (6-0, 228) TEN -- It's hard to know what to make of Henry, who didn't do a whole lot during his career at Arizona. He wooed scouts at the NFL Combine and certainly looks the part of a stud back. He's fast and powerful and if you want to look at the positive side of the small sample size that is his body of work, it's that he doesn't have a ton of mileage on the tires.
Fantasy outlook: Much depends on LenDale White's ability to stay fit and focused. Unless the Titans bring in a veteran back (like Corey Dillon or Chris Brown redux), the two young backs will battle for the starting job in training camp. Keep a close eye on how this pans out, as the winner of the job could end up providing nice fantasy value.
Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech (6-4, 237) DET -- Just what the Lions needed - another first-round wideout. This time GM Matt Millen's move may end up looking good (a new thing for him) since Johnson was only the best player in the draft. He's big, athletic, has great hands and despite having admitted to a little pot smoking in the past, he's seen as an outstanding young man. Think T.O. without the attitude.
Fantasy outlook: Johnson is as close-to can't miss as there is in any draft. He'll be worthy of fantasy consideration right away, but the monster stats will likely come in year two or three of what should be an outstanding career.
Dwayne Bowe LSU (6-2, 217) KC -- The Chiefs have been looking to upgrade at wideout for some time now and Bowe brings a nice mix of size, athletic ability and physicality to the table, along with some upside on short-to-intermediate routes and in the red zone. He's not a finesse guy, but the LSU product does all the little things and in time should be a good one at the pro level.
Fantasy outlook: Shouldn't have much trouble getting into the mix right away with the Chiefs. The team's QB situation is in flux, so temper your expectations, but Bowe is certainly worth a late-round flyer if your choice is between him and a mediocre vet.
Dwayne Jarrett, USC (6-5, 213) CAR -- Those who wondered what the Panthers would do with both Keyshawn Johnson and Jarrett, who many consider a young clone of the veteran wideout, got their answer when the outspoken pass-catcher/analyst was released just three days after Jarrett was selected. In the second round, Jarrett represents a tremendous bargain. He's a perfect example of the draft's dependence on stop-watches and tape measures, but his production and skills are plain as day on the game films. Jarrett has great size, body control and hands and with a little maturity, strong potential to do some red zone damage.
Fantasy outlook: Forget about the Mike Williams comparisons, this guy can play. He provides the Panthers with the perfect complement to the smaller, faster yard-collecting Steve Smith and is already worth a look in TD-heavy leagues.
Ted Ginn Jr., Ohio State (6-0, 180) MIA -- The Dolphins took so much heat for passing on Brady Quinn and drafting Ginn at No. 9, that we are pulling for the kid. We think that he can handle the pressure and though he went a little higher than he probably should have, he gives Miami a dynamic presence, who can do something special with the ball (as a wideout or returner) with his explosive speed any time he touches the ball. The knock on Ginn is that he is slightly built, but until suffering a foot injury in the National Championship game, he had been durable.
Fantasy outlook: Will make an immediate impact in the return game and in the long run is a major upgrade from Wes Welker as a slot guy. Short-term though, he figures to be a feast or famine type.
Robert Meachem, Tennessee (6-3, 211) NO -- The Saints could have used some help on defense, but Devery Henderson and Terrance Copper are probably more suited to complementary roles and the team's brass felt like they needed to replace Joe Horn. Meachem has good size, soft hands and enough speed to gain separation, plus his run after the catch skills will add a nice dimension to an already potent N0ew Orleans offense.
Fantasy outlook: The ton of yards that Drew Brees is bound to throw for have to go to someone and Marques Colston can't have them all…If Meacham can beat out Devery Henderson - keep an eye on this training camp battle - he could make impact as a rookie. Our guess is that he'll end up as a fine in-season pickup.
Sidney Rice, South Carolina (6-4, 202) MIN -- There are many who think that Rice would have benefited by staying in school and if he had, he could have been a first-rounder in 2008. He's raw, but the upside is clear with his blend of height, body control and leaping ability. He's a highlight-reel friendly kind of player and in time could develop into a terror on defenses, both vertically and in the red zone.
Fantasy outlook: His game could use some more polish, but the Vikings need receiving help now, so Rice will likely be thrust into a significant role sooner than would be ideal. He figures to have some ups and downs in 2007, but by the end of the year, he'll be recognized as second-round steal.
Anthony Gonzalez, Ohio State (6-0, 195) IND - Gonzalez is a nice route-runner and he couldn't have landed in a better spot than Indy, where he'll be in an offense that can play to his strengths. He took a back seat to Ted Ginn Jr. at Ohio State and will once again in Indy, to Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. But that's a role he'll excel in with his smarts and excellent ability to get open.
Fantasy outlook: The next Brandon Stokley and that's not bad as long as there's a horseshoe on his helmet.
Craig Davis, LSU (6-1, 207) SD -- The Chargers obviously liked Davis, using their top pick on him, which many considered a reach. If he produces, who cares if they could have had him 10-15 slots lower? San Diego really needed a speedy vertical threat, which is just what "Buster" is.
Fantasy outlook: A great fit for the Chargers, who will need someone to step up at wideout. A Davis/Vincent Jackson combo has potential, but this is still an offense fueled by the run.
Steve Smith, USC (5-11, 199) NYG -- A productive pass-catcher at USC, Smith gives the Giants another weapon for Eli Manning, which is not a bad idea considering that Amani Toomer is aging and coming off an injury.
Fanatsy outlook: There's not a ton of explosiveness here, but Smith should build a nice NFL career as a possession receiver.
Greg Olsen, Miami (6-4, 252) CHI -- All due respect to Desmond Clark, but the Bears were looking to get a whole lot more dynamic at tight end that's just what they accomplished by selecting Olsen in Round 1. While he could have been more productive at Miami, he has great timed speed and could develop into a younger version of the Ravens' Todd Heap.
Fantasy outlook: Rex Grossman can't always loft the ball up there and hope that one of his wideouts will pick it, so Olsen will provide the Bears with a safety valve, who also has some game-breaking potential.
Zach Miller, Arizona State (6-5, 259) OAK -- The Raiders have paraded a long list of tight ends through the system over the past few seasons, but Miller will be the one who sticks around and grows with JaMarcus Russell. Greg Olsen may have dazzled with his measurables, but Miller, owner of a solid pair of hands, can certainly develop into a solid all-around tight end in the pros.
Fantasy outlook: By next season, he could turn into the first Raiders' tight end in ages worthy of fantasy consideration.
Ben Patrick, Delaware (6-3, 252) ARZ -- The Cards got themselves a nice bargain when Patrick slid all the way to the seventh round. Despite his size, he gets around like a wideout and gives the team yet another pass-catching option for rising star QB, Matt Leinart.
Fantasy outlook: Along with Leonard Pope, he gives the team another weapon, though with Anquan Bolden and Larry Fitzgerald lining up at wideout, there may not be a ton left for the team's tight ends.
Article first appeared 5/2/07
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