View Full Version : Scouts Inc 1st Round Breakdown (Espn Insider)

04-28-2007, 07:15 PM
NEW YORK -- As expected, the Oakland Raiders made LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft. Our scouts explain the rationale behind that decision and every other first-day pick as they unfold.

Analysis: First round | Second round

Inside the first round

1. Oakland Raiders
The pick: JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU
Scouts take: Russell is the obvious pick for the Raiders because he fills a pressing need and has the most value at the position. Although he needs to continue to improve his decision making and work on his footwork, he has rare size and arm strength. He is accurate enough to hit receivers anywhere on the field and lead them when throwing underneath. He isn't a great scrambler, but he can pick up yardage with his feet when nothing is available downfield.

Now the question is can he succeed at Oakland? There is no question the offensive line has underachieved so he is going to take some hits, but he is big enough to absorb that kind of punishment and quick enough to buy him some time. An even greater concern may be surrounding him with quality character players. That could prove difficult considering the problems they had with their talented receivers last year and the fact that Lane Kiffin is a young, first-year head coach. If Kiffin can get Russell to buy into his system, the sky is the limit for Russell and the Raiders.

2. Detroit Lions
The pick: Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech.
Scouts take: Detroit Lions general manager Matt Millen will undoubtedly take a lot of heat for drafting yet another receiver in the first round, but Johnson is the best overall talent. In fact, he is arguably the most talented receiver taken in a decade. Blazing speed, impressive body control and formidable size could make Johnson one of the most difficult receivers in the league to cover this year. If he improves his consistency catching the ball and sharpens his route-running skills, defensive coordinators will have a difficult time finding ways to slow him down.

Ofensive coordinator Mike Martz should be smiling right now because he knows exactly how to get the most out of a player like Johnson. Johnson will benefit from playing under Martz as well because Martz's scheme demands his receivers run crisp routes. However, it's important to note that Johnson may not be in a Lions uniform next season. Detroit will likely entertain any trade offers from teams like Tampa Bay in an effort to stockpile picks.

3. Cleveland Browns
The pick: Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin.
Scouts take: The Browns really had to decide between Thomas, RB Adrian Peterson and QB Brady Quinn. The truth is all three were good values at this pick but taking Quinn would have made more sense because Charlie Frye isn't a franchise quarterback. That being said, Frye should be more effective with Thomas protecting the edge. A three-year starter at Wisconsin, Thomas gets into his pass set quickly, uses his long arms to ride edge rushers past the quarterback and can counter when ends try to redirect inside after starting outside.

While he isn't a great run blocker who can consistently drive two-gap defenders off the ball, he gets into sound position and plays with a bit of a mean streak. Thomas also does a good job of throwing blocks downfield. With the Browns already adding Seth McKinney and Eric Steinbach though free agency, Cleveland's offensive line should be substantially better this year.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The pick: Gaines Adams, DE, Clemson
Scouts take: The Buccaneers would have loved to have drafted Johnson and reportedly considered taking Quinn here, but at the end of the day, Adams is the right pick. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's Cover 2 schemes need productive pass rushers up front to be truly effective and the front four needed a boost. Veteran Simeon Rice recorded just two sacks in the eight games in 2006 and Dewayne White, who recorded five sacks, is now with Detroit. Adams, who is the most explosive pass-rusher in this class, should provide that much-needed shot of adrenaline. He has excellent first-step quickness and shows rare closing speed once he turns the corner. If he doesn't get to the quarterback, he generally gets his hands up and times his jumps well.

The biggest concern with him is his ability to anchor against the run and teams should have some success running right at him, but the scheme will help mask this weakness. Kiffin will generally ask Adams to use his burst to get into the backfield rather than asking him to stack the blocker up and then react to the play.

5. Arizona Cardinals
The pick: Levi Brown, OT, Penn State
Scouts take: Most draft analysts, including ourselves, didn't see Brown going this high, but it doesn't come as a complete shock because his stock has been steadily rising over the past two weeks. In fact, some front offices saw Brown as an equal if not better talent than Joe Thomas heading into this weekend. Of course, the departure of Leonard Davis has created a vacancy at left tackle, so getting Brown fills the Cardinals' most pressing need. Brown should immediately step in as the starter opposite free-agent signee Mike Gandy and for good reason. He is bigger and more physical than Thomas. His ability to open up holes and wear down opponents over the course of a game should please both RB Edgerrin James and new head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who is expected to run early and often.

Though Brown isn't an elite pass blocker and he needs to work on his footwork, he's no slouch either, so he should be able to hold his own depending on the matchup. More importantly, he has the athleticism and quickness to develop into an excellent pass blocker who can consistently hold his own on an island.

6. Washington Redskins
The pick: LaRon Landry, S, LSU
Scouts take: It's impossible to say whether or not this is the perfect move for Washington at this point because the Redskins have so few picks and no one knows exactly what transpired in terms of trade offers leading up to the pick. If they weren't offered quality value for the pick, then taking Landry is an excellent move. Though the Redskins have more pressing needs than safety, it is a need and there's nothing Landry can't do. He is a tough run defender who takes the shortest path to the ball and delivers big hits. He times hits well and punishes receivers that go over the middle. He can cover the deep half of the field and can match up with slot receivers.

One area of concern is his ability to play the ball when it's in the air, but he has adequate ball skills and he should benefit from lining up next to Sean Taylor. Taylor's excellent range and ability to play a center fielder-type role will help protect Landry. Finally, having such talented safeties gives the Redskins more freedom in terms of mixing as well as hiding coverages and helps the pass rush out by forcing quarterbacks to hold on to the ball longer.

7. Minnesota Vikings
The pick: Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma
Scouts take: This is another example of a team making the right decision by trumping need with value. While the Vikings have more pressing needs at several other positions, including defensive end and running back, Adrian Peterson is too good to pass up on. Peterson is a tough runner who can pick up yards between the tackles and break tackles when he gets into the open field. He has the burst to turn the corner, make the first defender miss and turn on the jets when he finds a seam.

Oklahoma admittedly didn't throw to Peterson much but he has shown signs of developing into a quality receiver. Of course, there are the durability issues. However, Minnesota already has Chester Taylor on the roster, so they wont have to lean on Peterson as much as a lot of other teams would have had they taken them.

8. Atlanta Falcons
Pick acquired from Houston
The pick: Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas
Scouts take: Chances are Anderson wasn't the Falcons' first choice; they need to get a safety that can make an impact this year. They were also reportedly hoping to get one of the top two offensive tackles if they didn't take a safety. But with Landry, Thomas and Brown off the board, Atlanta did well to get decent value and fill its need at defensive end here. Anderson certainly needs to get more consistent and he doesn't have elite athletic ability.

However, he is a relentless pass-rusher who has good closing speed and can deliver the big hits when he gets to the quarterback, which should soften the blow of losing Patrick Kerney. Atlanta's run defense should benefit from getting Anderson. Anderson has the size to hold his ground against the run and the upper-body strength to shed blocks quickly once he learns how to use his hands a little better.

9. Miami Dolphins
The pick: Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Ohio State
Scouts take: Can you say curveball? Let's start with the good because it's easier to get out of the way. Ginn is a playmaker with blazing speed. He can go the distance every time he touches the ball, whether it's on returns or catching the ball on offense. And the truth is the Dolphins need help at receiver and in the return game with Wes Welker now with New England. Now let's get to the bad. First off, passing on Quinn was a huge mistake. Even if Miami is going to trade for Trent Green, he is a dinosaur by NFL standards and there are obviously concerns about his ability to stay healthy.

Bringing in Quinn as an insurance policy and an outstanding heir apparent would have been the right move. Secondly, there are no guarantees Ginn will develop into a quality No. 2 receiver. While he has excellent speed, he ran just three routes at Ohio State, so he has a tremendous amount of work to do in that area.

10. Houston Texans
Pick acquired from Atlanta
The pick: Amobi Okoye, DT, Louisville
Scouts take: The Texans had a more pressing need at corner and both of the top two were still on the board at the No. 10 pick. Either Darrelle Revis or Leon Hall would be great values at this pick and fill a more pressing need. That has to be noted, but Okoye is still an excellent pick and the reason is great defenses are built from the inside out.

Okoye has excellent initial quickness, good strength and the frame to comfortably add weight. He can get after the passer and disrupt running plays in the backfield. In addition, defensive tackle is also a need and Okoye should compete for a starting role.

11. San Francisco 49ers
The pick: Patrick Willis, LB, Ole Miss
Scouts take: Most draft analysts worried San Francisco wasn't interested in Willis because the organization didn't bring him in for a visit, but why bring him in when you know you are going to take him? Willis played for coach Mike Nolan and the 49ers staff at the Senior Bowl and they named him team captain that week. Chances are that's when San Francisco started to lean toward taking him and any doubts they had were likely erased during film studies. Willis needs to work on reading routes and possibly add some bulk to his frame, but he has few other weaknesses.

A stout run defender, he takes the shortest path to the ball and wraps up upon contact. Willis can also match up with most backs and tight ends when he drops into coverage. Finally, he is a leader on the field and a hard worker off it. In other words, he is the kind of player defenses are built around and he immediately improves San Francisco's defense.

12. Buffalo Bills
The pick: Marshawn Lynch, RB, California
Scouts take: Buffalo placed need over value with this pick. Lynch has shown flashes of developing into a difference maker. He's big enough to carry a heavy workload and his speed should make him a home run threat in the NFL. In other words, he can pound the ball inside and turn the corner as an outside runner. There's also reason to believe he'll emerge as a dangerous receiver out of the backfield, so he compares favorably to Peterson in a lot of ways. However, Lynch isn't on the same level as Peterson. He isn't as shifty as Peterson in the open field and, more importantly, there are concerns about his character stemming from an off-field incident in which he was accused of domestic and sexual assault (charges were never filed).

In addition, Lynch, much-like Peterson, has had some problems staying healthy, so this is a bit of a reach and Buffalo may have been better served taking a corner. However, running back is clearly a need and this could prove to be a great pick if Lynch pans out.

13. St. Louis Rams
The pick: Adam Carriker, DE, Nebraska
Scouts take: It's the best of both worlds for St. Louis fans, as the Rams filled a pressing need by drafting an excellent player and no one should be happier than Leonard Little. Though Carriker isn't fast enough to consistently turn the corner, he has the quickness to prevent blockers from getting into good position and he already shows a good variety of pass rush moves. His ability to get after the quarterback should make it more difficult for teams to adjust their pass protections to account for Little. Carriker could have an even bigger impact on the run defense.

Few young players use their hands and shed blocks as well as Carriker. He's also big enough to hold his own at the point of his attack and the nonstop motor to make plays in pursuit. However, no prospect is perfect and there is a reason he was the third defensive end taken in the draft, so Carriker has to continue to work on his pass rush moves and work on his ability to protect his legs when blockers try to cut him.

14.New York Jets
Pick acquired from Carolina
The pick: Darrelle Revis, CB, Pittsburgh
Scouts take: With both of the top two corners available and the Jets' top need a corner, they decided to pull the trigger on the day's first trade and pick up Revis. Although Revis can take too long to change directions at times and has some problems matching up with explosive slot receivers, he is still a first-round talent. More importantly, his instincts should make him an excellent fit for head coach Eric Mangini's defensive schemes and he is a playmaker than can make a difference.

He could also make an impact as a punt return man, which is probably one of the bigger reasons the Jets chose Revis over Leon Hall. Another reason may be Revis' fluidity. He does a slightly better job of opening his hips when he's forced to turn and run downfield, so he's less likely to get beat deep when left on an island.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers
The pick: Lawrence Timmons, LB, Florida State
Scouts take: Joey Porter's reign over Pittsburgh ended during the offseason and there is no heir apparent on the roster, so the Steelers are in desperate need of getting an edge rusher that can make an immediate impact. Timmons should be just the man for the job since he has the burst to turn the corner, athletic ability to develop an arsenal of pass rushes and the closing speed to quickly get to the quarterback. He won't make as much of an impact dropping into coverage and defending the run, but he should hold his own when asked to drop into coverage and he should chase plenty of backs down from behind. And if indeed the Steelers transition to a 4-3 defense at some point, Timmons is versatile enough to move to weakside linebacker.

16. Green Bay Packers
The pick: Justin Harrell, DT, Tennessee
Scouts take: Make no mistake about it, Justin Harrell is a talented player, and staying away from a player who has problems keeping his weight down like Alan Branch makes sense considering the problems the Packers had with Grady Jackson. However, tight end is a far greater need and Greg Olsen was still on the board, so they probably could have gotten a little more bang for the buck here, especially considering QB Brett Favre does a great job of finding his tight ends.

Harrell is coming off a serious arm injury, so there's reason to worry about his ability to stay healthy, and he isn't a great pass-rusher, but he should immediately improve the Packers' run defense. He has excellent lower-body strength and is virtually impossible to move once he establishes position. His ability to collapse the pocket will also make it easier for the edge rushers to get to the quarterback.

17. Denver Broncos
Pick acquired from Jacksonville
The pick: Jarvis Moss, DE, Florida
Scouts take: Denver executes the second trade of the day and takes a chance on Moss in the hopes of getting an elite pass-rusher. While saying the Broncos are making a deal with the devil here would be harsh, there are some minor character concerns about Moss after Florida suspended him for a game last year. With the league cracking down on players that commit off-field infractions, it's important Moss stay out of trouble. If he can, he is capable of giving the pass rush a substantial boost. Moss anticipates snap counts well, explodes off the ball and closes extremely well. The Broncos will likely use him as a situational pass-rusher, but there is a chance he develops into an every-down player if he can add some weight without sacrificing any quickness.

18. Cincinnati Bengals
The pick: Leon Hall, CB, Michigan
Scouts take: Hall is an excellent addition and he should push for immediate playing time opposite Jonathan Joseph. He is a physical cover corner who is tough enough to match up with bigger receivers, athletic enough to stay with slot receivers and can make big plays in coverage. Character isn't a concern, either. Hall hasn't had any problems off the field and he works hard at improving his game. However, Ohio State fans will be quick to point out that he lacks ideal turn-and-run skills despite his excellent 40 time. The Bengals will have to give him safety help over the top when he lines up opposite a premiere deep threat. But the bottom line here is Cincinnati has done a good job of using the draft to build a potentially excellent secondary.

19. Tennessee Titans
The pick: Michael Griffin, S, Texas
Scouts take: This is isn't as bad as Miami taking Ginn, but drafting Griffin was still bad for the Titans. Most teams are looking to add one or two starters through the draft unless it's a quarterback, and then there's Tennessee. The Titans need a corner that can step into the starting slot opposite free-agent singing Nick Harper, a receiver that can make an immediate impact and a running back that can share the load with LenDale White. Taking a safety here rather than a receiver like Robert Meachem or Dwayne Bowe makes it a lot more difficult to fill those holes. That's not to say Griffin isn't going to be a player in this league. Though he gets caught out of position at times and he needs to get a little bigger, he will smack the ball carrier in the mouth and has above-average cover skills, so he should push for immediate playing time.

20. New York Giants
The pick:Aaron Ross, CB, Texas
Scouts take: Sam Madison and R.W. McQuarters have both lost a step and are now liabilities when left on an island, so taking a corner makes sense and the Giants got an excellent one in Ross. He possesses a very good blend of size, speed, instincts and ball skills. If he develops as expected, he'll emerge as a playmaking starter in the NFL. Don't overlook the impact he should make on special teams because the Giants made Chad Morton a cap casualty and need help in that area. It's also worth noting that Central Michigan OT Joe Staley also would have been an excellent selection.

21. Jacksonville Jaguars
Pick acquired from Denver
The pick:Reggie Nelson, S, Florida
Scouts take: Filling the No. 1 need and getting great value at the pick is all any team could ask for and the Jaguars did just that with this pick. Critics point out that Nelson is somewhat one-dimensional because he isn't big enough to line up in the box and be a great run defender, but he has great range. His ability to cover so much ground should make him an immediate upgrade over FS Gerald Sensabaugh, and he gives the Jaguars another playmaker to complement DC Rashean Mathis. In addition, the Jaguars should feel comfortable with this pick because of their familiarity with the player. Jacksonville isn't too far from Gainesville and head coach Jack Del Rio reportedly attended the Gators' Pro Day.

22. Cleveland Browns
Pick acquired from Dallas
The pick: Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame
Scouts take: It looked like Cleveland general manager Phil Savage would have to decide between Joe Thomas, Brady Quinn and Adrian Peterson when he woke up this morning. Now the Browns get two out of three and we're sure he had to give up a lot to get Quinn, but teams have had to give up similar value in similar trades. Though most teams would rather not start a rookie quarterback, Quinn has the poise to step in right away and has enough confidence to learn from his mistakes along the way. It also helps that the Browns have done an excellent job of improving the offensive line during the offseason, and Quinn shouldn't get harassed as much as Charlie Frye did last season.

23. Kansas City Chiefs
The pick: Dwayne Bowe, WR, LSU
Scouts take: The wonders never cease. It seems like Kansas City's top need the past five seasons has been receiver, and the Chiefs haven't taken one since they drafted Sylvester Morris in 2000. The hope is Bowe pans out, and there's reason to be optimistic. He has outstanding size, he catches the ball well and he makes fluid cuts, so he clearly has the potential to develop into a reliable possession receiver. Though he doesn't have elite speed and he isn't going to run by defensive backs, he is big and fast enough to make the occasional play downfield, so he can stretch defenses vertically. With Larry Johnson expected back and Bowe taking advantage of TE Tony Gonzalez keeping the safeties occupied, this offense should be even more productive than it was last year, despite the likely departure of Trent Green.

24. New England Patriots
Pick acquired from Seattle
The pick: Brandon Meriweather, S, Miami
Scouts take: New England has a reputation for not drafting players with character concerns. And with new commissioner Roger Goodell trying to clean up the league by getting tougher with players, we didn't expect the Pats to draft Meriweather, who was seen trying to stomp on players during the now infamous Miami-Florida International brawl. But the truth is this organization has taken risks in the past. The reason they haven't been as criticized as some other teams is the players they bring in buy into the team philosophy and stay out of trouble. Don't be surprised to see the same thing happen here. New England's veterans should bring him into the fold and the fact that he should see plenty of playing time should help. The reason he should see the field so much is because of durability concerns surrounding the Pats' starters and simply the fact that he is too talented to keep on the sidelines. Meriweather has excellent instincts, he shows great range and he is an effective open-field tackler.

25. Carolina Panthers
Pick acquired from New York Jets
The pick: Jon Beason, LB, Miami
Scouts take: The Panthers probably would have liked to have gotten an inside linebacker or a safety, but the value just wasn't there. Another option was tight end Greg Olsen, who was still on the board, so Carolina could have done slightly better here. It's tough to be critical of the pick, however. Beason is an excellent value at this point in the first round and he is more than capable of pushing Na'il Diggs for playing time on the weak side.

The Panthers will likely work on his cover skills, but he has a great blend of instincts, quickness and tenacity. It's also worth noting that Beason has adequate size and the frame to get even bigger, so there's a chance Carolina considers moving him inside if MLB Dan Morgan can't stay healthy.

26. Dallas Cowboys
Pick acquired from Philadelphia
The pick: Anthony Spencer, DE, Purdue
Scouts take: Dallas' reputation for taking defensive players continues with the selection of Spencer, who capitalized on an impressive senior season by moving into the first round. Spencer is an explosive up-the-field player who has excellent initial quickness and closes well once he turns the corner, so he should make an immediate impact rushing the passer. He's also big and tough enough to develop into an effective run stopper. However, this isn't a great pick. First off, Spencer isn't big enough to line up at defensive end in a 3-4 scheme and he may not be athletic enough to develop into an every-down outside linebacker. More importantly, the Cowboys have far more pressing needs.

27. New Orleans Saints
The pick: Robert Meachem, WR, Tennessee
Scouts take: Defensive tackle is the top need for the Saints and Alan Branch was still on the board. Linebacker is the second-greatest need and David Harris was still on the board. Corner is the third-greatest need and Chris Houston was still available. And didn't New Orleans find a pretty decent receiver on the second day of the draft last year? The point is the Saints should have addressed their needs on the defensive side of the ball before taking advantage of a deep receiver corps. At least they picked up a talented receiver. Meachem has the speed to stretch the field and open up the underneath routes for Marques Colston. He can also produce after the catch. However, Meachem isn't a great route runner and he needs to get more physical or corners will have some success pushing him around.

28. San Francisco 49ers
Pick acquired from New England
The pick: Joe Staley, OT, Central Michigan
Scouts take: Most people felt Staley wouldn't be available at this pick and the 49ers were wise to trade up to get him because Baltimore likely would have taken him with the next pick. Staley is a former tight end who has the quick feet to redirect in pass protection and the quickness to prevent edge rushers from turning the corner. He's also big and tenacious enough to develop into an effective drive blocker once he gets a little stronger, learns to keep his hips under him and use his hands. With him in the fold, the 49ers can start him on the left side and move Jonas Jennings to the right side, where he is a slightly better pick. The odd man out is Kwame Harris, who hasn't panned out since San Francisco took him in the first round of the 2003 draft.

29. Baltimore Ravens
The pick: Ben Grubbs, G, Auburn
Scouts take: The Ravens may have taken Staley if he stayed on the board, but don't feel too bad for them. Grubbs is the best available guard and he is a great fit for the offense. Though Grubbs needs to work on his hand placement and footwork, it should come as little surprise considering his history. He lined up at defensive tackle during his true freshman season and moved to tight end the next year before moving to guard. His progress thus far should make the Ravens optimistic about progression and he's already capable of moving into the starting lineup. Grubbs is a powerful drive blocker who can open up holes in short-yardage situations and is always looking to put defenders on their backs. Baltimore should also be confident about his ability to hold up in pass protection because he has excellent quickness.

30. San Diego Chargers
The pick: Craig Davis, WR, LSU
Scouts take: Davis projected as an early second-round pick, so this is a bit of a reach but all-and-all a good pick. Though he is a raw route runner, Davis made great strides at the collegiate level and there's no questioning his natural ability. He reaches his top speed quickly and he has the second gear to run past defensive backs. A playmaker with the ball in his hands, he can create after the catch and return punts as well. And oh yeah, he fills the Chargers' greatest need. While Davis really isn't a ready-made No. 2 receiver, he could be San Diego's best receiver by the opening game of the season.

31. Chicago Bears
The pick: Greg Olsen, TE, Miami
Scouts take: The best available tight end is if off the board and the Bears filled one of their more important needs, but be weary of calling this is a great pick. Chicago should be excited about Olsen's ability to stretch the field and give their young quarterback a legitimate threat over the middle. Though he should also take advantage of the Bears' commitment to the run setting up the play-action, Olsen is a mediocre blocker at best. If he is to play an every-down role, he'll have to get a lot stronger at the point of attack and a lot tougher. Until he does, he should strictly be a situational receiving tight end.

32. Indianapolis Colts
The pick: Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Ohio State
Scouts take: Taking a defensive player like Penn State OLB Paul Posluszny makes a little more sense here. However, the departure of Brandon Stokley means Indianapolis needed a No. 3 receiver and Gonzalez should slide right into that role. Though Gonzalez isn't as explosive as Ohio State teammate Ted Ginn Jr. and he doesn't return kicks either he is the more complete receiver. He runs crisp routes, he isn't afraid to go over the middle and he doesn't drop passes he should catch. It doesn't hurt that he is a hard worker who will learn the pro game from Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne either.