Editor's note: This story was first published in mid-April. With the Raiders' release on Thursday of quarterback JaMarcus Russell, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft, the story has new relevance.
Anyone in the NFL will tell you that it takes three years to judge a draft.
After completing a series looking how each team has done in the draft the last three years, I thought it would be interesting to look back at the first round from 2007, and see how it might look different if it was held today, knowing what we know about the top 32 players selected that year.
With the luxury of hindsight, we know that several teams made serious gaffes when attempting to identify potential difference-makers. JaMarcus Russell, for example, the top pick in that draft, wouldn't even be a first-round pick today. The Dolphins thought they had a playmaker in Ted Ginn Jr., but after three unproductive seasons, Miami traded him to San Francisco on Friday ... and received just a fifth-round pick in return.
Jamaal Anderson, Justin Harrell and Jarvis Moss are a few more examples of the serious misses that transpired on that fateful April day in 2007.
If we granted decision-makers another chance to conduct that draft again, what might it look like? Below is one man's take, with no attempt to match player with a team's need, either then or now. Look at it like a list of the top 32 players that came out in 2007, and note the absentees from the actual draft.
1. Oakland Raiders
Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma
Peterson -- the Vikings' pick at No. 7 in the 2007 draft -- has been an absolute terror since entering the league and moves up six spots due to his game-breaking production. Peterson has finished among the top five rushers in the league in each of his three NFL seasons, including leading the league in 2008. That's the kind of production that is normally expected of the top pick in the draft.
2. Detroit Lions
Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech
The Lions struck gold at this selection in 2007. "Megatron" has been sensational as the Lions' No. 1 receiver. He tied for the league lead in receiving touchdowns in 2008 (12), and has emerged as one of the top young wideouts in the game.
3. Cleveland Browns
Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin
Like the Lions before them, the Browns found a Pro Bowl-caliber player to plug immediately into their starting lineup in 2007. Thomas has earned high praise from his peers after being only the second offensive linemen to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Patrick Willis, LB, Mississippi
Willis, who went No. 11 to the 49ers in 2007, has positioned himself to take the torch from Ray Lewis as the best middle linebacker in the game. In three seasons, Willis has earned three Pro Bowl bids, and won the 2007 Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
5. Arizona Cardinals
Darrelle Revis, CB, Pittsburgh
The Jets -- who picked Revis at No. 14 in 2007 -- won't be so fortunate this time around. The quintessential shutdown corner has been leaving receivers stranded on "Revis Island" since entering the league. His exceptional cover skills have made him the most feared corner in the game.
6. Washington Redskins
Jon Beason, LB, Miami (Fla.)
Beason moves up 19 spots from No. 25 to the Panthers in 2007 to this spot in 2010. Beason has quietly developed into one of the elite players at the position. The two-time Pro Bowler perennially ranks among the league leaders in tackles, and stands out as a difference maker when he steps onto the field.
7. Minnesota Vikings
Michael Griffin, S, Texas
The Vikings got a lucky break on draft day in 2007, but that won't happen here. With their original pick -- Peterson -- no longer available, the Vikings look to fill another need with Griffin, who went No. 19 to the Titans in 2007. The ball-hawking Griffin has picked off 11 passes in the past three seasons.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Leon Hall, CB, Michigan
Jamaal Anderson hasn't exactly panned out as a pass-rushing threat in Atlanta, so the team opts to go in another direction with this pick. Hall -- a No. 18 pick to the Bengals in 2007 -- has quietly developed into one of the game's top young corners. Though his numbers don't reflect his superior cover skills, he has played at a Pro Bowl level over the past two seasons.
9. Miami Dolphins
Sidney Rice, WR, South Carolina
While the Dolphins' original pick at No. 9, Ted Ginn Jr., continues to attempt to reach the promise that earned him this spot in 2007, Rice -- a second-round selection by the Vikings in 2007 -- elevates to this lofty spot after a big 2009 season. Like Ginn, Rice's career got off to a slow start. Unlike Ginn, Rice was able overcome that slow start to ascend to the ranks of the elite at the position.
10. Houston Texans
Joe Staley, OT, Central Michigan
Staley was a late first-round pick (28th overall) to the 49ers in 2007, but his play as a pro would make him a more coveted talent in this 2007 draft do-over. Staley has become one of the better players at the position, and his versatility (capable of playing right or left tackle) would make him a prized commodity at this point in the draft.
11. San Francisco 49ers
LaMarr Woodley, LB, Michigan
With Willis no longer available, the 49ers opt for another linebacker. Woodley -- a second-round pick by the Steelers in 2007 -- made the transition from college defensive end to Pro Bowl linebacker in only three years. With 25 sacks in the past two seasons, he has become one of the top rushing threats in the league.
12. Buffalo Bills
Marshawn Lynch, RB, California
Just like in 2007, Lynch lands in Buffalo in 2010. Lynch's off-field transgressions have overshadowed his accomplishments as a player, but he did post back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons to start his career in Buffalo.
13. St. Louis Rams
Eric Wright, CB, UNLV
Wright -- originally a second-round pick by the Browns in 2007 -- gets lost among the elite corners in the league, but his play has been borderline sensational throughout his first three seasons.
14. New York Jets
David Harris, LB, Michigan
The Jets get Harris, again, just not in the second round like in 2007. The Jets' star has toiled in relative anonymity, but his steady play has him on the cusp of joining the elite at the position. Harris' outstanding 2009 season should've resulted in his first Pro Bowl appearance.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Grubbs, G, Auburn
Grubbs -- a No. 29 overall pick by the Ravens in 2007 -- is the kind of rugged blocker that could have perennially manned the guard position in the Steel City.
16. Green Bay Packers
Levi Brown, OT, Penn State
Brown drops from the No. 5 draft spot (to the Cardinals) in 2007 to this spot here, but that's not to diminish what Brown has contributed on the field. Brown has been solid as a right tackle, and his presence along the Packers' offensive line could have curbed the team's woes in pass protection.
17. Denver Broncos
Greg Olsen, TE, Miami (Fla.)
Olsen -- a No. 31 overall pick by the Bears in 2007 -- hasn't earned any all-star accolades, but he has shown the potential to be Pro Bowl-worthy with his solid performance during the first three seasons of his career.
18. Cincinnati Bengals
LaRon Landry, S, LSU
Landry falls from No. 6 to the Redskins in 2007 to this spot. Still, the hard-hitting safety has shown flashes of being a teeth-rattling enforcer in the middle of the field. Although he suffers from occasional mental lapses in coverage, he is the kind of intimidator that defensive coordinators covet in their secondary.
19. Tennessee Titans
Dwayne Bowe, WR, LSU
Bowe's first two seasons showcased his immense potential as a No. 1 receiver. Although he regressed in his third year, Bowe -- a No. 23 overall pick by the Chiefs in 2007 -- is a dynamic young talent at the position.
20. New York Giants
Steve Smith, WR, Southern California
Smith moves out of the second round to be a first-round pick here. Smith's ascension has been the result of his diligent work under the demanding Tom Coughlin.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Central Florida
22. Cleveland Browns
Kevin Kolb, QB, Houston
After watching the failures of Russell and Brady Quinn, Kolb -- a second-rounder for the Eagles in 2007 -- might be the best quarterback to emerge from the 2007 draft class. Although he only has two career starts under his belt, his back-to-back games with more than 300 yards last season is far more noteworthy than any of the performances of his classmates.
23. Kansas City Chiefs
Justin Blalock, G, Texas
The hard-nosed Blalock -- a second-round pick by the Falcons in 2007 -- has been rock-solid in his play throughout his career, and his presence in the middle of the Chiefs line would be welcomed by the team's current administration.
24. New England Patriots
Brandon Meriweather, S, Miami (Fla.)
25. Carolina Panthers
Tanard Jackson, S, Syracuse
Jackson is quickly becoming one of the most complete players at the position, and that explains his rise from fourth-rounder in 2007 (to the Buccaneers) to first-rounder in this draft do-over. His career-high five interceptions in 2009 are indicative of his ball-hawking skills, and the team's film room houses plenty of footage of his bone-jarring hits.
26. Dallas Cowboys
Anthony Spencer, LB, Purdue
Spencer's career got off to a slow start, but the light came on near the end of 2009 and the results were spectacular, which keeps the former Boilermaker in this spot in the draft.
27. New Orleans Saints
Aaron Ross, CB, Texas
An injury-plagued 2009 for Ross -- a No. 20 overall pick by the Giants in 2007 -- shouldn't detract from the outstanding promise that he displayed during his first two seasons.
28. San Francisco 49ers
Paul Posluszny, LB, Penn State
Posluszny slipped into the early stages of the second round (to the Bills) in 2007, but moves up a few spots here after becoming a dominant force at middle linebacker. Posluszny has established himself as such even after missing his rookie season with an injury.
29. Baltimore Ravens
Brent Celek, TE, Cincinnati
Celek -- a fifth-round pick by the Eagles in 2007 -- enjoyed a breakout season in 2009, and flashed the potential to become a difference-maker as a deep middle threat.
30. San Diego Chargers
Lawrence Timmons, LB, Florida State
Just like in Pittsburgh -- which took the linebacker No. 15 overall in 2007 -- Timmons' unique skill set would make him a dangerous weapon in the Chargers' 3-4 defensive scheme. Although he normally aligns as an inside linebacker, Timmons has recorded 12 sacks in the past two seasons as a situational pass rusher.
31. Chicago Bears
Zach Miller, TE, Arizona State
Miller -- a second-round pick in 2007 to the Raiders -- has displayed exceptional skills as a pass-catching specialist from the tight end position.
32. Indianapolis Colts
Steve Breaston, WR, Michigan
The unheralded Breaston -- a fifth-rounder for the Cardinals in 2007 -- posted a 1,000-yard season in his second season, and is quickly becoming an impact player as a slot receiver.