Of course, there are no do-overs when it comes to the NFL draft. You simply live with the picks you make, whether they work out or not. But what if teams could go back and rewrite history? This week, NFL.com will do just that by looking at each draft from 2004 to 2008 and assign do-overs based on what we know now. Today, Michael Lombardi rewrites 2007.
The 2007 NFL Draft was one of the least favorite drafts of my entire career. Not because of the quality of talent that year, but because I was in exile, essentially on double-secret probation while working for the Oakland Raiders.
I wasn't allowed to participate in any draft meetings or work in the draft room on the day of the draft, because I was being punished.
Because of the results of the 2006 season -- in which the Raiders went 2-14 -- my time with the organization was coming to an end (someone had to take blame for the epic disaster, which was predicted before it even happened). But even though I wasn't involved with the draft preparation or in the meetings, I was still able to evaluate all the players, which has enabled me to feel prepared and well served to "do-over" the 2007 draft.
1. Oakland Raiders
Actual pick: JaMarcus Russell
Do-over pick: Darrelle Revis
With no quarterback on the roster, who could blame the Raiders for trying to solve the problem with Russell? However, in hindsight (precisely what a "do-over column" provides), picking a real shutdown corner in Revis might have been the better option. The Raiders, a team that traditionally loves corners, could have had the best pair in the league by selecting Revis and teaming him with their own Pro Bowl corner, Nnamdi Asomugha.
2. Detroit Lions
Actual pick:Calvin Johnson
Do-over pick: Johnson
How many times in the last 15 years would the Lions kill to "do over" a first-round pick? The past two years have been winners, though, and this one was a slam dunk. However, it was Detroit's third receiver picked in a four-year span. At least the Lions got this one right. Should I have assigned them Adrian Peterson here? Forget about it, when the Lions get it right, let them keep the selection.
3. Cleveland Browns
Rarely would I ever disagree with picking a left tackle over a running back, but in this case Peterson is just not any back. He is special, a genuine blue-chip player who alters games. A running back of his talent comes along once every five or 10 years. So when it happens, just turn the card in and make the pick.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Actual pick: Gaines Adams
Do-over pick:Patrick Willis
The Bucs were looking for the next Simeon Rice -- a defensive end who could come off the edge and be a disruptive force in the passing game. Unfortunately, Adams was not able to duplicate Rice's disruptive skills and was eventually traded to Chicago. Tragically, Adams died while a member of the Bears before he had a chance to re-establish his career. Had the Bucs picked Patrick Willis, he would have been that disruptive player and given them a linebacker that would remind all Bucs fans of Derrick Brooks.
5. Arizona Cardinals
Actual pick: Levi Brown
Do-over pick:Joe Thomas
The Cardinals needed to repair their weak offensive line, and Brown seemed like the best pick on the board. But he has not been the answer -- then or now. In fact, had the Cards gotten a stronger performance from Mike Gandy in their Super Bowl loss to the Steelers, they might have won the game. Yes, Gandy was their left tackle for that game in 2009, not Brown, which says all you need to know about the pick. Had Thomas been available, the Cards would have gotten their left tackle, and maybe their first Super Bowl win.
6. Washington Redskins
Actual pick:LaRon Landry
Do-over pick: Landry
The Redskins drafted Landry, pairing him alongside Pro Bowl safety Sean Taylor to form a dynamic duo in its secondary. Both could play the game with a physical style that made opposing wide receivers reluctant to come over the middle of the field. Sadly, the football world tragically lost Taylor in 2007, and the 'Skins lost one half of their duo on the field. Landry is best on the second level, attacking the passer, and would have been an even better player had Taylor still been by his side.
7. Minnesota Vikings
Actual pick:Adrian Peterson
Do-over pick: Jon Beason
Even the Vikings never expected Peterson to make it to them at No. 7 overall. In spite of signing former Ravens running back Chester Taylor to a starting-level contract in free agency, the Vikings smartly didn't allow Peterson to pass them by. Therefore, in the do-over, we can't let the Vikings get lucky two times in a row. Without Peterson on the board, the Vikings get Jon Beason, a fast, athletic linebacker who would fit perfectly into their defensive scheme.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Actual pick: Jamaal Anderson
Do-over pick:LaMarr Woodley
Anderson has been a disaster, barely making any plays, let alone showing the pass-rushing skills he was supposed to possess. Woodley plays outside backer for the Steelers, but he would have fit perfectly into the Falcons' scheme as a down defensive lineman displaying his ability to get to the quarterback and making an impact all over the field.
9. Miami Dolphins
Then-general manager Randy Mueller and then-coach Cam Cameron took tremendous criticism for not making Brady Quinn their pick here at No. 9. The criticism might have been justified, but not with regard to Quinn. Had the Dolphins picked Staley here, there would have been no need to select Jake Long the following year. Maybe, then, the 'Fins would have looked more closely at quarterback Matt Ryan. Interesting how one bad pick can trigger other picks, which keeps teams from solving their real problems.
10. Houston Texans
Okoye was advertised as being a young player with an incredibly bright future based on his quickness and power. He was going to be a disruptive, Warren Sapp-type at the three-technique. And, along with Pro Bowl defensive end Mario Williams, Okoye would anchor the Texans' strong defensive line. But the Texans missed with this pick, and had they selected Leon Hall they might not have the worst secondary in the NFL today. Hall would have given the Texans one corner who could cover, something they do not currently have on their roster.
|The Giants' small gamble on Ahmad Bradshaw in the seventh round has paid big dividends. (Brad Mills/US Presswire)|
Best values of 2007 draft
Second round: Three teams nailed it in the second -- the Jets, Raiders and Browns -- as OLB David Harris, TE Zach Miller and CB Eric Wright, respectively, have become productive starters for each team. It would be difficult to declare a winner in this round, but as we will learn later, the Jets have won both the first and second rounds in this draft.
Third round: Jacksonville was forced to wait for WR Mike Sims-Walker to develop into a starting receiver in his third year due to a knee injury he suffered as a rookie. Their patience was rewarded as Sims-Walker has 122 catches and 14 touchdowns over two seasons. He is now a free agent and fits perfectly with a team in search of a No. 2 receiver.
Fourth round: Finding a left tackle in any round is difficult, so when a team can find a quality one in the fourth round like the Saints did in Jermon Bushrod (No. 125), then clearly they win the round.
Fifth round: In the first round the Rams selected defensive tackle Adam Carriker, yet in reality got a better tackle at No. 154 overall when they selected Michigan State defensive lineman Cliff Ryan, who is a good run defender.
Sixth round: The Packers, under the direction of GM Ted Thompson, always seem to find diamonds in later rounds, and Desmond Bishop in the sixth (No. 192) has proven to be a gem. When Nick Barnett was injured, Bishop got his chance and took full advantage. Now he is firmly settled in as one of the starting 'backers on the Super Bowl champs.
Seventh round: So often in later rounds teams are willing to take a chance on players, as the reward far outweighs the risk. This was the case with the Giants selecting Marshall running back Ahmad Bradshaw (No. 250), who had some off-the-field issues that prevented other teams from selecting him earlier.
Clearly the Raiders, under new coach Lane Kiffin, wanted to get their franchise quarterback to restore their once proud franchise. However, Russell had the talent to play but not the motivation. Rarely do first overall picks leave the league after only three years, but that showed the lack of desire Russell had to be a pro.
|Even with just four picks, the Jets had a heck of a draft thanks, in large part, to taking Darrelle Revis. (Kirby Lee/US Presswire)|
Best team draft
As I mentioned earlier, the New York Jets hit home runs with their first two picks, Revis and Harris. The Jets only had four picks, but the first two were so good it gave them a foundation for the future.
Worst team draft
It was one-and-done for Cameron and Mueller, in part because of the Dolphins' 1-15 performance but also because of their 2007 draft. Ginn never became a stud receiver, as his only success came in the return game. Meanwhile, John Beck proved not to be the starting quarterback of the future. With the exception of defensive tackle Paul Soliai, picked in the fourth round, no pick made a difference or is even on their team today.
Fooled us all
The Colts badly needed a left tackle to replace the retired Tarik Glenn, so they decided to give up a future first-round pick to draft the athletic and talented Tony Ugoh from Arkansas in the second round. Ugoh had the foot quickness and athletic skill to play left tackle, but never showed the power to handle the job.
When the Eagles selected Kevin Kolb at the top of the second, many observers were surprised considering Donovan McNabb was still in his prime. But now with McNabb gone, and Michael Vick as the starter, Kolb is no longer the right fit for the Birds. At some point, when we have an actual offseason, Kolb will be traded.
Fell to the right team
University of Cincinnati tight end Brent Celek was picked in the fifth round, 162nd overall by the Eagles, and has blossomed into a quality pass-catching tight end. Had he gone to a team that would want their tight ends to do more in the run game, then perhaps Celek would not have made it.
Makes sense after all
It took the Lions' No. 2 overall pick Johnson a little time to get adapted to the pro game, but once he was up to speed he justified Detroit drafting another receiver. Now, with Matthew Stafford at quarterback, the Lions have the makings of an explosive offense.
Follow Michael Lombardi on Twitter @michaelombardi