This is not how I think the draft should be picked, this is how I think the draft will be picked, with all of the tendencies and patterns of each team's owners and coaches taken into consideration. (Note: There will, in all likelihood, be several first round trades. For the sake of argument, the picks have been left as is.)
I've also denoted three players in the top ten that will be busts and three players that are locks for greatness.
1. Oakland Raiders - JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU – BUST
The Raiders are correctly of the opinion that Calvin Johnson is the best player in the draft. However, they are in desperate need of a franchise quarterback. They say they are confident in back-up QB Andrew Walter, but let's be honest, nobody thinks their quarterback situation is good if they signed Aaron Brooks as their starter. Russell is massive (6-6, 256) and has one of the strongest arms to ever come into the league, but he's a paper Tiger, so to speak. Teams that get wrapped up in a quarterback's workout take players like Akili Smith and Kyle Boller. The Raiders will do the same.
2. Detroit Lions – Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech – LOCK
No. It can't be. Another wide receiver? Believe it. Despite taking a wide receiver with their first pick in three consecutive drafts, if the Lions stay in this spot, they'll do it again…and it'll be the best decision they'll have made in years (up there with taking Barry Sanders in 1989). Remember, two of those three wide receivers the Lions took were huge busts and they still have need at the position. The Lions' signing this week of wide receivers Marcus Robinson and Cliff Russell will still not prevent them from taking another wideout and grabbing the best player in the draft.
3. Cleveland Browns – Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame – BUST
Adrian Peterson is the right pick here, but the Browns have concerns -- which are legitimate, by the way -- about his durability. After that, it should be Joe Thomas, however the Browns have become enamored with the local boy and are looking for someone to throw the ball to Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow II. After completely missing the boat last year, ESPN's Merril Hoge will be right on the money this year when he says Quinn is ok, but not great and doesn't even belong in the first round. Quinn has accuracy issues on mid-level routes and doesn't handle pocket pressure well. He'll see far too much of it in Cleveland to be successful.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin – LOCK
The Bucs are pretty solid at tackle, but Thomas is far and away the best player available and Jon Gruden will take the best player he can. If Calvin Johnson doesn't fall to him, he takes Joe Thomas. A lot of "sure thing" O-linemen become busts, but if you look at those players, they tend to be overweight, with quickness and endurance issues (see: Mike Williams, formerly of the Buffalo Bills). Thomas is tall, lean and strong and will be a stalwart tackle.
5. Arizona Cardinals – Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma
Having Anquan Boldin didn't stop Arizona from taking Larry Fitzgerald and having Edgerrin James won't stop them from taking Adrian Peterson. James is getting up there in age (at least for a running back, anyway) and could form and powerful one-two punch with Peterson. Peterson's aggressive running style is almost reminiscent of Earl Campbell, but he doesn't have the Tyler Rose's durability. His skill set translates perfectly to the NFL, but the Cardinals will unfortunately only get five good years out of him.
6. Washington – Amobi Okoye, DT, Louisville
DE Gaines Adams is a better pick at this point to give Washington a legit pass-rusher, but owner Dan Snyder likes to grab headlines and would love to take the 19-year-old prodigy. The Warriors will grab the young Nigerian defensive tackle.
7. Minnesota Vikings – Gaines Adams, DE, Clemson
A perfect pick-up and a great value for the Vikings, Adams gives Minnesota a very talented edge rusher for years to come. Wide receiver is a possibility due to need, but the best remaining wideouts shouldn't go until later in the round.
8. Atlanta Falcons – LaRon Landry, S, LSU – LOCK
The Falcons will take Landry because of their rather desperate need at the position, but will end up with a big-time play-maker. Landry is fast, can play both the run and the pass and will step in immediately for Atlanta. Also, with Atlanta one of the league's best running backs in Michael Vick to control the clock, Landry should also be able to remain fresh during games.
9. Miami Dolphins – Levi Brown, OT, Penn State
Dolphins need offensive line. Dolphins take Levi Brown. Sunrise, sunset. Unless they can somehow make it up into the top two and take Calvin Johnson, Miami would do well to help their beleaguered front line.
10. Houston Texans – Vince Young, QB, Texas…oh, we can't take him now? Ok…
Leon Hall, CB, Michigan – BUST
Hall is considered the best corner in the draft and the Texans need big-time help in the secondary. But Hall, although very fast, got burned far too often and will have the same happen to him in the NFL. He gave up over 200 yards to Dwayne Jarrett in the Rose Bowl and ironically Jarrett's stock is falling while Hall's is rising in the eyes of scouts due primarily to 40 times.
11. San Francisco 49ers – Patrick Willis, LB, Ole Miss
Great play-maker who will help the 49ers continue to move in the right direction. The team is still a few years away, but is making impressive strides, including locking up Frank Gore at halfback with a long-term deal.
12. Buffalo Bills – Darrelle Revis, CB, Pittsburgh
While I'm projecting Hall to be a bust, Revis should be a solid corner in the NFL and will help the lowly Bills. RB Marshawn Lynch is a possibility, but the Bills should stick with Anthony Thomas at RB and get a value runner in a later round.
14. Carolina Panthers – Greg Olsen, TE, Miami
This is one of the surest picks in the eyes of the prognosticators and I have to agree. The Panthers need a great tight end and this is the perfect spot for Olsen.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas
Linebacker and guard are also needs for the Steelers, but they'll be happy to take the tall DE if he falls to them. Anderson can eat up a lot of space as well and will help free up the Steeler linebackers.
18. Cincinnati Bengals – Aaron Ross, CB, Texas
The Bengals take the first Longhorn off the board by picking up Aaron Ross. They don't have much depth in the secondary and Ross will play immediately for Cincinnati. The Bengals will be disappointed, however, when Ross doesn't get arrested.
19. Tennessee Titans – Dwayne Jarrett, WR, USC
Will be called a reach on draft day. Will turn out to be one of the smartest picks of the draft, giving Vince Young a desperately needed target with great hands.
22. Dallas Cowboys – Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Ohio State
The Cowboys haven't taken an offensive player in the first round since 1997. That changes with the pick-up of Ginn. I'm still of the opinion the Ginn doesn't run clean routes, has suspect hands and would make a better corner than wideout, but he's definitely a flashy player who can step in at an aging position for the ‘Boys. Also, their other best option is a Longhorn (Michael Griffin) and Jerry Jones doesn't draft Longhorns.
27. New Orleans Saints – Dwayne Bowe, WR, LSU
Without any great value picks at the Saints' other positions of need available (CB, LB, DT), New Orleans picks up another deep threat for Drew Brees in a local product.
29. Baltimore Ravens – Joe Staley, OT, Central Michigan
The Ravens need a solid addition to the offensive line. Justin Blalock is a possibility here, but I believe they go with the massive tackle from Central Michigan.
32. Indianapolis Colts – Justin Harrell, DT, Tennessee
Stock dropped after a torn biceps kept him out, but Harrell can be a big plug in the middle for Indianapolis, helping give Dwight Freeny more room to work with.
VY, Durant and... Russell?
by Clendon Ross
Inside Texas Publisher
April 25, 2007
Longhorn fans have been blessed over the past few years to have two once-a-generation, if not once-in-a-lifetime, college athletes donning the Burnt Orange: Heisman winner, er, should've-been-Heisman-winner Vince Young for Mack Brown at DKR and every-player-of-the-year-award-winner Kevin Durant for Rick Barnes over at the Drum. I think it may be time to add another name, and venue, to that list.
With 10 games left in the Texas baseball regular season, Kyle Russell already owns sole possession of the Longhorn single season home run record. He grabbed it last Tuesday in Houston with an opposite field shot in the sixth inning, his 21st home run of the year. Since then, after an 0-fer game in the series opener vs. Nebraska, he's added three more to push his total to 24. In those three games, two wins over Nebraska and a mercy-rule win over UT Pan-Am at the Disch, Russell has 10 hits and 10 RBI in 15 official at-bats.
Interestingly, two of the three guys who Russell passed while climbing up the Texas home runs charts, former No. 2 Brooks Kieschnick (19 in 1993) and former No. 3 Scott Bryant (18 in 1989), won the Dick Howser Trophy presented annually to the nation's outstanding college baseball player. But, despite five CWS appearances and two national titles since Kieschnick brought home the ''93 award, the Longhorns have been shut out for 13 years.
That streak could, and probably should, end this year.
Along with the home run record, Russell also leads the NCAA in long balls this season (Louisiana Tech's Brian Rike is four back at 20) and his .933 slugging percentage also leads D-I and, if the season ended today, would shatter the former top mark in Texas history (.743 by John Langerhans in 1971). And for good measure, after his recent hot streak, including hitting for the cycle Tuesday night, Russell's .380 batting averages paces the Horns.
He's another in a recent line of generational talents at Texas, but you better catch him in Austin while you can. He's a draft eligible sophomore because he'll turn 21 this June, so like VY and Durant before him, his player of the year caliber season could be his last in the Orange and White.
'Cotton' to the Idea of Leaving Dallas?
By Bill Frisbie
April 24, 2007
Will the last football team leaving the Cotton Bowl please turn off the lights? For that matter, should the Texas-Oklahoma series remain in the 77-year old stadium beyond the current contract extension?
Dallas Mayor Laura Miller announced Friday morning that the Red River Rivalry, waged every October at the Cotton Bowl since 1929, would remain in the facility through 2015. The press conference came on the heels an earlier announcement that even the January 1st Cotton Bowl Classic is relocating to the Dallas Cowboys new stadium in Arlington in 2010. But there is an undercurrent of thought that believes the UT-OU extension is simply a stop-gap measure as officials of both universities mull their options while awaiting completion of $50 million in stadium renovations.
Neither university sent a representative to the Mayor's news conference, but there is little doubt that Oklahoma desperately wants the series to remain in the recruiting-rich Lone Star state. (In fact, Sooner athletic officials have said the school would likely schedule another annual series at the neutral site should Texas-OU ever become a home-and-home). The rhetoric from the hallowed halls of Bellmont is not as supportive of the annual Border War remaining in Dallas.
A number of reasons have been posited (essentially, from UT sources) for shuttling the game between Austin and Norman:
1) Cha-ching! It is estimated that UT rakes in approximately $4 million per home game and that the economic impact for Austin is in the $15-to-$20 million range.
2) Recruiting. Mack Brown has done more to seal the borders of the Lone Star state from outside recruiters than has any Longhorn coach since the implementation of scholarship limits more than a quarter-century ago. But there is a strong sentiment that OU's foothold, especially in the Dallas area and east Texas, would be diminished if it was not for the school's annual pilgrimage across the Red River for such a high-profile showdown.
3) Winning streaks. The series has been excruciatingly cyclical for 60 years in which both programs take turns whupping the other for an extended periods of time. In short, it's been a coach-killer on both sidelines. A home-and-home series would go a long way towards ensuring no coach is ever on the losing side for, say, five straight years.
4). BCS 'style points'. Brown has lamented on a number of occasions that the BCS ratings place a higher premium on 'road wins' than 'neutral site' wins.
But whatever reason any UT official can offer for moving this game, it should not be predicated upon fear a losing a competitive edge -- either on the field or in the offices of high school head coaches -- to your arch-rival. And it certainly should not be about a measly $4 million when your program is already generating $58 million annually. Longhorn football will always be a cash cow; OU football will always find a way to recruit well south of the Red River even if this series is moved.
Keep the game at the Cotton Bowl, but with this condition: completion of the upgrades that include expanding the stadium to 90,000. (Cotton Bowl officials envision an iconoclastic stadium that would become the Rose Bowl of the Southwest). The overheated Texas-Oklahoma series is as much about the Tunnel, Big Tex, Fletchers Corny Dogs and the centerpiece of the State Fair as it is the Golden Hat Trophy, the Sooner Schooner and the Showband of the Southwest. It's half the stadium in full-throated delirium at the conclusion of each play and, eventually, a half-empty stadium during the post-game Trophy presentation. It is just one of three prominent D-I rivals (Florida-Georgia, Army-Navy) that remains at a neutral site. Texas-OU at the Cotton Bowl is one of the last holdouts of a glorious college football tradition that gets sold to the highest bidder with each passing season.
I can understand the reason why Oklahoma needs this series in Dallas more than Texas needs this series in Dallas. But let's not wave the (orange and) white flag for fear that the playing field is leveled should the series remain on neutral turf. After all, is there anything sweeter than 35,000 Longhorns in a full-chorus of "Poo-oor Sooners" as half the stadium, bitter and dejected, exits toward the Fletchers Stands?