The champion Colts will bask in the glare of the Lombardi Trophy for just a few weeks as pre-combine meetings have started all over the league.
Many teams view this draft as a seven- or eight-player draft. That means clubs are willing to trade up if they have ammunition to do so, or they will not deal down past a certain point in the top 10.
Others will wait their turn and opt to draft down – a strategy made trendy by Jimmy Johnson back in the 1990s. He figured it didn't make sense to draft a player with a second-round grade in the latter portions of the first round when you instead could accumulate a war chest of mid-round picks and mix and match throughout the seven rounds.
Our initial look at how the first round could play out only covered the top 10 choices. Mock draft No. 2 includes all 32 selections of the first round.
1. Oakland Raiders – JaMarcus Russell, quarterback, LSU. His ability to keep his eyes focused downfield, plus his rifle arm and eye-opening size, would make him a perfect fit for a Raiders team that lacked firepower and punch in its offense this past season.
2. Detroit Lions – Jamaal Anderson, defensive lineman, Arkansas. A quick glance at the Lions' depth chart shows that despite Calvin Johnson possibly being the most talented player on the board, they could use an impact defensive lineman. That makes Anderson highly attractive. Detroit is the team most others will look toward to make a deal since one of the two top-rated quarterbacks will still be available at this selection.
(A coin flip at the NFL combine will decide the No. 3 and No. 4 choices between Cleveland and Tampa Bay.)
3/4. Cleveland Browns – Alan Branch, defensive lineman, Michigan. Branch would fill a major void for the Browns, who would allow him to clog the middle while opening up lanes for their outside pass rushers and young linebackers Kamerion Wimbley and D'Qwell Jackson. Cleveland paid close attention to the interior line position leading up to last year's draft but opted to take the pass rusher, so addressing the spot this year should come as no surprise.
3/4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Calvin Johnson, wide receiver, Georgia Tech. The healthy return of quarterback Chris Simms, running back Carnell Williams and wide receiver Michael Clayton certainly will help, but having a playmaker on the outside like Johnson to line up across speedy veteran Joey Galloway would open up the ground attack and provide the Bucs' quarterback with the type of rare pass-catcher who can make plays anywhere on the field.
5. Arizona Cardinals – Joe Thomas, offensive tackle, Wisconsin. They have areas on the defensive side of the ball to address, but finding a tackle that can lock down and anchor their line for the next 10 years is a primary need heading into the offseason. The Steelers have made it a habit of dominating the line of scrimmage during Ken Whisenhunt's time in Pittsburgh; it is something he now will stress in Arizona.
6. Washington Redskins – Gaines Adams, defensive end, Clemson. While not a complete player, Adams possesses the primary asset of harassing the quarterback. Creating pressure and forcing throws would provide the 'Skins with an improved pass defense and likely force opposing teams into an increased number of turnovers in 2007.
7. Minnesota Vikings – Reggie Nelson, defensive back, Florida. Nelson has the cover skills to man-up against slot receivers and has keen awareness when called upon to blitz. It may seem out of the question for Nelson to come off the board this early now, but come draft day, he will have the type of meteoric rise that saw Donte' Whitner shoot into the top 10 a year ago.
8. Houston Texans – Marshawn Lynch, running back, California. He's just too good to pass up here, as he can run, catch and provide the big-play ability that only a handful of backs in the NFL possess. Adrian Peterson's name has often come up or been associated with this pick, but Lynch is a far better fit for the Texans' scheme because of his above-average hands. Also, both Gary Kubiak and Rick Smith have seen the type of instant impact a rookie back can bring as evidenced by the success of divisional rivals Jacksonville and Indianapolis.
9. Miami Dolphins – Brady Quinn, quarterback, Notre Dame. The Dolphins were close evaluators of Jay Cutler leading up to last year's draft and now sit in prime position to solidify the quarterback position once again. They have needs along the offensive line and at defensive tackle and safety, but those are likely to be addressed in free agency. Quinn is a good fit for Miami's marketplace, too, since he has a big name and the type of maturity and character to handle the South Beach lifestyle.
10. Atlanta Falcons – Ted Ginn Jr., wide receiver/return man, Ohio State. Bobby Petrino has been successful at every stop along the way, using a variety of schemes, formations and, most importantly, playmakers in a variety of roles. Ginn has been outspoken in his desire to play some defense at cornerback, so he'll fit right in with the Falcons' other elite playmakers in cornerback DeAngelo Hall, running backs Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood, and quarterback Michael Vick.
11. San Francisco 49ers – Amobi Okoye, defensive tackle, Louisville. The 49ers need to upgrade their defensive talent at cornerback and in the interior part of their line. In three to four years, Okoye will develop into one of this draft's best talents, and when he reaches that potential, he will still be only 23 years old. There is better depth at cornerback than interior line, so look for the 49ers to double-dip on corners later on.
12. Buffalo Bills – Aaron Ross, cornerback, Texas. The expected loss of cornerback Nate Clements in free agency opens the door for the Bills to find an ample replacement with Ross, who burst onto the scene with an outstanding senior campaign. He also can contribute to an already solid special teams unit.
13. St. Louis Rams – Charles Johnson, defensive end, Georgia. The Rams are hoping to upgrade a few areas, but none is more pressing than at outside pass rusher. Johnson was one of the best front-four playmakers, and he will wow scouts with his all-around athleticism, which will drive up his draft-day value.
14. Carolina Panthers – Lawrence Timmons, outside linebacker, Florida State. The Panthers' defense struggled after the loss of Will Witherspoon in free agency and Dan Morgan to injury. Timmons has amazing athleticism and brings the big-play ability Carolina lacked at the position this past season. The Panthers could also go off the board and take a guy like Adrian Peterson if he were to slip down this far.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Leon Hall, cornerback, Michigan. The Steelers got burned on the outside several times last season and hope to upgrade the corner position through the draft. Hall may lack the straight-line speed of Ike Taylor, but he would provide Pittsburgh with better ball skills and toughness. Hall also brings the experience of having defended many of the top-rated receivers in this year's draft.
16. Green Bay Packers – Adrian Peterson, running back, Oklahoma. While Peterson clearly is a top-five or top-10 talent, teams in need of a running back could address other positions, meaning he could fall right into the lap of the Packers. They need to upgrade the position, but they may opt for younger, fresher legs instead of re-signing veteran Ahman Green.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars – Adam Carriker, defensive lineman, Nebraska. The Jaguars need to spice up their outside pass rush, so the addition of Carriker, the best front-four defender still on the board, would give them a versatile prospect that can strengthen the play of their entire front seven.
18. Cincinnati Bengals – Darrelle Revis, cornerback, Pittsburgh. The Bengals are growing old on the outside, especially with Tory James hitting the free-agent market. Revis is a potential playmaker with no baggage, something that should be of more importance in their draft room this year.
19. Tennessee Titans – Robert Meachem, wide receiver, Tennessee. There will be several receiver options on the board, but the local talent may fit in the best. The former regime brought in a number of receivers, but none of them have become a primary go-to guy. And with Drew Bennett on the open market, the addition of Meachem would give Vince Young a vertical threat to grow with.
20. New York Giants – DeMarcus Tyler, defensive tackle, North Carolina State. The Giants could look for help at offensive tackle or running back, but their primary need is to find a run stuffer that can aid their ample pass rushers on the outside. "Tank" can step into the role as a rookie and secure the spot next to Fred Robbins, who is coming off his best season.
21. Denver Broncos – Jarvis Moss, defensive end, Florida. Using the leftover linemen from the Browns the past few years has grown old in the Mile High City, so this year's goal is to find a pass-rushing presence. Moss, who has upside if he can gain weight and concentrate full-time on football, would give the Broncos the young pass rusher they desire.
22. Dallas Cowboys – Brandon Meriweather, safety, Miami. The leak in their defensive unit starts over the top in pass coverage. That's why Meriweather, with his all-around play, would be a huge difference-maker for a team that still has its eyes on a Super Bowl berth next season.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Tony Ugoh, offensive tackle, Arkansas. The Chiefs went through offensive tackles at an unprecedented rate, and that slowed down their ground attack and ruined the rhythm of their play-action passing. Ugoh is raw in some areas, but he brings a wealth of athleticism to an aging line and the potential of becoming a future standout at left tackle.
24. New England Patriots – Jay Moore, defensive end, Nebraska. The Patriots are growing old at the pass-rusher positions, where Moore excelled in the postseason. He is fluid enough to play outside linebacker in New England's 3-4 scheme, and he is a bright, poised kid who can start right away if necessary.
25. New York Jets – Zach Miller, tight end, Arizona State. The Jets looked to fill this spot in last year's draft but missed out on the top prospects. Our mock has the tight end position sliding down the draft board, providing New York with the chance to add a prospect that can be a solid addition in terms of pass-catching skills and blocking ability.
26. Philadelphia Eagles – LaRon Landry, safety, LSU. With safety Michael Lewis set to move via free agency, the Eagles will look to find a replacement. Landry could be the one who gets paired with All-Pro defender Brian Dawkins the next few years.
27. New Orleans Saints – Anthony Spencer, defensive end/outside linebacker, Purdue. The Saints have built a defense around speed and playmakers, but they are likely to lose Charles Grant in free agency. Spencer is a "hybrid" pass rusher who could play an important role off the bench during his rookie campaign.
28. New England Patriots – Daymeion Hughes, cornerback, California. The Patriots like players that have solid character and production, and Hughes fits that profile. He could challenge to start as a rookie if Asante Samuel is lost in free agency.
29. Baltimore Ravens – Justin Blalock, offensive lineman, Texas. The Ravens are looking to find more consistency out of their interior blockers, a quality Blalock could provide short-term. He has the ability to step into the starting lineup if he keeps his weight down and his right knee healthy.
30. San Diego Chargers – Tanard Jackson, defensive back, Syracuse. The Chargers will be on the hot seat going into next season, since most feel they have been the most talented team not to make an impact in the playoffs the past few years. Jackson would give them a versatile defender who could find a starting role at safety as a rookie and help solidify their pass coverage.
31. Chicago Bears – Greg Olsen, tight end, Miami (Fla.). The Bears have a few other holes, but they could use another playmaker on offense. The return of Tommie Harris and Mike Brown will help their defensive unit bounce back to full strength. Moreover, general manager Jerry Angelo seems to like playmakers from the state of Florida.
32. Indianapolis Colts – Jon Beason, linebacker, Miami. The Colts have allowed linebackers to walk during free agency, and that could happen again with Cato June. Beason would be a near-perfect fit for the Super Bowl champs and a great value pick if he slides to No. 32.
- Adrian Peterson