When the clock strikes 12 (noon) in 10 days, we will find out if Calvin Johnson becomes the first receiver since another well-known Johnson, Keyshawn, to be taken No. 1 overall during the NFL draft. Or will JaMarcus Russell or Brady Quinn become the latest in a long line of quarterbacks to go first?
Here's the latest mock draft, which also includes second-round projections.
1. Oakland Raiders – LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell. The Raiders will hear plenty of trade proposals in the next 10 days, but they are putting on a strong game face by letting observers believe they are committed to Russell. Any potential deal likely would not occur until teams are on the clock.
2. Detroit Lions – Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams. After adding another possible solution for their hole at offensive tackle, it now seems like they are headed in the direction of taking the top-rated defensive player on their board at this spot. There has also been some speculation that the Lions would love to deal down, but that would only be the case if Calvin Johnson is still on the board. Either way, expect the Lions to land Adams with their choice at No. 2 or at No. 4 after a trade with the Bucs.
3. Cleveland Browns – Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn. The Browns could be sitting pretty if the draft plays out differently than my first two picks suggest or if the Raiders and Bucs make a deal. If you are looking for where the draft could swing for the first time, it would come with the Browns' choice of picking either a possible franchise quarterback or running back.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson. The Bucs have done a great job of identifying a large number of scenarios for themselves, but may have to decide exactly how much they are willing to give up to obtain the rights to Johnson. FYI, picks Nos. 4, 35, 65 and 68 – the four choices the Bucs own on day one – still do not equal the No. 1 overall choice if you use most versions of the trade value chart.
5. Arizona Cardinals – Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas. Several teams are likely to try dealing up for this pick based on who comes off the board in the top three choices. Unless the Cardinals make a deal to go way down the draft board, there is still a chance they could land a front seven playmaker several choices later. As a result, this could be a spot where either Denver or Chicago could eye moving up to land themselves a starting left tackle for the next 10 years.
6. Washington Redskins – LSU safety LaRon Landry. The addition of Landry would give them an instant playmaker in the middle of the field to pair with All-Pro safety Sean Taylor. A pair of options would be for them to go after either defensive tackle Amobi Okoye or defensive lineman Jamaal Anderson, who would both help improve a front four that struggled to provide a pass rush last season.
7. Minnesota Vikings – Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson. Given their struggles to score last season, adding such an offensive force makes sense … even if tailback Chester Taylor ran for 1,216 yards in 2006.
8. Atlanta Falcons – Penn State offensive tackle Levi Brown. The Falcons have admitted that they are not sure of their alignment on the offensive line for the upcoming season. Since they have a pair of second-round choices, they could pass on Brown to select the best available defensive player on their board and then try to deal back up into the mid-to-late portion of the first round for Central Michigan offensive tackle Joe Staley.
9. Miami Dolphins – Arkansas defensive lineman Jamaal Anderson. The Dolphins have a number of needs, but Anderson would give them a young lineman that could help protect the team's aging defenders like Jason Taylor, Joey Porter and Zach Thomas. They could also attempt to trade up if one of the quarterbacks or top offensive tackles slides.
10. Houston Texans – Louisville defensive tackle Amobi Okoye. Adding an interior defender like Okoye alongside last year's No. 1 choice, Mario Williams, and middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans would give them the nucleus of a defensive unit necessary to stop teams like the Colts. Their other options would be cornerback and offensive line.
11. San Francisco 49ers – Nebraska defensive lineman Adam Carriker. The 49ers need a front-line playmaker in order to make the full-time switch to a 3-4 scheme and Carriker provides them with the best model for playing end in that scheme. They're also in need of linebackers for the 3-4, but they can find suitable fits later in the draft.
13. St. Louis Rams – Pittsburgh cornerback Darrelle Revis. Revis, who can also contribute as a return specialist, has good size (6-foot, 200 pounds), which gives him the edge on others that could be considered here.
14. Carolina Panthers – Miami (Fla.) tight end Greg Olsen. Olsen is pass-catching threat in the middle of the field who can also pull defenders to him, opening things up more for receiver Steve Smith and creating better running lanes for DeAngelo Williams.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Michigan cornerback Leon Hall. The Steelers, who are likely to have a heavy defensive draft, could wait for a defensive back until later on the first day and opt for an outside linebacker. Lawrence Timmons would be a good fit as they make the move towards a 4-3 scheme over the next few years.
16. Green Bay Packers – Tennessee wide receiver Robert Meachem. The obvious option for the Packers would be, in an average class of running backs, to select Marshawn Lynch. However, they have seemed to cool a little on him and could find a much better combination of choices by adding another vertical threat here at No. 16 and come back with a running back in the second or third round.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars – Florida defensive back Reggie Nelson. They could target a pass rusher here, but there is a solid group projected to be available mid-second round. The likely pick here is Nelson, who they've eye-balled since his pro day.
18. Cincinnati Bengals – Michigan defensive lineman Alan Branch. Would the Bengals take a chance on a guy that might have just a so-so motor? Ultimately, they need to find two front-seven defensive playmakers, another cornerback and a reserve wide receiver, so Branch is a strong possibility.
19. Tennessee Titans – California running back Marshawn Lynch. The Titans have said all the right things about their backfield situation. However, if they are without a veteran back before the draft, then adding Lynch to share time with LenDale White could give the Titans enough backfield fire power to aid in the progress of second-year signal caller Vince Young. Both wide receiver and cornerback will be considered at this spot, as well.
20. NY Giants – Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny. The Giants are taking a full evaluation of potential replacements or additions to their wide receiver corps, but it still stands to reason that the linebacker position is the greatest single area of concern. "Big Blue" would find a perfect complement to their defensive front seven by adding the type of intangibles that Posluszny brings to the field. The Giants have kept close tabs on both Ted Ginn Jr. and Dwayne Jarrett in recent weeks.
21. Denver Broncos – Central Michigan offensive tackle Joe Staley. The Broncos will continue to try dealing up the draft, especially if tackle Thomas slides down past the first few teams. If not, they can find themselves in good fortune by finding the ultra-athletic Staley still on the board. He may need a year of development, but he has all the tools to become a standout left tackle during his career.
22. Dallas Cowboys – Ohio State wide receiver/return man Ted Ginn Jr. The Cowboys have secured most of their positions of need through free agency, which opens the door for either a deal down or for them taking a gamble on a player like Ginn or even Marshawn Lynch. Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn are getting up in age, and for Jerry Jones to find a playmaker like this still on the board, it could provide them the type of all-around playmaker their offense has not seen since the days of Calvin Hill.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Tennessee defensive tackle Justin Harrell. Head coach Herm Edwards has stated several times that he believes their receiving corps has much better depth than outsiders currently think. If that is indeed the case, the next biggest area of concern is finding an interior defender that can actually make plays. Harrell has returned to his former first-round status thanks to proving he is 100 percent healthy (31 bench reps of 225 pounds) and teams have grown very fond of his toughness and motor.
24 New England Patriots – Miami (Fla.) linebacker Jon Beason. The addition of Beason, who has the versatility and intangibles that the Patriots desire, offers them a player that can back up at several spots in the short term before taking over as the leader of the linebacker corps. After signing veteran cornerback Tory James, the Patriots can pursue the top players on their board as opposed to simply drafting for need.
25. New York Jets – Arkansas cornerback Chris Houston. The Jets have added a handful of veteran defenders in an attempt to improve their woeful pass rush. Therefore, Houston could be a perfect fit here since he is able to play man coverage, but also has excellent strength and could lock down one side of the field.
27. New Orleans Saints – LSU wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. If they are unable to sign restricted free agent cornerback Jason David, the Saints are likely to attempt to trade up or potentially try packaging picks to make a run at someone like disgruntled Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel. However, adding Bowe to their current stock of offensive weapons could lead them to having the highest-scoring offense in the league in 2007.
28. New England Patriots – Syracuse defensive back Tanard Jackson. The Patriots have a desire to get younger in the back seven, and Jackson is a versatile defender that can back up Rodney Harrison and even fill in at nickel back and special teams. They could also go off the board if a running back like Lynch or Leonard were to fall this far.
29. Baltimore Ravens – Florida State linebacker Lawrence Timmons. The Ravens could go in a number of directions at this choice because they feel they are mainly drafting for depth. They could easily draft back with an eye towards selecting a future successor to quarterback Steve McNair, but the next most pressing issue is getting younger and staying fast/athletic at the linebacker position.
30. San Diego Chargers – Miami (Fla.) safety Brandon Meriweather. Meriweather has answered most of the questions about his character and athletically would provide them with the range/playmaking skills they lacked in Terrence Kiel and others they have tried the past few seasons at this position.
31. Chicago Bears – Arkansas offensive tackle Tony Ugoh. The Bears are unlikely to fully know where or what team All-Pro linebacker Lance Briggs will play for in 2007 before the draft. Meanwhile, Ugoh provides them with a young, athletic tackle that can be brought up slowly behind John Tait, who is 32. Don't forget that fellow starting tackle Fred Miller will be 35 before next season ends.
32. Indianapolis Colts – Ohio State wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez. Gonzalez is a smart, athletic, high-character receiver that would fit perfectly for their No. 3 role now that Brandon Stokley is gone. Gonzalez has moved himself into contention to be taken as high as Dallas' choice at No. 22.
John Murphy's 6th annual NFL Draft Bible is now available. Learn more at www.nfldraftbible.blogspot.com
- Calvin Johnson