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2007 Post-Draft Impressions: Part 1
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3


So it’s time for the annual ritual of critiquing the work of a few hundred professional football scouts and personnel staff. I’d ask if you’ve had enough of this circle-jerk of over-analysis otherwise known as NFL Draft Coverage, but of course you haven’t—otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this feature. The best time to analyze a draft is 3-5 years from now, but the fun about fantasy football is trying to predict the future. So instead of trying to give a grade like everyone else (especially when everyone uses the let’s wait 3-5 year caveat and then give no one under a C-, or over a B+), I’ll give you my take on the team’s impact player, project, sleeper, and my two cents on their overall draft.

I view myself more as an observer/analyst of football talent rather than some sort of expert on the machinations of draft day, so don’t expect me to do too much second-guessing of trading picks or how teams understood the draft board. I’ll leave that to talking heads that get 95% of their sound bites on players from behind the scenes people but still feel their qualified to discuss which players have better value.

Nevertheless, here is a quick team-by-team summary of a few players that your team selected in the draft or signed as undrafted free agents. For the most extensive analysis of the skill players your team selected, or players you’re considering for your dynasty drafts, buy The 2007 Rookie Scouting Portfolio. I’ll also profile the offensive skill position rookies in greater detail in my annual rookie impact series beginning in June.

Best Drafts: Buffalo, Arizona,


Impact Player: OT Levi Brown, Penn State

I love this pick and it tells me that new coach Ken Whisenhunt doesn’t over analyze his draft board or position. Edgerrin James has at least three decent years left, barring injury and to say the Cardinals lead back is getting old oversimplifies everything that is wrong with Arizona’s running game. James came from a great offensive unit to a struggling franchise. It doesn’t matter who the Cardinals put in the backfield, he wasn’t going to produce at a pro bowl level. Arizona got the best player not named Joe Thomas to protect Matt Leinart and open holes for James on the edge of the defense. Brown is a terrific fit for a coaching staff that will emphasize a harder-nosed approach to gaining yardage on the ground. Although draftniks like to get cute with where it would have been best to take Brown sometimes you just have to wonder whether you’d rather have Brown or wind up with a player you didn’t really want and another draft pick—that’s the risk. The Cardinals see Brown as that decade-long fixture on their offensive line. Considering half of these first round picks don’t turn out like the analysts project, I think it was a great choice. Look for Arizona to plug Brown into the offense and upgrade the line play immediately. Owners of Cardinal skill players will be thanking Brown by season’s end.

Project: WR Steve Breaston, Michigan

Breaston is small, but he’s a tough football player who is fearless on kick returns. He’ll be projected to boost Arizona’s special team production and I think he’ll at least be serviceable right away in that role. Does he have a shot at the slot position? With Bryant Johnson manning the number three spot on a stacked receiving corps, not this year. But Breaston has the type of skills to make it as a pass catcher in the slot at this level. He’s not as much of a multi-purpose threat as Antwaan Randle El, but one can see parallels between the two and how the new coaching staff will hope to use him one day.

Sleeper: LB Buster Davis, Florida State

Davis is the type of player one could see the Steelers drafting. In fact, it looks like Arizona beat them to the punch 8 picks earlier, which might explain why Pittsburgh selected a TE like Matt Spaeth on the first day. I personally think this is an extremely weak draft class for the tight end position, but back to Davis. This guy is your classic overachiever in your Sam Mills-Zach Thomas mold: “too small,” and “not fast enough” but understands angles, reads plays very well, and is always making the play. The Cardinals got themselves a good player and he’s a rookie sleeper for IDP leagues. I’ll be happy to get him if I can’t get my hands on San Francisco’s Patrick Willis.

Notable Free Agents: FB Tim Castille is a hard-nosed football player that does the little things well. He will probably make the team as a special teams ace and could eventually work his way into the offense as a fullback in a year or two, but it’s not likely.


Impact Player: DE Jamaal Anderson, Arkansas

The Falcons lost Patrick Kearny to free agency and Rod Coleman to injury, leaving them in serious trouble on the defensive line. This was recently a respectable pass rushing team. Anderson will eventually have an impact, but with the loss of these two players, he goes from being a player that would see decent match ups to more of a marked man from the beginning. Look for Anderson to become a productive player, but he could struggle out of the gate. He’s a heck of an athlete that could have a Jason Taylor-like impact in this league one day.

Project: WR Laurent Robinson, Miami (OH) and FB Jason Snelling, Virginia

New coaching staff, same drafting tendency (Rich McKay)—selecting wide receivers not ready to make an NFL impact. Michael Vick needed a receiver like Steve Smith, Jason Hill, or Dwayne Bowe—a physical football player that can accomplish what both Vick’s current starters can only do separately—get deep and catch the ball over the middle. Robinson has skills, but he’s raw and lacks something that I think is inherent in any good football player, the ability to take and deliver punishment.

Snelling on the other hand, is a true football player. He is strictly a straight-line runner, but he can catch the football, run with power, and isn’t a bad blocker. He could develop into a valuable fullback for Petrino’s offense. He’s not the second coming of Rueben Droughns, but he does have some mildly surprising skills with the ball in his hands.

Sleeper: CB Chris Houston, Arkansas

Houston is a savvy college defensive back with the one-on-one skills that could potentially make him a solid, if not spectacular, NFL cover corner. This is an excellent pick for a defense that needs to retool its secondary. Houston and 2nd year corner, Jimmy Williams could develop into a respectable tandem.

Notable Free Agents: RB Justin Vincent, LSU and WR Vincent Marshall, Houston. I liked what I saw out of both players and I believe they have a chance of making this squad. If you put the 5-8, 175-lb, Vincent Marshall in the body of Laurent Robinson, you might have a rookie of the year candidate. Marshall is that skilled of a receiver—he was 2nd round pick, Kevin Kolb’s main man at Houston—but he should make his mark as a return specialist right away. I believe he could become a valued slot receiver in the Falcon’s offense. Don’t be surprised if he makes the squad and finds his way onto the field quicker than expected for a free agent acquisition.

Vincent is a bull of a runner that lost a significant amount of speed after two knee surgeries in his college career. He still has a decent burst, but his durability and loss of downfield speed bottomed out his draft stock. I think the LSU back is one of those players you hope to lump into the Jamal Lewis-Willis McGahee-Frank Gore category of excellent back that needs more time to regain his physical skills after injury. If so, the Falcons stole a back that at least could become an excellent complement to Jerious Norwood. I actually think I’d rather have Vincent than Penn State’s Tony Hunt.


Impact Player: G Ben Grubbs, Auburn

Willis McGahee and Steve McNair will be happy with this selection. Grubbs will help solidify the Ravens line and if Baltimore can give McNair more time in the pocket, this offense has the skill players to score 20 points a game without a problem. It’s picks like these that can (Grubbs or even Levi Brown in Arizona) that can turn a pedestrian offense into a balance, high-powered attack.

Project: WR Yamon Figures, Kansas St.

I hate these kinds of picks: fast receivers that can’t catch. You can go to every college tryout camp and find big, fast players that can’t catch. Why draft one in round two? Yes, I know his speed is extraordinary, but when you can adequately cover a receiver by yelling just before the ball comes near his hands (yes, I’m exaggerating—sort of), it doesn’t matter how far behind the defense he gets. If this kid can catch punts and kick offs, he might earn his draft status. This just seems like a luxury pick when if I were Baltimore I’d want more RB or OL depth.

Sleeper: QB Troy Smith, Ohio State

I honestly can’t believe I’m calling the Heisman Trophy winner a sleeper. Smith is a much better player than his reputation. In my opinion, Brady Quinn deserved to drop but Troy Smith is the guy that really got the raw deal. Smith has a great arm, sees the field well and throws the ball with better accuracy in the big game than Quinn. Everyone keeps talking about the Florida game, but Smith looked good against Michigan and Texas—both times and stomped Notre Dame in a bowl game.

Height and character concerns dropped Smith, but Quinn was the “media golden boy” of this draft anyhow. They’re already trying to mythologize Quinn’s drat day story. Honestly, I think it’s ridiculous. Smith will get a chance to learn behind Steve McNair and just like Drew Brees—a player many said was too small and lacked the arm strength to be a good starter—the Ohio State starter has the skills to be a good NFL starting quarterback. I’ll gladly take this kid in my rookie drafts in the mid rounds if I miss out on my first 3-4 choices at QB. Call me crazy, but I raved about Brees, too…

Notable Free Agents: Other than the fact Ozzie Newsome signed his former Browns teammate’s son, Gregg Pruitt. If Pruitt has anything remotely resembling his dad’s skill set, he could surprise.


Impact Player: RB Marshawn Lynch, Cal

Adrian Peterson may be the best talent at RB, but Lynch is the best all around player at the position in this class. Does this surprise you? It surprised me when I evaluated the two players, but I stand behind it. Lynch is a much more disciplined runner with a better ball control and receiving techniques, but he’s a tough as nails football player that produced against good defenses despite playing with an assortment of under-publicized injuries. The Packers were projected to get this back and I have to tell you they really missed out on a player that could have made Green Bay a playoff quality offense from week one. This is one of the best offensive players in the draft that no one really talks about in these terms—but they will by the end of 2007.

Project: FB/TE Derek Schouman, Boise State

Schouman has that Frank Wycheck-Chris Cooley quality to his game. He’s a player that I think veteran coaches like Marv Levy and Joe Gibbs just understand how to spot. Fantasy owners should pay attention to Schouman if he winds up at the H-Back or TE position where his impact could be beneficial to your team.

Sleeper: QB Trent Edwards, Stanford

Before other draft analysis sites changed up their rankings to reflect the last-minute info they mimicked from draft insiders, I had Trent Edwards as my 2nd-ranked rookie QB prospect. The Stanford QB has arm strength, accuracy, and pocket presence but the fact he demonstrated these skills on an offense that did a horrible job protecting him is even more impressive. As I mentioned in this NFL Draft Guys Podcast, Edwards took more punishment while maintaining the poise to make plays than any quarterback I have seen on film. The 2007 Rookie Scouting Portfolio has a complete breakdown of Edwards’ game for more details.

I firmly believe Edwards will become an NFL starter. Although Dick Jauron said Losman was Buffalo’s unquestioned starting QB, the fact he had to utter this phrase every time he talked about Edwards at the press conference already sets the tone that Buffalo got an excellent prospect. Losman had a nice 3rd year, but he hasn’t set the world on fire just yet. If he regresses in the next year or two, Edwards will be hot on his heels. In fact, I think this is a subtle bit of pressure for Losman to keep working hard. If your dynasty team is mainly looking at luxury picks in a rookie draft, Edwards is the QB you need to take.

Notable Free Agents: CB Reggie Lewis, Florida. He’s a raw prospect at corner that could develop if he shows anything in camp.


Impact Player: WR Dwayne Jarrett, USC

If you’re going to cut a 70-reception receiver in Keyshawn Johnson to make room for Jarrett, then you can already see the rookie has made an impact. Whether or not this move is positive or negative remains to be seen. Honestly, I’d rather have Keyshawn right now than the untested bunch of players opposite superstar Steve Smith but I think Jarrett has the skills to grow into the possession receiver role with time. Personally, I think Jarrett is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get player: big, good hands, and can out-muscle secondary coverage. He should develop into good redzone receiver. With Johnson sent packing the urgency will be greater to show his stuff this year…

Project: LB Tim Shaw, Penn State

He flashes talents, but needs more seasoning and hasn’t stuck at just one position during his college career. Carolina has a good eye for linebacker talent under John Fox. You won’t be adding him to your IDP roster, but keep an eye on this kid if you hear he progresses.

Sleeper: DE Charles Johnson, Georgia

Heading into the 2007 NCAA season, Quentin Moses was the UGA defensive end of choice but the real deal was Johnson. As Quentin Moses’ stock dropped from a top 10 pick, Johnson’s steadily rose. Both were picked in the same round, but I think Carolina got the better player in terms of effort. I wouldn’t be surprised if Johnson sees the field early. If paired opposite of Julius Peppers, Johnson could at least become a steady player.


Impact Player: TE Greg Olson, Miami

There are only 3-4 tight ends in this class that I feel even have a chance to make a team, and two with the skills to contribute as fantasy starter. Olson is the best of this group and the Bears made an excellent decision to grab this under-utilized Hurricane receiver. Olson has good speed and excellent hands. His physical talents aren’t on par with Kellen Winslow II, but he does possess skills similar to Dallas Clark. If Clark where in a different offense, he could easily be a top five fantasy TE. I think Olson arrives in a situation where he could get that chance. I’d draft Olson late in a regular fantasy draft with a deep roster as my #2 TE and see what happens.

Project: QB Chris Leak, Florida

The undrafted free agent has excellent skills as a short to intermediate range passer. He throws one of the prettiest balls you’ve seen in the last four seasons of college football and he possesses adequate mobility. Leak is a system quarterback—a player that could be the right match for team’s offensive system and play a productive role as its starter at some point. Leak lost a lot momentum with his draft stock when Urban Meyer took over as head coach and installed an offense not conducive to Leak’s strengths as a pro system passer. I’m not optimistic Leak will have a career as a starter, but he’s capable of developing into a pro that puts together a season or two on the level of Jeff Blake in his heyday as the Bengals starter in the 90’s.

Sleeper: RB Garrett Wolfe, Northern Illinois

Pound-for-pound he is the best runner in this draft (you’re going to hear me say this a lot this summer), but he may not have enough of the poundage to be an NFL impact player. Still, I’m going to enjoy watching Wolfe try. I saw two runners during my film study for the 2006 Rookie Scouting Portfolio that might have the skills to be a Warrick Dunn-type of runner. One was Maurice Jones Drew, who made an excellent case for rookie of the year and the other was Wolfe. The fact Chicago drafted him in the third round and already envisions him as their potential #2 RB states volumes. I’m not as optimistic, but you can bet I’ll take a chance on this guy in the mid-rounds of a dynasty draft while other owners are picking linebackers and safeties I can grab off the waiver wire in mid-season.

Notable Free Agents: WR David Ball. This receiver has sick hands and excellent leaping ability. He’s a player similar to practice squad acquisition Mike Hass, a receiver I was very high on last year but got overshadowed by Marques Colston in New Orleans. I still believe Hass will become a solid NFL receiver in a year or two. I have limited exposure to Ball’s game, but I liked what I saw. I wouldn’t draft Ball, but I’d keep tabs on the guy and at least be familiar with his name.


Impact Player: RB Kenny Irons, Auburn

Chris Perry was supposed to be the future to Rudi Johnson, but injuries have sidetracked the Michigan alum’s career. There’s still a chance Perry could have an impact, but the Bengals brass clearly selected Irons as the depth they lacked every time Perry went down. What Cincinnati gets is a quick, tough runner, with a very good burst. He’s not big, but much like Cadillac Williams, he showed he could carry the load against big, athletic and hard-hitting defenses in the SEC. If Rudi Johnson gets hurt, Irons is capable of becoming a steady producer. He’s not as dynamic as Clinton Portis, but he reminds me a bit of the Redskins’ star and I think he’ll see the field as a rookie as a change of pace option.

Project: S Nedu Ndukwe, Notre Dame

Marvin Lewis knows his defensive players, especially in the secondary. I think Nduwe has the athleticism and football mentality (he’s a hitter) to become a decent defensive back with good coaching. He should catch on as a special teams guy.

Sleeper: QB Jeff Rowe, Nevada

Rowe showed me some really good tools during his bowl game versus a highly regarded, University of Miami defense (remember it was the offense that was the problem with this storied program): mobility, accuracy, arm strength, and pocket presence. The Bengals need a quality back up to Carson Palmer and Rowe has the talent and skills to develop into a starter somewhere. This is an excellent pick and I think he’s a player worth remembering 4-5 years from now, ala Matt Schaub.

Notable Free Agents: TE Daniel Coats, BYU. He’s a former receiver that is a good blocker and effort player. He lacks the top-shelf physical skills to be strongly considered as a prospect, but guys like this surprise with enough frequency to at least mention.


Impact Player: OT Joe Thomas, Wisconsin

This may have been the best pick in the first round for any team. When a guy is compared to Tony Boselli as the most NFL-ready left tackle to come into the league in over a decade, the argument is over. Cleveland has the skill player base to be pretty good on offense. What they need is a good offensive line. This was a definite start. Brady Quinn will be the marquee impact player, but he’s not going to make or break the Browns season as much as Thomas.

Project: QB Brady Quinn, Notre Dame

Sorry Browns’ fans, but I know you guys. I grew up in your town and was one myself. I know you get too excited about hometown guys, especially big-name college players that make it known they want to play for your team. You’re going to have to calm down a bit. Charlie Weiss’ comments notwithstanding, I think Quinn will need a lot of seasoning to play to the level of expectation heaped upon him. Yes, he’s big, strong, and athletic. Yes, he has the requisite arm and played under an NFL coach in an NFL system. Yes, he’s played on the big stage. But no, he hasn’t made the kind of plays that one would link to a clutch QB.

Sorry, but I was more impressed with the players he threw the ball to and made things happen—Jeff Samardzija for instance—than the actual quality of his passes. I think he’ll turn into a solid player, but not one worth getting back into the first round to take. Especially when I like Edwards, Beck, and Smith more. Quinn’s accuracy and decision-making is a bit more suspect that many lead you to believe.

Sleeper: CB Eric Wright, Fresno State

One of the toughest positions to evaluate is corner. Wright has great raw skills and shows talent for the position in terms of technique. He just had enough lapses against big-name competition to receive the inconsistent tag. Plus he has a sketchy background that took him from USC to Fresno State early in his career. If Wright’s head is on straight and he works, he could be a shutdown corner in a few years.

Notable Free Agents: RB Tyrone Moss, Miami. In terms of running skill, he’s better than Pittman, Hunt, or possibly Dwayne Wright but an ACL injury cost him a lot of his speed and burst. If he regains enough of this quickness by summer, he could make the roster and develop into a player I would love to have as depth on my fantasy roster. It may never happen, but pay attention to his progress in camp.


Impact Player: DE Anthony Spencer, Purdue

Spencer is a workout warrior projected to be the bookend opposite DeMarcus Ware. The rookie from Purdue will have a strong chance of earning his fair share of sacks if he cracks the starting lineup. Make it a point to consider Spencer in the mid-rounds of your dynasty draft.

Project: QB/WR Isaiah Stanback, Washington

Stanback is a physical talent that needs a lot of work to become an NFL passer. It’s quite possible he can make it happen, but his development as a QB remains at its earlier stages. This is a luxury pick for the Cowboys and not a player fantasy owners will likely need to consider for at least a couple of years.

Sleeper: QB Matt Moore, Oregon State

I believe Moore is a better prospect at QB than Stanback. In fact, I think Moore has the ability to be a starter in the NFL. I was most impressed with Moore’s pocket presence, which to me has the important to his position equivalent to a running back’s vision. I wouldn’t be surprised if Moore becomes the #3 QB in Dallas and ascends to a backup role in 2-3 years. I would stash Moore away on a deep dynasty roster or at least keep close tabs on his progress. I was surprised Moore wasn’t selected over the 4-5 small school prospects that went in the late rounds.

Notable Free Agents: RB Jackie Battle, Houston. Battle has size and speed. He could possibly be a ‘tweener at the RB position. WR Jerard Rabb, Boise State. He could develop into a solid possession receiver.


Impact Player: DE Jarvis Moss, Florida

It was a small crop of draft picks for the Broncos, but Moss could become an impact player within a couple of years. He has a very quick first step and flashed dominant, playmaking ability as a pass rusher. The Broncos have a good enough defense that Moss could become a situational edge rusher to begin the season.

Project: DE Tim Crowder, Texas

Crowder is an all-around decent college player that should make the team, but he lacks the elite skills to be more than a player rotating on the defensive line.

Sleeper: RB Selvyn Young, Texas

Young possesses good vision, quickness, and receiving skills. Despite an injury history and fumbling problems, I thought Young would get drafted at the very least on the second day. He was a good enough back to split time with phenom Jamal Charles—a back that I believe will become a first day pick within a couple of years. Young faces a depth chart that includes Travis Henry and Mike Bell but remember Bell was also in Young’s position last year. Additionally, Denver cut Cedric Cobbs last week while signing Young to a free agent contract. Cobbs was actually a viable candidate in the Broncos’ three-way race for the starting job in 2006.


Impact Player: WR Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech

Is this a no-brainer—Johnson is the most talented player in this draft. He plays in an offense suited to his talents and he’s starring opposite a player with pro bowl ability in Roy Williams. He’s the odds-on favorite for rookie of the year if he stays healthy because he blocks with tenacity, has the power to break tackles after the catch, and the acrobatic ability and hands to make catches few receivers in the pros can even make as consistently as he.

Project: QB Drew Stanton, Michigan State

Physically, Stanton has all the tools to be a top-flight signal caller. But he’s a reckless player that takes too many hits when he breaks the pocket and displays impatience both in the pocket and with his progressions. Stanton will need a lot of work and structure to capitalize on his potential. If he passes the Mike Martz development program, look out. But it could be 2-3 year struggle.

Sleeper: DE Alama-Franis Ikaika, Hawaii

A raw prospect, but his athleticism coupled with Rod Marinelli should translate into a fast-developing player. Detroit has an improving defense and Ikaika’s strength and speed off the edge could reap dividends for fantasy owners by 2008.

Notable Free Agents: QB Phil Horvath, Northern Illinois. Horvath has the pocket presence and arm strength to develop into a back up.

Part 2...