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

OAK | PHI | PIT | SD | SEA | SF | STL | TB | TEN | WAS


Impact Player: QB JaMarcus Russell, LSU

The first overall pick in the draft will likely start for the Raiders from day one, but don’t expect Vince Young moments from Russell. His talents are completely different than the Tennessee quarterback. The LSU signal caller uses his legs sporadically and his scrambling is more akin to the more recent, heavier version of Culpepper. While Young had the propensity to break the pocket, Russell is famous for standing in the pocket with 1-2 players hanging on as the QB attempts to complete a pass. While this resulted in big plays at LSU, the Raider’s new quarterback is going to be in for a rough year if he thinks he can pull this trick off on a regular basis in the pros. My money is on Russell believing he can try this in an NFL pocket after maybe one successful result in a game.

Russell has tons of strengths, but his footwork on drops and delivery is really bad. He needs a coach dedicated to this area of his development, because Russell’s accuracy from a traditional drop is too inconsistent for any quarterback. When a quarterback throws more accurately on the run, you know he needs work on fundamentals. Although I saw him make high quality, NFL throws on film, he played in an offense that emphasized the type of routes that allowed his receivers to gain yardage after the catch. The most successful route in this offense was the smash screen to WR Dwayne Bowe and trust me it was Bowe that made this play so great—not Russell. Despite these criticisms, Russell is a great competitor and his arm is a legend come to life. He will become a very good quarterback if he can survive his first few years in Oakland.

Project: DE Quinton Moses, Georgia

Moses seemed like a possible top 10 pick after promising 2005, but this exceptional athlete was outperformed by his bookend teammate Charles Johnson. If opposing offenses were consistently double-teaming Moses, his stock wouldn’t have dropped so much but it was a simple matter of Moses disappearing for stretches throughout the season. This is a player that should become a good pass rusher in short order, but he “should” have been a dominant pass rusher in the NCAA in 2006. Give Moses a season, if he shows signs of promise hang onto him. If he doesn’t, I suggest you adopt a very skeptical perspective on this player that has underachieved at a really inopportune time.

Sleeper: WR Johnnie Lee Higgins, UTEP

Higgins was one of the players I most enjoyed studying on film. That alone doesn’t make him a stud receiver, but he has some really strong qualities. He has good fundamentals catching the football and despite his slight build, he isn’t strictly a vertical threat. Give or take a round, this is where I believe Ted Ginn would have been a strong value. I’d rate Higgins just behind Ginn in the special teams arena, but I think he is a bit better receiver. Ginn is a better runner after the catch, but Higgins has the acceleration to make the big play. The Raiders have Porter, Curry, Mike Williams, and Doug Gabriel competing for a spot on the depth chart, but I believe Higgins will stick with his return skills. If he fulfills his potential as a receiver, I view him as a James Jett-like player that can catch the football—or a poor man’s Isaac Bruce.

Notable Free Agents: LB Kyle Shotwell, Cal Poly. He’s undersized to play ILB in the NFL, but has decent speed. It’s not out of the question for him to be given a try at safety or outside linebacker. He’s a good football player that understands the nature of the game.


Impact Player: QB Kevin Kolb, Houston

Controversy aside as to the fact that Philly selected a QB in the second round there is also disagreement on the value of Kevin Kolb as such a high pick, altogether. I’m in the camp that Kolb has the skills to develop into an NFL starter. When I saw him as a junior, I saw a slightly overweight and plodding pocket passer. He had a good arm but my initial impression was Kolb was likely a system QB that would struggle once away from a wide-open offense and had to cope with the speed of the NFL.

Then I saw Kolb this year and that opinion quickly changed. The University of Houston QB lost weight and was actually very quick and mobile in the pocket. He threw with velocity and accuracy when forced off balance and he demonstrated an ability to improvise against a fast defense. I developed a greater appreciation for Kolb’s talents in the pocket and I believe he warranted such a high pick. There are a few draft analysts that agree with this assessment (although the opinion on Kolb is generally split).

Kolb isn’t likely to see the field this season, but if McNabb experiences any setbacks the rookie could be placed in the lineup. If he performs well enough, is there a chance Philadelphia could consider sticking with him? I don’t think it’s likely, but I do believe stranger things have happened in the NFL. More likely, Kolb will get a more serious look in 2-3 years and his value will dramatically increase among teams interested in acquiring a potential starter both in the NFL and fantasy leagues.

Project: RB Nate Iloa, Hawaii

This short but broad tailback began his college career as a slot receiver for Virginia Tech. Iloa is a powerful runner with a decent burst of speed and catches the football very well out of the backfield. But the Hawaii RB/FB prospect has to learn a pro style offense, refine his blocking, and after all that, might not be fast enough to warrant serious consideration as a even a depth chart player. I liked what I saw out of Iloa and I think he could be an interesting FB in Philly’s offense because of his ball skills. We’ll see if he makes the team.

Sleeper: RB Tony Hunt, Penn State

I’m not a fan of Hunt, but he does have the size and fundamentals to make an impact as a situational back. I don’t think he’s the yards after contact runner many label him. What I saw on film was a back that didn’t gain much yardage after contact. At best, he’ll get an opportunity to be the short yardage back for Philly so the coaching staff can put Brian Westbrook in the slot. This could make Hunt a viable, bye week back if the Eagles offense clicks on all cylinders and becomes a team that frequents the redzone.

Notable Free Agents: Alabama DT Jeremy Clark has good physical skills, but either needs better coaching or stronger work ethic. If it’s the former, he could make the team and be a solid contributor along the defensive front. If it’s the later, he’ll be going from camp to camp for a year or two, at best.


Impact Player: OLB Lawrence Timmons, FSU

Timmons is a fast, aggressive OLB that fits the Steeler’s system. It’s a perfect fit. Plug the guy in and watch him go if he starts. Pittsburgh is very good at reloading at this position from year to year.

Project: CB William Gay, Louisville

Gay is a quality football player that understands how to play his position, but lacks the physical skills to be considered a surefire prospect. He’s a player that might fit into the Steeler’s zone blitz defensive scheme. One of the best things about Gay’s game are his ability to adjust to the ball in the air and make interceptions and his tackling—not bad skills for any football player. He just might not have the size, speed, or athleticism to compete.

Sleeper: WR Dallas Baker, Florida

To be blunt, it sounds like the guy has been a goofball off the field. Couple this with the fact the big guy isn’t all that fast and you get a 7th round pick with enough talent to surprise if he can mature. Pittsburgh could really use a receiver that has an advantage against corners on fades and redzone passes. I could see Baker becoming that Ernest Wilford type of player for Roethlisberger.

Notable Free Agents: RB Gary Russell, Minnesota. I think Russell was one of the better natural power backs in college football when he was actually on the field. He gained weight and lost speed due to the fact he wasn’t playing organized football in 2006. It’s the same thing that plagued Mike Williams and Maurice Clarett when they had a year away from the structure of team atmosphere. Clarett’s mind was far from right to regain the direction his talent could have taken him. Williams is getting a second chance in Oakland, but it remains to be seen if he’ll make the most of the opportunity. Russell wasn’t a huge name prior to losing his eligibility, but he finds himself in the same situation. Kevan Barlow was just signed as a potential compliment to Willie Parker. So put Russell behind Davenport, Barlow, and Verron Haynes in the pecking order, but remember the first two guys on this list blew their chances to become stars in this league and Haynes is a bit of an overachiever.

San Diego

Impact Player: S Eric Weddle, Utah

Finally the Chargers pick a player for their secondary that understands how to play the game and isn’t some prospect high on athleticism but lacking in the skills between the ears to develop into a valued contributor. Weddle will be one of those “in the right place at the right time” players and I think he’ll excel in the NFL. If you don’t get Landry, Nelson, or Meriweather you’ll still be happy with Weddle if you’re draft rookies for your fantasy squad.

Project: WR Craig Davis, LSU

Sorry, but I don’t get this pick. I like Davis’ speed and ability after the catch. He’s a pretty good return specialist, too. But he’s another one of those receivers that does not catch the ball extremely well with his hands and definitely has issues catching the ball in traffic. Pencil in Steve Smith or Jason Hill as the Chargers draft pick and I’m ecstatic—if you haven’t gotten the hint that you should seriously consider these two receivers over Meachem, Rice, and Davis then you need to work on your reading comprehension. I think Davis could become a decent secondary option, but it’s hard to teach a player to be willing to take a hit and catch the football.

Sleeper: TE Scott Chandler, Iowa

I considered ILB Brandon Siler as this pick because he was drafted so late, but Chandler is a very good receiver with nice body control for a tight end. Siler is a good sleeper pick up, so definitely consider him, but back to Chandler. I can see San Diego using two-tight end sets and splitting Gates wide. While I don’t believe Chandler will ever become a viable, every week fantasy starter with Gates in San Diego, I think he’s capable of solid production off your waiver wire.

Notable Free Agents: RB Germaine Race, Pittsburgh State; WR Jarrett Hicks, Texas Tech; and WR Sonny Shackelford, Washington. The first two established names for themselves with great productivity at their respective schools, but both have petty big physical-fundamental deficiencies in their games that I just don’t believe they’ll overcome at the pro level. That leaves Shackelford, an intriguing receiver that made big plays despite working with an exciting but extremely erratic QB in Isaiah Stanbeck. I like Shackelford’s sneaky athleticism and ball skills. San Diego’s receivers are frankly a raw, weak bunch overall and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the UW receiver at least make the practice squad with a shot of developing down the line.


Impact Player: CB Josh Wilson, Maryland

Anyone remember Tim Wilson, the Oiler’s fullback that blocked for Earl Campell. This kid is his son and like his dad, he’s a very good football player. Wilson isn’t big, but he’s extremely fast. But unlike these track athletes running scared in pads, Wilson is a true player. Seattle found themselves a corner of the future for their squad.

Project: WR Jordan Kent, Oregon

Tall, rangy, and fast, Kent is new to the game. He’s a “regional” product that the Seahawks hope will learn the receiver position and use his great athleticism to become an excellent pro. Personally, I’m skeptical but it never hurts to remember the name and see if he can do it.

Sleeper: WR Courtney Taylor, Auburn

In contrast to Kent is Taylor. He’s not as fast as the ideal receiving prospect, but he can catch the football in traffic and he’s faced some tough defenses in his day. Injury concerns and that lack of speed dropped his stock, but if you want a second day bargain in the Jarrett mold, Taylor could be this guy. The Seahawks aren’t exactly strong at receiver. Engram is solid. Branch is a slight bit above solid. And Burleson has the skills to be solid. Add Taylor to that group and he fits right in—maybe that tells you something about Seattle as a team…

San Francisco

Impact Player: LB Patrick Willis, Ole Miss

Here’s the early favorite for defensive rookie of the year. Willis has a great nose for the ball, shoots gaps extremely well, and is excellent in pursuit. I’d put him up there with Jonathan Vilma when the UM alum initially came to the NFL and played in the 4-3. Willis should anchor the Niners defense for at least 5-6 years in this free agency-laden era. If he excels, he could become a lifer in San Fran.

Project: CB Tarrell Brown, Texas

Brown has skills, but was stuck behind some pretty good DBs at Texas and didn’t have the best environment as a child, to say the least. I should mention at this point I love the Niners draft and Brown is a big reason why. Willis and Brown are two first-round quality players from a skill set standpoint. Brown may take a little longer to develop, but I think he’ll make an impact sooner than later.

Sleeper: WR Jason Hill, Washington State

If there were one receiver I would take in this draft other than Calvin Johnson, Hill is the one. I already profiled Hill extensively for FFToday readers and I think he’ll be better than Arnaz Battle by the end of the season. In fact, I think he’ll be better than Darrell Jackson by the end of 2008. This receiver reminds me of a more physical Isaac Bruce. He slipped in draft because they said he underachieved during his senior season. I have a couple of points to make about this apparent slippage: the kid plays hurt and WSU didn’t have a tailback with the same skills as Jerome Harrison and this allowed teams to focus more on Hill. I think Hill is a first round talent and the fourth, first round talent the Niners picked in this draft.

Notable Free Agents: QB Luke Getsy, Akron. I really liked Getsy and labeled him as an underrated project with potential. He’s already impressed in mini-camp and despite the fact its just mini-camp it’s a good sign for an un-drafted free agent. Getsy has excellent pocket presence, good accuracy, and a decent enough arm to make this squad as the #3 QB. I actually believe Getsy will be a very good backup in this league that can produce solid fantasy numbers when in the game. He’s not worth picking in any draft, but he is a name to remember.

St. Louis

Impact Player: FB/RB Brian Leonard, Rutgers

Steven Jackson isn’t planning on relinquishing the Rams starting tailback job anytime soon, but Leonard is a football player with great skills. He will immediately get the opportunity to spell the Rams starter since Stephen Davis has already said he’s good for 10 carries a game, at best. Leonard is a terrific receiver and power runner, with eye-popping agility for his size. There were few players that scored higher on the 2007 Rookie Scouting Portfolio’s RB Checklist and I’m convinced Leonard will be used in some fashion to make an impact. Remember, power runners often come and go quickly. Jackson is entering his fourth season and while expected to be a fantasy stud this year, the wheels can fall off quickly. I’d take Leonard where you can get him in most rookie drafts—round two or three—and be happy I did…

Project: CB Jonathan Wade, Tennessee

Wade was a track star that is just getting the hang of college football. He has the physical tools an NFL team seeks from a quality cornerback, but he needs more coaching and development. If he acquires the techniques, he could become a valuable player.

Sleeper: DE Adam Carriker, Nebraska

Not a lot of defensive ends make a huge rookie impact, but Carriker is a smart player that has skills to make his mark early as a DE or DT. He’s very strong and in his case, strength and technique should make up for his relative lack of speed.

Notable Free Agents: WR Nate Morton, Wake Forest; RB Ryan Hubbard, Nevada. I really like these two players. Morton reminds me of Ed McCaffrey—tall, athletic, and tough. He catches the football well, too. Name a receiver after Bruce and Holt on the St. Louis depth chart that you have confidence in their play? Kevin Curtis, nope he’s gone. Drew Bennett? Sure, but they still need a #4 WR and Bennett seems to have injury issues too frequently to feel confident about him. Shaun McDonald? Please…Morton really has a shot to stick. Ryan Hubbard is a good receiver out of the backfield and a smooth, agile runner that has good balance. He’s one of those players that the Rams could plug into the offense out of desperation and he’ll play well. I can completely see commentators on Sundays invoking the “where did he come from” routine if this ever happens. The answer folks is Nevada.

Tampa Bay

Impact Player: G Aaron Sears, Tennessee

Sears is an excellent guard and the Bucs need a lot of help on their line. If he and the rest of the new additions to his line in the past two years gel, look for Cadillac, Clayton, and Garcia/Simms/Gradkowski to excel. I think it’s going to happen. I see Tampa taking a step forward and Atlanta and possibly Carolina take a step back this year.

Project: OLB Quincy Black, New Mexico

I think the Bucs hope they picked a diamond in the rough that Derrick Brooks could tutor into a becoming a solid replacement. Black is an explosive athlete that needs a lot of work on technique. Keep tabs in Black, but don’t pick him unless you begin to hear someone other than Jon Gruden ranting and raving about the kid.

Sleeper: RB Ken Darby, Alabama

Darby was on the cover or college football previews at this time last year. Now he’s a back that nearly didn’t get drafted. So what’s the deal? Injuries, and underachieving Tide offense, and the death of Darby’s father were all factors. I really like Darby as a runner. He has a wiggle, good vision, and gains yardage after contact. He was not nearly as productive as he was as a sophomore and junior, but I think last year was an aberration if he can get his mind right on football. I think he will and I think he’ll make Michael Pittman expendable within the next year. He’s good enough to team with Cadillac ala Dominic Rhodes to Caddy’s Joseph Addai…

Notable Free Agents: QB Zac Taylor, Nebraska. To make it simple, Taylor has west coast offense experience for Gruden’s former offensive coordinator. I don’t think he’ll make the team, but he could wind up on the practice squad.


Impact Player: S Michael Griffin, Texas

Jeff Fisher was a safety at USC and then for the Bears. I think the coach knows a good safety when he sees one. If he’s going to select this guy in the first round, you better believe he’s going to be expected to see the field early and make an impact. He may not be as exciting as Landry, Nelson, Meriweather, or even Weddle but he’ll produce—especially in a division where they face Indy twice a year—good news for fantasy owners.

Project: WR Chris Davis, FSU

Davis can run after the catch and flashes some good skills as a receiver. He needs work on his routes and he’s not a real big guy. The problem I have with Tennessee’s penchant for receivers in the past 10 years is the pick guys that at best could be the next Derrick Mason or at worst Kevin Dyson. Drew Bennett came close to breaking that mode, but now he’s in St. Louis. We’ll see if Davis can aspire to Mason-hood.

Sleeper: WR Paul Williams, Fresno State

Now this is a receiver that might break the mold that Titans have so often used to pick a pass catcher. Williams is a tall, speedy receiver with good hands. He’s made some big-time, athletic plays and has already shown something in post draft, camps. He’s a quality receiver that didn’t play with very good quarterbacks at Fresno. I like this kid to be one of the surprise receivers in this draft. He should have a good opportunity to show it, especially with David Givens likely out for another year.

Notable Free Agents: RB Danny Ware, Georgia.

I know a person on the UGA staff that works extensively with the players. He said that from strictly a physical standpoint, Ware should have been the best back on the Bulldogs team—that includes Kregg Lumpkin, a player that was rated as high as Reggie Bush coming out of school, and should have a chance to raise his draft stock next year—but Ware doesn’t run with patience or maintain a good pad level. He’s also earned the reputation as a player that doesn’t make the most of his natural skills and could work harder. Apparently he went to a training facility last off-season, but returned in bad shape because he wasn’t pushed. This will likely be the end of Ware’s pro football dreams, but he does have the natural talent to prolong the chase.


Impact Player: S LaRon Landry, Washington

This could be one of the safest picks in the draft. He and Sean Taylor will combine form the most the intimidating secondary in the NFC. Tackles, sacks, and forced fumbles will be calling cards for this kid as a fantasy player.

Project: QB Jordan Palmer, UTEP

Carson’s younger brother comes from the strong-armed, lead-footed, Drew Bledsoe/Dan Fouts line of quarterbacks. But Palmer lacks the pocket skills of these two fine pros and he’s a pretty raw player. Coach Gibbs has had some success with developing quarterbacks on the past, but I think Palmer’s upside is that of a solid back up.

Sleeper: LB H.B. Blades, Pittsburgh

Blades has nothing you look for at the combine, but everything you look for in a football player—instincts, hitting, good reads, and toughness. Think Sam Mills or Zach Thomas and you could be right with Blades.

Notable Free Agents: QB Sam Hollenbach, Maryland. I think Hollenback might have as much potential as Palmer and a cheaper price.