Ten draft day layups
Picks and trades that make enough sense to happen
Posted: Tuesday April 24, 2007 12:42PM; Updated: Tuesday April 24, 2007 9:22PM
It's paralysis by analysis time in trying to discern exactly what's coming in this weekend's NFL Draft. But there are some things that simply make too much sense not to happen. Here are 10 moves that not only could happen, but we think should:
1. The Raiders make JaMarcus Russell their franchise quarterback: As rare a prospect as Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson is, Oakland must confront the following facts: It could have drafted either Matt Leinart or Jay Cutler last year at No. 7, but passed. It could have drafted Aaron Rodgers or Jason Campbell at No. 23 in 2005, but passed. And at No. 2 in 2004, it could have drafted Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger or J.P. Losman, but declined. That's seven first-round quarterbacks in the past three years, while the Raiders have floundered to records of 2-14, 4-12 and 5-11 with quarterbacks Aaron Brooks, Andrew Walter, Marques Tuiasosopo and Kerry Collins.
There are those who say that need shouldn't drive a team's draft philosophy, but in this case it had better. The Raiders need a quarterback who can stop the parade of mediocrity at the game's most important position and Russell appears to be this year's version of Vince Young -- a supremely gifted athlete who could turn out to be ready earlier than anyone is projecting. As special as Johnson is, if the Raiders take him, they must be 100 percent certain they can get a difference-making quarterback atop the second round. And who knows if Stanford's Trent Edwards or Michigan State's Drew Stanton fits that bill?
Don't assume, however, that I'm convinced the Raiders will select Russell. As one league source said this week: "The problem in Oakland is that not even (Raiders personnel executive) Michael Lombardi knows for sure what they're going to do, because it's (owner) Al (Davis) and only Al who makes that pick. Everybody says he has to take Russell, but you don't know what Al will do because he's not throwing fastballs any more.''
2. Jarvis Moss becomes the new Jevon Kearse: Nobody has yet dubbed Moss "The Freak,'' but the Gators defensive end is a tall and athletically gifted pass rusher with top-end speed and the ability to turn the corner and close on a quarterback? Who does that sound like? If you said a young Kearse, circa 1999 when he came to the NFL as a star defensive end out of Florida and helped Tennessee get to the Super Bowl, you're paying attention.
The irony is obvious. Kearse's season-ending knee injury last year in Philadelphia might give the Eagles reason to go shopping in the first round for fresh blood at defensive end. Some think Moss won't last until the Eagles' No. 26 pick, but we do. Like Kearse, he's had trouble staying healthy in his college career, and the Eagles would want to add a little weight to his 6-6, 250-pound frame. But his arrival in Philly could mean trouble of sorts for Kearse.
3. Tennessee drafts Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr. -- Talk about the convergence of need and first-round value. The Titans need a receiving threat after losing both Drew Bennett and Bobby Wade in free agency. They need a threat in the return game after having cornerback Pacman Jones benched for 2007 by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. And they need big-play impact from someone other than Young, who at the moment appears to be their entire offense.
Ginn's mid-foot injury at the start of the BCS title game against Florida could wind up being a fortuitous break for the Titans, if he lingers on the board because of it to Tennessee at No. 19. Ginn only ran for NFL scouts two weeks ago, and while no one presumes he's 100 percent, his world-class speed will return at some point this summer. The thought of him and Young terrorizing opposing defenses together this season is intriguing, and would instantly create the most athletic quarterback-receiving tandem in the league.
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