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Third annual Ultimate Mock Draft

Players who would be taken if everyone was available

Posted: Thursday April 12, 2007 1:16PM; Updated: Thursday April 12, 2007 4:39PM
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Though we lived in virtually the same neighborhood for more than a decade, Al Davis and I aren't what you'd call homies. The public sparring, that uncomplimentary feature story in Sports Illustrated, the repeated banishments from the team's facility -- well, let's just say there was very little temptation to carpool to the Oakland Coliseum on Sundays.

On one memorable Sunday in Kansas City in 1996, Davis had me barred from the visitors' locker room at Arrowhead Stadium, my entry denied by an armed and adamant police officer after a narrow Raiders defeat to the Chiefs. The NFL later fined Davis $10,000 for violating its media policy; that afternoon I helpfully suggested during an appearance on San Francisco's KNBR-AM that, in the future, he could feel free to "eliminate the middle man: Pay me seven grand and I won't even come to the stadium."

OK, so I was young, and I could have been a tad less insolent. That said, I've always had sincere respect for Davis's football knowledge and abilities as a talent-evaluator -- which brings us to the hypothetical selection he's about to make in my third annual Ultimate Mock Draft.

The concept is the same as it was last year and in 2005. We take the current year's draft order, minus trades -- in other words, all picks are returned to the teams that originally owned them -- and pretend that anyone on earth is available.

Peyton Manning. Tiki Barber. Darren McFadden. Pacman Jones. Sanjaya Malakar ... they're all there for the picking.

The caveat, as always, is that players are available 'as is,' meaning teams will shy away from veterans like 2006 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Jason Taylor, who said he was contemplating retirement toward the end of last season, and perennial All-Pro wideout Marvin Harrison, who'll be 35 by the start of the '07 campaign.

As for Davis, who gets the first pick of UMD3, the only sure bet is that he and I won't see eye-patch-to-eye.

Ultimate Mock NFL Draft
Pick Team Player Position
1 Carson Palmer QB
If I were the one calling the shots for the Silver and Black, I'd bring in just two pre-draft visitors (Tom Brady and Peyton Manning) and pick the three-time Super Bowl champion who grew up across the Bay. But this is Davis' chance to live out his fantasy, to get that golden-armed passer who can throw a gorgeous deep ball -- and, let's face it, Palmer can make every throw look sublime. Having successfully bounced back last season from that brutal knee injury in the '05 playoffs, Palmer, 27, has fewer miles on his odometer than Brady (turns 30 in August) or Manning (31) and certainly knows what it's like to play for a team with an outlaw image. Besides, the studious Palmer can probably teach a thing or two about offense to 31-year-old Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin, who was USC's receivers coach when the Trojans' Palmer won the Heisman.
2 Peyton Manning QB
I know it makes sense from both a marketing and football standpoint to bring Brady back to the region where he starred at the University of Michigan. But Lions president Matt Millen, if you haven't noticed, has this thing about the letter 'M': Marty Mornhinweg, Steve Mariucci, Rod Marinelli. Now that Manning has finally won the big one, it seems plausible that he's great enough to lead the Lions out of their perpetually catatonic state. He could also be featured in some pretty entertaining Ford commercials along the way.
3 LaDainian Tomlinson RB
Despite Brady's New England connection with coach Romeo Crennel, the Browns' brass decides against picking the passer because, as one executive explains, "He's not from Ohio, like Bernie Kosar was." Instead Cleveland falls for the game's most brilliant offensive performer. Marty Schottenheimer, a man who has some history with this franchise, has repeatedly said that Tomlinson is the greatest back he has ever seen -- even better than Jim Brown. Now a whole lot of older Browns fans get to draw their own conclusions.
4 Tom Brady QB
"You have got to be freakin' kidding me!" Jon Gruden screams as soon as the Browns make their selection. "There is a God!" The coach and his equally driven new quarterback celebrate their union by playing a round of golf -- at two in the morning, on the way to work.
5 Shawne Merriman OLB/DE
That four-game suspension last season for a reported positive steroid test, and the dubious explanation that followed about hidden ingredients in a nutritional supplement? Fuggedaboudit. The Cardinals have no qualms about bringing 'Lights Out' to the Valley of the Sun, not after he followed up his Rookie of the Year campaign with 17 sacks in 12 games in '06.
6 Brian Urlacher LB
High drama in the Redskins' War Room: Head coach Joe Gibbs wants Walter Jones, a true Hog's Hog. Offensive coordinator Al Saunders wants Larry Johnson, his old Kansas City workhorse. Owner Dan Snyder wants Calvin Johnson. The stalemate is broken when defensive coordinator Gregg Williams leaps onto a table and screams, "Give me Urlacher or give me another $2 million a year!" He then begins speaking Parseltongue as Snyder plots a trade for Lance Briggs.
7 Walter Jones OT
Having successfully pried one prized lineman from the Seahawks, the Vikings pull off the double dip by reuniting Jones with guard Steve Hutchinson. In retaliation, the Seahawks sign Minnesota running back Artose Pinner, a restricted free agent, to a six-year, $67 million contract with a "poison pill" provision that he eat at least 60 meals at Shiro's sushi restaurant in Belltown in '07.
8 Calvin Johnson WR
Falcons owner Arthur Blank knows a promotional goldmine when he sees it, and there's no way the kid from Georgia Tech is slipping through his grasp. Speaking of which, given that Blank was the one who groused to a sideline reporter last year that the Falcons had three first-round receivers who can't catch, it doesn't take a hidden-water-bottle-compartment to conceal his thoughts on how to fix the Falcons' ailing passing attack.
9 Champ Bailey CB
Even the moon won't blanket Miami the way the league's preeminent coverage man will. And just for kicks, new coach Cam Cameron decides to use his new toy on offense, too.
10 Vince Young QB
A year after the draft-day gaffe they thought they'd never live down, the Texans make it right by selecting the hometown hero. Young strides triumphantly to the podium as clips of his game-winning, 39-yard touchdown run at Reliant Stadium last December flash in the background and The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" blares over the sound system.

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