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Posted: Friday August 15, 2008 12:57PM; Updated: Friday August 15, 2008 5:16PM
Michael Lombardi Michael Lombardi >

Frankly Football: Evaluating all of last year's first-round picks

Story Highlights
  • JaMarcus Russell looks to be in excellent shape in Year 2 with the Raiders
  • Patrick Willis and Reggie Nelson are among the '07 draft picks poised for stardom
  • Look for the Jets to have Brett Favre in the spread offense early in the season
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After an early holdout, JaMarcus Russell appeared in only four games as a rookie.
After an early holdout, JaMarcus Russell appeared in only four games as a rookie.
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How is Jake Long going to play? How does Darren McFadden look? Everywhere I go, I'm always asked about this year's rookies. That said, I thought this would be a good time to take a break from the 2008 draft and evaluate how the 2007 first-round picks are shaping up as we get deeper into the preseason. Here is a look at the top 10 picks, followed by the rest of last year's first round divided into appropriate categories.

The Top 10

1. JaMarcus Russell, QB, Raiders: Physically he is impressive -- slim, fit and looks like he could play running back. He is still sorting his way through the offense, and the key for his success will be the Raiders' finding out what he does best. Oakland needs a deep receiver to highlight Russell's arm and a passing offense to highlight his talents.

2. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: He tends to really slow down before breaking into his route and everyone in the NFL plays him for the vertical routes. He needs to improve his change of direction and route running, but in a play-action offense like the Lions are running, the deep ball is needed and Johnson can flat out fly deep.

3. Joe Thomas, OT, Browns: He has the look of recent Hall of Fame inductee Gary Zimmerman in that he's athletic, patient and confident.

4. Gaines Adams, DE, Bucs: Running Monte Kiffin's defense effectively requires a great weakside linebacker, an explosive "three-technique" tackle and an excellent pass-rushing right end. Adams looks like he is going to be able to handle that last role. He appears to have gotten stronger and more physical. I expect a big year from him.

5. Levi Brown, OT, Cardinals: If the Cardinals make the playoffs this year, it will be in large part because of their offensive line. Brown, who protects the blind side of left-handed quarterback Matt Leinart, has been impressive. Arizona's line as a group looks much improved.

6. LaRon Landry, S, Redskins: He impressed as a rookie, but has been slowed this camp with a hamstring injury. There will be some debate about whether he is the best rookie safety of this first round, as the Jaguars' Reggie Nelson is an explosive player with rare range.

7. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings: OK, I know even my kids know he is a great player. So how did he slip this far? Any excuse given would be a bad one, so I will leave it alone.

8. Jamaal Anderson, DE, Falcons: He is very athletic and appears to have gotten stronger. He'll need that strength to improve on a rookie season in which he didn't record a sack. This is the year Anderson has to change from being an athlete to a football player.

9. Ted Ginn Jr., WR: Dolphins: Miami, desperately looking for a wide receiver, worries Ginn is too inconsistent catching the ball. He does not have the initial lateral quickness and explosion to separate and tends to build speed as he goes. This is a critical year in Ginn's career and all those people who gave former head coach Cam Cameron grief for this pick may be right.

10. Amobi Okoye, DT, Texans: The 21-year-old is looking as good this year as he did in the early part of his rookie season. Okoye has good quickness and power. He and Mario Williams will give the Texans a physical and talented defensive front.

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