Raiders to take Russell first in NFL draft

Mel Kiper Jr.’s endless analysis takes up around 75 percent of ESPN’s daily programming, prospect Brady Quinn is relentless in insisting that his dreadful Sugar Bowl performance should have no ill effects upon his draft status, and several high profile draft prospects have recently admitted to “experimenting” with marijuana. Yes, the 2007 NFL Draft has arrived, and come Saturday afternoon, Al Davis’ Oakland Raiders will be on the clock.

p. 1. Oakland Raiders — JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU — Don’t believe the rumors that Oakland is considering passing up Russell, signing journeyman quarterback Tim Rattay and drafting the highly touted wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Russell and his cannon of a right arm will be a perfect complement to the Raiders’ talented receiving tandem of Randy Moss and Jerry Porter.

p. 2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Via trade with Lions) — Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech — After selecting receivers in three of the last five NFL drafts, the gun-shy Lions will pass up the most talented player in this year’s draft and swap picks with the Bucs. Regardless of who is throwing him the ball, Johnson will thrive in Tampa Bay and develop into one of the NFL’s elite receivers for years to come.

p. 3. Cleveland Browns — Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma — Since the days of Ernest Byner in the late eighties, Cleveland has lacked a power running game, and their current solution to the running back problem — aging free agent acquisition Jamal Lewis — provides no long-term solution. Therefore Peterson, a former Heisman candidate, is the obvious pick at the three spot for Phil Savage’s Browns. After all, down by the shores of Lake Erie in the frigid months of December, the best way to win games is to pound the football.

p. 4. Detroit Lions (Via trade with Buccaneers) — Gaines Adams, DE, Clemson — Detroit trades down, nabs an extra second-round pick and ends up with the man they wanted all along, defensive end Gaines Adams. Sounds like a good deal to me. After recording 12.5 sacks his senior year, Adams, the reigning ACC defensive player of the year, will provide the Lions with a game-changing pass rusher.

p. 5. Arizona Cardinals — Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin — Arizona desperately needs help on the offensive line, and the beefy Thomas is just the man for the job. Not only does Thomas possess quick feet and ample size, but he also has the all-important offensive linemen mentality, as evidenced by Thomas’ decision to go fishing with his father rather than sit around for five hours at the 2007 draft ceremony.

p. 6. Washington Redskins — Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame — Sorry Brady, but NFL general managers know that just because you can consistently throw for 300+ yards and three touchdowns against the likes of Army and Navy doesn’t mean that you are a top five pick in the NFL. Quinn will slip to number six and the Redskins. After all, few feel Jason Campbell is the quarterback of the future in Washington.

p. 7. Minnesota Vikings — LaRon Landry, S, LSU — After allowing 239 pass yards per game, and finishing last in the NFL in overall pass defense, the obvious choice for the Vikings is LSU’s LaRon Landry. A talented safety, Landry will provide the Vikings with a much needed versatile playmaker in secondary.

p. 8. Atlanta Falcons — Amobi Okoye, DT, Louisville — With arguably the most potential of any player in the draft, Okoye is an intriguing pick for the Falcons at number eight. Although Okoye is only nineteen years old, the defensive tackle will provide instant production, as well as tremendous upside for the future.

p. 9. Miami Dolphins — Alan Branch, DL, Michigan — After losing many key contributors on both sides of the ball during the off-season, Miami could pursue a number of different approaches with the ninth pick. However, the Dolphins will opt to go the defensive route with their first round selection and nab Branch, a 330-pound behemoth who can effectively clog the running lanes no matter where he’s drafted.

p. 10. Houston Texans — Levi Brown, OT, Penn State — With David Carr out and Matt Schaub in at quarterback for the Texans, Houston wants to be absolutely sure that their newly acquired signal caller receives adequate pass protection. As the second best offensive linemen in the draft, Brown is a logical choice for the Texans to become the trusted guardian of Schaub’s blind spot.

p. __Graham Williamson is a sports columnist for The Flat Hat.__


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