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08 Apr 2013

The 2007 Draft: Six Years Later

by Tom Gower

As we do every year about this time at Football Outsiders, it is time to step into the time machine and take a trip back to the April of six years ago. There were top quarterbacks with questions. There was a freak wide receiver who had put up phenomenal numbers with a legendarily bad college quarterback. There was a rock-solid left tackle who elected to spend draft day on a fishing boat instead of being feted in New York City.

Looking at the Report Card Report, the Browns had the consensus best draft for taking that left tackle, then moving back into the first round to add their new franchise quarterback. People liked what the Falcons did to improve their defense, the Raiders for using the first overall pick on their franchise quarterback, Carolina for finding a middle linebacker and a center, and Tampa for taking the first defensive player and a safety whose name would become legendary.

For a look at the best rookie years, check out Mike Tanier's 2007 All-Rookie Team. For a reminder of who went where, here is a list of all the picks in the draft.

Quarterbacks

Conventional Wisdom: How good, really, was JaMarcus Russell? Michael David Smith offered the opinion in September that he was not at all deserving of a first-round pick. Many people agreed with him. A fantastic performance in the Sugar Bowl and one of the best pro days anyone had seen cemented him as a high pick.

Brady Quinn looked much less impressive that January day in the Superdome, though he had the misfortune of facing LSU's pass defense instead of Notre Dame's and remained the consensus second-best quarterback in the draft. If you could overlook his Garo Yepremian moment, the Lewin Career Forecast (v. 1.0) suggested he was a far superior prospect to Russell and likely to become a good NFL quarterback.

Beyond the top two, beauty was very much in the eye of the beholder. BYU's John Beck was an older prospect with a limited ceiling who might be proficient. Trent Edwards was a four-year starter at Stanford, though he did not make it unscathed through any of those seasons.

Highest pick: Russell, first overall to the Raiders.

Best player: Um ... do I really have to pick one? Third-round pick Edwards has the most attempts, completions, passing yards, and interceptions of any quarterback in the draft. Russell actually ranks third in all three categories, though of course he has been out of the NFL long enough that he is now attempting a comeback. I will cast a reluctant vote for surprise second-round pick and LCF's favorite quarterback in the class (thanks to a respectable completion percentage as a four-year starter at Houston), Kevin Kolb. He ranks second in attempts, completions, and passing yards, and has thrown the most touchdown passes. More importantly, he is the only quarterback in the class who still has realistic hopes of being somebody's starter six years on.

Biggest bust: It was an awfully bad year for quarterbacks. The Dolphins were so impressed by the four games Beck started as a rookie they did not let him play in 2008 and released him the next April. Drew Stanton has not attempted a pass since 2010 and has fewer than 200 career attempts. Quinn's 2012 performance with the Chiefs led no one to call for him to get more playing time... other than Chiefs opponents.

Nevertheless, the biggest bust is still Russell, both in terms of both personal girth and quality of play.

Best value: Seventh-round selection Tyler Thigpen lost out in a battle for the Vikings' third quarterback job, but the Chiefs picked up him and he ended up as their primary starter in 2008. In the four years since then, Thigpen started one game and has attempted 83 passes, but one below-average season (-9.9% DVOA, 29th in DYAR) as a starter running a lot of pistol, which he had experience with at Coastal Carolina, is enough to make him the best value in this draft.

Running Backs

Conventional Wisdom: Adrian Peterson spent 2004 through 2006 destroying collegiate run defenses. NFL teams may have been scared off by a physical running style and heavy workload that too often left him nicked up. Cal's Marshawn Lynch was the best prospect after Peterson, with some believing he had similar potential, while others were much more concerned by his history of injuries and questioned his ability to carry a full load.

There was no consensus third-best running back, but the most intriguing player after the top two was Michael Bush of Louisville, who suffered a broken leg during the 2006 season and was unlikely to be a factor in 2007. Which team would be willing to take the same risk on him the Bills did with Willis McGahee in 2003, and when?

Highest pick: Peterson, seventh overall to the Vikings.

Best player: On the one hand, the critics were right about Peterson; 2012 was the first season he started all 16 games. On the other hand, he has never missed more than four games, averaged at least 4.4 yards per carry every season, rushed for at least 970 yards every season, and never ranked worse than 17th in DYAR. To put things in perspective, he has over 2,800 more rushing yards than the most prolific passer of this draft, Edwards, has passing yards. Yeah, he's been everything the Vikings were hoping for and more.

Biggest bust: It certainly was not Peterson or Lynch, who also has more rushing yards than Edwards has passing yards. Kenny Irons looked like the next great Auburn back when the Bengals selected him with the 50th pick, but blew out his knee in the first preseason game and was cut the next offseason. In the non-injury category, Arizona's Chris Henry blew up the Combine with a great 40 time and had a terrific Speed Score, but the Titans should have paid more attention to the fact that he did not crack 900 rushing yards total in college. He finished with 32 more NFL carries than Irons, only one of them good (a 24-yard touchdown run on a counter against the Raiders as a rookie).

Best value: Bush was a nice player for the Raiders after they snagged him with the 100th overall selection, but the best value came from the seventh round. The Giants found Ahmad Bradshaw out of Marshall, and he turned into a key contributor beginning in 2009. His size and resulting injury issues mean he is currently looking for work as a free agent, but over 900 carries and 4,000 rushing yards is a lot more production than teams normally find that late in the draft.

Wide Receivers

Conventional wisdom: Calvin Johnson had size, speed, hands, smarts, and almost everything else you could want from a wide receiver prospect. Plus, his experience catching passes from Reggie Ball at Georgia Tech had him well-prepared to be highly productive as a high pick on a team without a franchise quarterback. Beyond him, it was a good draft to look for a receiver early. Ted Ginn had speed to burn, but was not nearly as polished a wide receiver as fellow Buckeye Santonio Holmes had been the year before. Russell's favorite target Dwayne Bowe and Tennessee's Robert Meachem were both big receivers who had some speed. Dwayne Jarrett played at a high level at USC, but did not have good speed. Steve Smith, Craig "Buster" Davis, and Anthony Gonzalez were not quite as highly regarded, but were still expected to be early picks.

Highest pick: Johnson, second overall to the Lions.

Best player: Johnson has finished in the top ten in the league in DYAR four times in six seasons, including first overall the past two years and ninth in 2008 when the Lions went 0-16 with Dan Orlovsky, Jon Kitna, and Daunte Culpepper at quarterback. Now that he actually has teammates around him he gets to do things like blow away the NFL record for receiving yards in a season.

Biggest bust: Of the six receivers who went in the first round, two left their teams very happy: the Lions, and the Chiefs with Bowe 23rd overall. Two teams did not get what they hoped for, but still got some value out of the players -- the Dolphins with Ginn ninth overall and the Saints with Meachem 27th. The other two ended up with deeply disappointing performers. Gonzalez had a nice start to his career after the Colts snagged him at the end of the first round, ranking first and third in DVOA his first two seasons in a limited role, but was never again healthy and has only five more receptions to his credit. The Chargers took Davis two picks earlier, and he never came close to even that brief period of success. He ranks as this class's biggest bust, narrowly edging out Panthers second-round pick Jarrett.

Best value: The 73rd through 80th picks in the draft were all wide receivers asides from a tight end going 77th. The dividing line ended up being pick number 78. Including that pick (James Jones of San Jose St. to the Packers), ten of the 14 receivers drafted up to that point spent 2012 in the NFL. After that point, only two did. Fifth-round pick Legedu Naanee outplayed fellow 2007 draftee Davis in San Diego, but has never been the sort of player a team would commit to. Fellow fifth-rounder Steve Breaston from Michigan was a very useful second or third receiver for the Cardinals for a few years and drew good money in free agency from the Chiefs, which is enough to earn my nod as the best value pick.

Tight End

Conventional wisdom: Greg Olsen was the latest, though not the greatest, Miami tight end prospect, if you could overlook his 7th Floor Crew experience (link NSFW language(!!), questionable taste, bad rapping; Olsen segment at 6:09). Arizona State's Zach Miller did not offer nearly the same speed threat Olsen did, but was well-regarded for his hands and route-running.

Highest pick: Olsen, 31st overall to the Bears.

Best player: Probably Olsen, even if he never quite was the game-changer the Bears were hoping for. 2012 was his first season with good efficiency numbers (fifth in DYAR, never better than 22nd before). Miller lived up to his billing, serving as a high-volume, modest-efficiency target for a series of quarterbacks in Oakland (which tabbed him with the 38th overall pick) before moving to Seattle in free agency.

Biggest bust: None, really. The closest thing was Falcons fourth-round selection Martrez Milner. The Georgia product got hurt as a rookie and never played a game thereafter, but how big a bust can the 133rd overall pick really be? Every other tight end drafted before the seventh round was around in 2012, though Kevin Boss's concussions should probably lead him to retire.

Best value: The Eagles took Brent Celek from Cincinnati in the fifth round, 162nd overall. His 76 catch 2009 campaign is the best season any tight end in the class has had, and he ranks narrowly ahead of Olsen and Miller in receiving yards, though the gap between first and third is a mere 132 yards.

Offensive Line

Conventional wisdom: If you wanted a left tackle, Wisconsin's Joe Thomas was your man, especially if you wanted to start a team fishing show. Penn State's Levi Brown was the consensus second tackle, though his lack of elite athleticism might mean an eventual move to the right side. Central Michigan's Joe Staley was a small-school prospect who could develop into a mean left tackle if you wanted to take a chance. If you wanted a guard in the first round, Auburn's Ben Grubbs was the one who merited a selection, while USC's Ryan Kalil was the top center in the draft.

Highest pick: Thomas, third overall to the Browns.

Best player: Thomas has made the Pro Bowl every season of his career and been named first- or second-team All-Pro by the Associated Press five times. Staley, who went 28th overall to the 49ers, has turned into a very fine player in his own right and may now be better than Thomas, but I rate Thomas as having the better career to date. Grubbs and Kalil have both been nice players as well.

Biggest bust: This looked like Brown, fifth overall to the Cardinals. He has not come anywhere close to living up to his draft status. Still, he is better than he used to be, and, as we saw in 2012, much better than the Cardinals' other alternatives at the position. The bigger busts came later. With the 67th pick, the Cowboys took James Marten, who played both left guard and left tackle at Boston College. He never appeared in an NFL game, getting cut after spending his entire rookie season as a healthy inactive.

Best value: 2007 was not the right season to look for an offensive lineman late in the draft. The last player drafted to turn into a starter was Purdue's Uche Nwaneri, who went 149th overall to the Jaguars and has started at guard the past five seasons.

Defensive Line

Conventional wisdom: If you wanted a speed rushing defensive end, Gaines Adams was the top player on your board and probably the first defensive player to be chosen, while Jarvis Moss was your second choice and a better pick later in the first round. If you wanted a bigger end, Jamaal Anderson was rated a top-ten pick after picking up 13.5 sacks at Arkansas in 2006, with Nebraska's Adam Carriker your second choice. If you wanted a defensive tackle, 19-year-old Amobi Okoye from Louisville was an intriguing penetrator, while Michigan's Alan Branch was your standard issue man-mountain in the middle. Justin Harrell was the number three defensive tackle and a player who could be something special if he could stay healthy and develop pass rush moves.

Highest pick: Adams, Clemson, fourth overall to the Buccaneers.

Best player: It was a bad year to be in search of a defensive end. Charles Johnson, who went to the Panthers in the third round, 83rd overall out of Georgia, is the most prolific defensive lineman in terms of sacks. He has 43.0, despite not being a regular starter until his fourth season. Overall, though, it's been Cal defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, who went 85th overall to the Seahawks and quickly became a regular starter.

Biggest bust: There are a lot of candidates here, as the four defensive ends taken in the top 17 have combined for 36.0 career sacks, and Adams had 13.5 of those before his tragic death. The overall winner, however, is Harrell, whose NFL career was even more injury-plagued than his college career. He played in seven games in 2007, six in 2008, and one in 2010 before the Packers released him.

Best value: It was not much of a draft at the bottom for defensive lineman either. Sixth-rounder Jacob Ford spent a couple years near the top of our best prospects list, but was never more than a nickel rusher and finished with only 15.5 sacks. The last player to develop into a starter was fifth-rounder Antonio Johnson, whom the Colts picked up off the Titans' practice squad. Like Johnson, fourth-rounders Brian Robison (Vikings) and Paul Soliai (Dolphins) eventually turned into starters, but not until their fourth seasons in the league. If you want to consider Mebane here as well, I will not disagree with you too strongly.

Linebackers

Conventional wisdom: Patrick Willis was a tackling machine in the middle of the field and the best linebacker in the draft. Jon Beason, Lawrence Timmons, and Paul Posluszny were pretty good in their own rights and could be first-round selections. LaMarr Woodley and Anthony Spencer were undersized defensive ends who might make good 3-4 outside linebackers.

Highest pick: Willis, Ole Miss, 11th overall to the 49ers.

Best player: Willis. In case you have not noticed the trend, the conventional wisdom and NFL teams in this draft were either pretty close to right or there were very few, if any, other good options available. Timmons (Florida State, 15th, Steelers), Beason (another 7th Floor Crew member at Miami, 25th, Panthers), Posluszny (Penn State, 34th, Bills), Woodley (Michigan, 46th, Steelers), and Spencer (Purdue, 26th, Cowboys) all turned into good or better players.

Biggest bust: The linebackers who went in the first two rounds all turned into NFL starters, so we turn our eyes to the top of the third round. The Arizona Cardinals selected "the other Buster Davis," who was undersized but highly productive at Florida State, 69th overall. He did not make it out of training camp and was recently a high school football coach in Florida, where he was fired after his team was outscored 358-8 in their first season of play in 2012.

Best value: This looked like it would be Clint Session, but concussion problems pretty much ended the career of the Colts' fourth-round pick, 136th overall out of Pitt, after he signed a free-agent contract with the Jaguars. Instead, the last drafted player to develop into a long-term starter was South Florida's Stephen Nicholas, who went 102nd to the Falcons.

Defensive Backs

Conventional wisdom: Leon Hall and Darrelle Revis, in some order, were the top two corners in the draft and expected to go somewhere in the middle of the first round. The stars of the draft were in the safety class, where four players could be chosen in the first round. The brightest of those was LaRon Landry, a likely top ten pick. The University of Texas offered a pair of intriguing prospects in safety Michael Griffin and, another corner who could be a first-round pick, Aaron Ross.

Highest pick: Landry, LSU, sixth overall to the Redskins.

Best player: Revis, Pitt, 14th overall to the Jets. In the safety class, the best player was found not in the first round but early in the second, where the Chargers took Utah's Eric Weddle.

Biggest bust: The question, as it often does, becomes a question of how big and what type of bust you prefer. The Jaguars tired of Florida star Reggie Nelson three years after taking him 21st and traded him for David Jones, who was jaw-droppingly, unbelievably terrible. Making back-to-back Pro Bowls did not force the Patriots to keep Brandon Meriweather until the end of his rookie deal.

With the final pick in the second round, the Buccaneers took a player Pete Prisco really liked, Sabby Piscitelli. Not too far outside the top 100 players for NFL Draft Scout and Scouts Inc., the Oregon State product became a starter in 2009 and was one of the most gloriously inept players in recent league history. He missed tackles. He blew coverages. He took bad angles. He blew gaps in run support. He is now out of the league.

Best value: In a recurring theme of the draft, the first two rounds were the place to find players, and anything after that was a bonus. The biggest exceptions to the rule came in San Francisco, where the other Texas corner, fifth-rounder Tarell Brown, became a starter in his fifth season and the fourth-round pick, 126th overall out of Washington, free safety Dashon Goldson, ended up as the real standout.

Special Teams

Conventional wisdom: Only two years removed from the Mike Nugent experience, nobody was going to take a kicker in the second round again. If you were a team that believed in taking a kicker relatively early in the draft, Mason Crosby of Colorado offered an excellent combination of a strong leg and very good accuracy, even outside of Colorado's Folsom Field. UCLA's Justin Medlock was the other consensus draftable kicker, while Arizona's Nick Folk was borderline. At punter, the two to consider were Baylor's Daniel Sepulveda and Maryland's Adam Podlesh, with Sepulveda offering the stronger leg and Podlesh better accuracy.

Highest pick: Podlesh, 101st overall to the Jaguars. Yes, Gene Smith drafted a punter in the fourth round five years before he took Bryan Anger in the third round because he's a starter. Podlesh, Sepulveda (who went 112th to the Steelers), and Anger are the only punters drafted in the first four rounds in the past seven drafts.

Best player: Notwithstanding Gene Smith's evaluation of the worth of the punting position, Podlesh has consistently been an outstanding directional kicker who does not boom the ball but instead works very well with the coverage teams to limit returns. He did not face fierce competition in this class, though.

Biggest bust: No kicker drafted in 2007 has been above-average, but Medlock was clearly the worst. The Chiefs took him late in the fifth round, 160th overall, but an inconsistent preseason and a missed 30-yarder in the season opener convinced them it was time to move on. He finally returned to the NFL in 2012 with Carolina, but they cut him after ten games.

Best value: The Dolphins drafted Brandon Fields out of Michigan State in the seventh round, 225th overall, and he is not only still in the league, he is also still the Dolphins' punter. As far as I know, there is no collection of fans that wants to run him out of town on a rail. By position group standards, that makes him a rousing success.

Previous articles in this series:

Posted by: Tom Gower on 08 Apr 2013

38 comments, Last at 03 May 2013, 8:38pm by DisplacedPackerFan

Comments

1
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 1:13pm

I forgot what a dumper fire the QB Class of 07 was. If you were looking to draft a QB that year, the only right answer was "none of the above". Worst class since 96. But at least in 96, the teams knew there was nothing to be had, and only 1 QB went in the first two rounds.

I agree with the author that Kolb almost has to be considered the best QB from the 07 class, if only because he's the only one still even being discussed as a potential starter.

2
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 1:14pm

Meant to type "dumpster", but I like a nice Freudian typo...

23
by TomC :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 10:46pm

I think "dumper fire" is also an accurate metaphor for the Bears' draft that year. Other than a semi-productive tight end Mike Martz didn't want and a late-round special teamer who's suddenly blossoming in someone else's secondary, none of the other picks were worth a damn. Particularly galling were the 2nd- and 3rd-round picks spent on undersized defenders nobody else had ever heard of, probably would have been available as undrafted free agents, and never played a down.

26
by bengt (not verified) :: Tue, 04/09/2013 - 7:10am

When you sort the PFR list by CareerAV, the top four players with passing stats are Marshawn Lynch, Siddney Rice, Steve Breaston and Michael Bush. Fifth, Trent Edwards. Incredible.

3
by Passing Through (not verified) :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 1:17pm

Great draft for the niners:

Patrick Willis
Joe Staley
Ray McDonald
Dashon Goldson
Tarell Brown

Pretty terrible draft for New England. New England had 9 draft picks, but only 1 in the first three rounds. The only notable player was the 1st rounder, Brandon Meriweather.

5
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 1:30pm

I'm increasingly thinking that a sober Scott McCloughan is the best talent evaluator in the game, he put some great drafts together in San Francisco and in the two years since he arrived in Seattle, they've had two amazing drafts. The perception of the Seattle front office has changed quite a bit from the people who decided that Charlie Whitehurst was the future.

As far as I'm concerned the sooner the rest of the NFL realises that he could be the driving force behind the resurgent Seahawks and hires him away from them the better, preferably someone in the AFC.

11
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 4:01pm

McCloughan made up for in in 2008, where the only keepers were in rounds 6 and 7. Maybe he'd lost his grip on sobriety by then.

16
by Passing Through (not verified) :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 5:27pm

I think I must be crazy or stupid because I couldn't find evidence online that Scott McLoughlin still works for the Seahawks.

It's amazing that despite some great drafts, the niners never really got off the ground under Harbaugh and staff showed up. It also helped a lot that Baalke drafted Kaepernick, although the niners were clearly successful before Kap hit the field.

17
by Passing Through (not verified) :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 5:28pm

*under = until

20
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 6:57pm

I'm happy to be corrected but I can't recall hearing that he left them.

21
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 7:17pm

OK, it may be that you are crazy or stupid, the Seahawks wikipedia page lists him Senior Personnel Executive ;-)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle_Seahawks#Current_staff

37
by RickD :: Fri, 05/03/2013 - 3:31pm

For those distrustful of wikipedia:

http://www.seahawks.com/team/staff.html

15
by Malene, copenhagen (not verified) :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 5:14pm

The players they did take were horrible, but I think the Pats draft look a little better considering the trades:

Traded 2nd + 7th rounder for Wes Welker
Traded (extra) 1st for a 4th and a 2008 1st. Traded the 4th rounder for Randy Moss.
Turned the 2008 1st rounder (no. 7) into no. 10 (Jerod Mayo, yes!) + a 3rd rounder (Shawn Crable, doh!)
Traded 3rd for a 7th rounder + a 2008 3rd from Oakland.
Turned the 2008 3rd into a 2008 5th and a 2009 2nd (Ron Brace, ouch)

Their 5th round pick was traded for the immortal Doug Gabriel, yikes.

Welker, Moss and Mayo makes up for a lot, but sure is a lot of wasted opportunities.

18
by Passing Through (not verified) :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 5:31pm

Great point, thanks!

I wonder if Belicheck should have traded up with some of those 8 low draft picks. Seems like a waste to grab 8 late-round players for a good team. Especially in retrospect, with none of them really making any impact.

4
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 1:26pm

I disagree with the best LB value. Desmond Bishop may have been injured last year. But he was becoming a force for the Packers before then, enough to be signed to a 4 year/$19M deal. He was drafted at #192. I'm pretty sure they have him penciled in as the starter again for this fall.

6
by Dean :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 2:00pm

"A player Pete Prisco really liked."

Shouldn't that have been a warning to us all?

34
by BigCheese :: Thu, 04/18/2013 - 2:36am

Yes. Quoting from his mock draft:

"They passed on Matt Leinart last year, which was a major mistake.

Picking Quinn would make amends for that."

Wrap your head around that statement for a while.

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

7
by Mr Shush :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 2:10pm

That Texans class contained quite a lot of players who started some games for them at some point (Amobi Okoye, Jacoby Jones, Fred Bennett, Kasey Studdard, Zach Diles), but precisely zero who were actually good. Well, I suppose Bennett was good for about half a season. Rick Smith's first draft class was the team's last bad one.

35
by BigCheese :: Thu, 04/18/2013 - 2:37am

Wasn't Okoye decent for a while in Houston?

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

36
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 04/18/2013 - 3:46am

Not really. He picked up a few sacks as a rookie, but his play against the run was always poor, and his pass-rushing never lived up to that early promise. He was legitimately good enough to start given the appalling quality of the Texans' other options at DT at the time, but he was never more than a marginal player by league-wide standards.

8
by Travis :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 2:11pm

He did not make it out of training camp and was recently a high school football coach in Florida, where he was fired after his team was outscored 358-8 in their first season of play in 2012.

That article's unfair to Davis; Duval Charter was indeed outscored 358-8 in their first 5 games, but managed to score 26 points in their next two before Davis was fired. Allowing 119 probably didn't help.

9
by Travis :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 2:22pm

[Bradshaw] turned into a key contributor beginning in 2009.

He didn't do much during the regular season, but Bradshaw did lead the Giants in rushing during the 2007 playoffs.

12
by AdamB (not verified) :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 4:11pm

From an "immediate dividends" perspective, the 2007 draft was a huge win for the Giants. Ross, Smith, Boss, and Bradshaw were all had roles in parts of the regular as well as the playoffs and Super Bowl (Smith and Boss had huge catches in the SB and Bradshaw put up 45 yards on 9 carries). Jay Alford had only 1 tackle in the entire postseason, but it was a sack of Tom Brady on the last drive of the game. Zak DeOssie contributed enough on special teams that his name was called a couple of times.

This was a classic case of drafting role players- no perennial Pro Bowlers (except maybe Bradshaw had he been able to stay healthy), but solid contributors. The great thing in my view is that the Giants were smart enough not to overpay any of them when they came back for huge contracts (e.g. Smith, Ross).

13
by Bjorn Nittmo :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 4:31pm

Yeah, to be more precise, he turned into a key contributor on Dec. 23, 2007 at about 3:45p EST, when he ripped off an 88-yard TD run against the Bills and the Giants realized they had a post-season replacement for Derrick Ward, who had broken his leg a few weeks earlier.

22
by Tom Gower :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 8:51pm

It was weird, because a number of the Giants rookies played key roles in the 2007 playoffs after not doing anything during the regular season, including notably Bradshaw and Boss. I recall Rick Gosselin doing rookie grades maybe in late December and giving the Giants an F.

28
by slipknottin :: Wed, 04/10/2013 - 12:01am

Derrick Ward and Jeremy Shockey were the reasons for that. Both got hurt, and rookies who didn't get much playing time stepped in for them.

10
by Peregrine :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 3:07pm

As a Falcons fan, I'm completely offended that you picked anyone other than Jamaal Anderson as the biggest DL bust of the 2007 draft. At least the Packers didn't pick Harrell over Willis or Revis.

14
by zerlesen (not verified) :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 4:53pm

I think back on this draft as the beginning of the end of the Shanahan administration in Denver. The defensive line was a fairly obvious area of need and they ended up with Jarvis Moss, Tim Crowder, and Marcus Thomas, whereupon the defensive line continued to be a fairly obvious area of need.

19
by Jim C. (not verified) :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 5:45pm

I'm not sure how "value" is assessed here, but the Ravens drafting Marshall Yanda in the third round worked out pretty well.

24
by bubqr :: Tue, 04/09/2013 - 4:14am

Yup that was a huge ;iss IMO.

Other than that I'd argue that best value at LB was Woodley.

27
by Tom Gower :: Tue, 04/09/2013 - 11:01am

Philosophically, I have a hard time putting third-round players who convert from a more valuable position to a less valuable one (and Yanda did play tackle early in his career) as the biggest value in the draft. I suppose I should have mentioned him and Jermon Bushrod, who went in the fourth round, though.

25
by bubqr :: Tue, 04/09/2013 - 4:20am

And also, big bust - Tony Hunt, RB Eagles (Penn State). I was screaming for Michael Bush then, but they settled for the small, slow RB that they tried turning into a FB then cut. I think Chris Henry, just by being blown up by a Colt DT on a Kickoff return, did more than him.

29
by greengoblin (not verified) :: Wed, 04/10/2013 - 8:45am

Wow I forgot how the 2007 class was so void of quality QBs. The best QB that year wasn't even drafted. Meet Matt Moore.

30
by Qwijybo (not verified) :: Sun, 04/14/2013 - 2:12am

Great column, just one thing. You call it "Best Value", but aren't you really doing "Best 3rd Rd Pick or Later"? I'd argue some of the 1st or 2nd rd players still were the best value in their draft, despite being picked higher.

31
by Qwijybo (not verified) :: Sun, 04/14/2013 - 2:12am

Great column, just one thing. You call it "Best Value", but aren't you really doing "Best 3rd Rd Pick or Later"? I'd argue some of the 1st or 2nd rd players still were the best value in their draft, despite being picked higher.

32
by Tom Gower :: Sun, 04/14/2013 - 9:07pm

Eh, maybe, depending on how you think of value. We had this discussion in the 2005 draft, when I noted Matt Cassel instead of Aaron Rodgers. This year, for instance, VAE has Patrick Willis as the best value at linebacker while Session and Nicholas are tied for fifth. My conception of value is more "relative to reasonably optimistic expectations," plus mentioning more players makes for a more interesting column in my book. If you disagree, that's fine with me.

33
by Dr. Mooch :: Tue, 04/16/2013 - 10:10am

Everybody get excited. Sabby Piscitelli is back with the Jags! Fingers crossed for 2013 to seal the deal on his KCW Lifetime Achievement Award.

38
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Fri, 05/03/2013 - 8:38pm

So I had to learn how to do something in a spreadsheet and I realized it would allow me to do some quick copy and paste from PFR and get a very rough "draft reach" calculation.

So quite simply you rank every player in the draft. I did this by sorting the draft picks by Career AV, then games played (if AV was equal), then years as a primary starter, then all pros, then pro bowls, then by pick number. That was all the easily copied and pasted data.

So for the 2007 draft, Patrick Willis should have been the #1 pick based on that sort order, he was actually picked 11th, which makes his "reach value" a 10, he was picked 10 spots after he should have been. Calvin Johnson is the 4th best player, so far, of that draft by the ranking (56 career AV, Willis has 82), since he was the 2nd pick, his "reach value" is a -2. He was picked two spots sooner than he should have been.

This sort order means that a kicker/punter has more value than other players who didn't earn any AV because they end up playing more games. Of course they'll still end up ranked behind even JaMarcus Russel because he did earn some AV. They will still likely have a better "reach value" though because they will tend be ranked around 200 or so and tend to be picked later in the draft. 7th round picks that don't earn any AV or play in any games since they get ranked by draft order as the last sort tend to have "reach value" in the -10 to 0 range because you don't expect much from them. Of course a Marques Colston or Tom Brady can end up +170 or so by themselves.

Again this data is all as it's reported in the draft sections on PFR when you do the year by year draft stuff on pro football reference, the sorting actually happened in Excel, but whatever.

So why did I post in response to a month old post? Well this table shows the total of each teams "reach value" for the 2007 draft. Buffalo, with their 7 picks ended up have a total reach value of 180. It means that if the draft were redone and players were picked in the order of their value that Buffalo got it's entire class 180 picks later in the draft than they should have gone. That's an average of 25.7 spots. So a player they picked at say 50 "should" have been picked at 25. It was a good draft for them. Of course 91 of those "points" came from C.J. Ah You. He was the 239th pick, but the 4 AV and 33 games he's played rank him as the 148th best player drafted. Staying in the AFC E, New England and Miami reached for the players they got, the Jets, like the Bills got good value.


AFC E.......AFC N.......AFC S.......AFC W
BUF 180.....BAL 132.....HOU 150.....DEN -157
MIA -176....CIN 25......IND -79.....KAN -86
NWE -131....CLE -75.....JAX 28......OAK -155
NYJ 148.....PIT 30......TEN -143....SDG 115

NFC E NFC N NFC S NFC W
DAL 7.......CHI -132....ATL 194.....ARI 19
NYG 368.....DET -370....CAR 40......STL -144
PHI -197....GNB 193.....NOR 64......SEA 179
WAS -91.....MIN 17......TAM 49......SFO -2

Other 2007 tidbits.
Ahmad Bradshaw was the steal of the draft, picked 250th, he ranks as the 20th best player taken. So he should have been taken 230 spots earlier than he was. Part of why New York was a +368.

Kenny Irons, 49th pick by Cincy ranks as the biggest reach (-178). He comes in as the 227th best player taken because he's in the large pack of no AV, no games players this draft had. He really should be a bigger reach, but since the sort puts more value on players taken earlier he is 227th and 255, though really all those guys are the same. I did the ranking that way so that the 255th player taken, who like will have no value, doesn't give as big of a negative, because well the last player taken shouldn't give any value.

Justin Harrell ranks as the 175th best player taken, he did manage to accumulate 2 AV and played in 14 games, so he was only the 253rd biggest reach going 159 slots earlier than he should have. He was by far the worst 1st rounder taken 16th overall. 254 was the 62nd pick by Chicago, Dan Bazuin.

17 of the 32 'best' players were taken in the first round, though of course most of are pretty close to a zero "reach value".

San Fran got three "first rounders" with Willis, Staley, and Goldson, but since two of them were actually picked in the first round, they don't get a lot of "value" for them hence the -2 overall. Willis was already mentioned, Staley is currently the 16th best player, but as the 28th pick only gives a 12. Goldson gets the 104 as the 22nd ranked player taken 126 overall. Jay Moore, taken at 104 but ranked at 230 wipes all that out with his -126 though. But San Fran in general picked the players almost spot on to where they should have been taken. One really good pick offset by one bad pick and then several pretty close to the mark.

It's a very flawed metric, it has all the problems of AV along with all the problems of ordinal rankings. What Danny did with AV is quite a bit better, but this was quick, easy, and kinda fun. I can do any year that PFR has the draft data for, I've only gone back to 05 because I was curious about how Thompson rated by this metric in his GB tenure. But it's just a quick copy paste and some sorting.

If you trust AV and the other sorting metrics it's a quick way to see who got good value. For example, the Packers have picked one of the 32 best players in the draft every year that Thompson has been there. The have gotten 2 or 3 of the top 32 players in 4 of the last 8 years. Why 32? Well that's a "first round" pick if players really are as valuable as the order they are picked.