Mock draft: Johnson rises, Thomas falls
MOCK DRAFT: Round 1
1.RaidersJaMarcus RussellQBLSUJunior1stSAME1st / 1st
Barring a significant pre-draft move — dealing WR Randy Moss or acquiring a veteran quarterback — expect Russell to continue to be the overwhelming favorite to be the first player off the board. The Raiders simply can't sit back and hope Andrew Walter develops into a legitimate starter.
VIDEO: Russell highlights
2.LionsBrady QuinnQBNotre DameSenior2ndSAME2nd / 2nd
If the Raiders pass on Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson, there's a strong chance he is the No. 2 overall pick — just not by the Lions. If Johnson is available and the Lions don't get the bounty they want for the pick, Quinn would be a nice addition as the long-term replacement for Jon Kitna.
VIDEO: Quinn highlights
3.BrownsCalvin JohnsonWRGeorgia TechJunior4th(+1)3rd/ 4th
If the local favorite Quinn isn't an option, Johnson should be. The Browns have a gaggle of offensive linemen, so they can afford to take arguably the draft's No. 1 talent over Wisconsin LT Joe Thomas. Yes, the Browns spent another No. 3 overall pick on Braylon Edwards just two years ago, but Joe Jurevicius is entering his 10th season and oft-injured Tim Carter and second-year Travis Wilson don't inspire much confidence.
VIDEO: Johnson highlights
4.BuccaneersGaines AdamsDEClemsonSenior5th(+1)4th / 5th
The Bucs covet Johnson, but drafting Adams certainly wouldn't be a bad alternative. DE Simeon Rice is recovering from shoulder surgery, and Adams' presence could lead to Rice playing elsewhere in 2007. The line could also use an infusion of youth, with Rice (entering his 12th season), Kevin Carter (13th) and Greg Spires (10th) the only ends on the roster with significant NFL experience.
VIDEO: Adams highlights
5.CardinalsJoe ThomasOTWisconsinSenior3rd(-2)3rd / 5th
A major gift could fall into the Cardinals' lap. They have bigger holes to fill, but Thomas is a franchise-caliber left tackle who could step in immediately to protect left-handed QB Matt Leinart and prevent the team from flipping RT Oliver Ross to the left side, where he hasn't played in the NFL.
VIDEO: Thomas highlights
6.RedskinsAmobi OkoyeDTLouisvilleSenior6thSAME6th / 9th
This is where trade talk figures to heat up once again, with the Redskins not possessing another pick until the fifth round. If Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson is still available, some team will attempt to move into this spot. But if the Redskins keep the selection, Okoye is a very intriguing 19-year-old with an enormous upside.
7.VikingsLaRon LandryFSLSUSenior8th(+1)6th / 8th
Fred Smoot is gone, and the Vikings need a reliable third corner behind starters Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin. Hall could fill that role immediately, and offers Pro Bowl talent down the road.
(from Texans)Adrian PetersonRBOklahomaSenior10th(+2)8th / 12th
The Falcons need secondary help, but if Landry is off the board there might not be another defense back worthy of this pick. That's where the "best available athlete" debate could come into play. Warrick Dunn is entering his 11th season, and he and impressive youngster Jerious Norwood might suffer with the Falcons going away from the zone blocking scheme under new coach Bobby Petrino. Peterson is the big, game-changing back Petrino might find too good to pass up.
VIDEO: Peterson highlights
9.DolphinsAlan BranchDTMichiganJunior9thSAME9th / 13th
Branch is slipping down most draft boards after a poor Combine and Pro Day. But he is still an imposing run stuffer who fills a massive need for the Dolphins. DT Keith Traylor is entering his 15th season, and Branch has far more potential than any other tackle on the roster.
VIDEO: Branch highlights
(from Falcons)Leon HallCBMichiganSenior7th(+3)7th / 10th
Beyond starters Dunta Robinson and Demarcus Faggins, the Texans are woefully thin at the position. Hall solidified his stock with a blistering 4.39-second 40-yard dash at the Combine answered lingering questions about his pure speed.
11.49ersRobert MeachemWRTennesseeJunior11thSAME11th / 16th
Antonio Bryant is gone, replaced by another enigma in Ashley Lelie. QB Alex Smith needs more weapons to provide a balanced offense, and Meachem fits the bill. He has great hands and his workouts prove he has the potential to emerge as a No. 1 wideout.
VIDEO: Meachem highlights
12.BillsPatrick WillisLBOle MissSenior12thSAME11th / 12th
With London Fletcher-Baker and Takeo Spikes sent packing this offseason, the Bills need linebacking help across the board. Willis has been one of the draft's most impressive workout warriors, and has the potential to step in right away in place of Fletcher-Baker as a run-stuffer on the inside.
13.RamsDarrelle RevisCBPittsburghJunior13thSAME13th / 18th
Tye Hill was a good first-round pickup last year, but he needs a long-term complement on the other side of the field. Revis literally ran himself back into the top half of the first round with a 4.38-second 40-yard dash at his March 17 Pro Day. He could step in as a nickel back immediately, with Fakhir Brown solid when healthy opposite Hill.
14.PanthersLevi BrownOTPenn StateSenior14thSAME8th / 14th
LT Travelle Wharton is expected to return from ACL surgery in time for training camp, but that hardly means he has a lock on the starting job. The Panthers' entire offense suffered due to spotty line play last season, and Brown would finally give Carolina the athletic left tackle it has sought for years.
VIDEO: Brown highlights
15.SteelersJamaal AndersonDEArkansasJunior19th(+4)10th / 19th
Coach Mike Tomlin, who hasn't committed to using the 3-4 or 4-3 defense next season, would tip his hand with this pick. Anderson is a raw, but very physically gifted pass rusher who would be a nice fit on the end of a more traditional 4-3.
VIDEO: Anderson highlights
16.PackersMarshawn LynchRBCaliforniaJunior16thSAME16th / 19th
Lynch played in a Pro Style offense at Cal, and could step in early in the season and make an impact in a backfield that currently features Vernand Morency and Noah Herron. And Lynch's versatility as a runner and receiver makes him an excellent fit for a West Coast offense.
VIDEO: Lynch highlights
17.JaguarsReggie NelsonSFloridaJunior17thSAME14th / 17th
Talk about a perfect mid-first-round fit. The Jaguars watched FS Deon Grant go to Seattle in free agency, but could find an immediate replacement with an excellent playmaker in Nelson. And it would be a public relations coup for a team that needs one, with Nelson coming playing his collegiate ball 70 miles away in Gainesville.
18.BengalsPaul PoslusznyLBPenn StateSenior21st(+3)18th / 31st
Acquiring a throw-back, hard-nosed player like Posluszny would provide more than a much-needed shot of good P.R. for the Bengals. His ability to play inside or outside would also provide versatility with MLB Odell Thurman unlikely to play for the team again and OLB David Pollack expected to return to end if he's able to return from his neck injury.
19.TitansAdam CarrikerDENebraskaSenior15th(-4)15th / 19th
When DE Antwan Odom landed on injured reserve last season, the Titans suffered up front because Travis LaBoy is tapped out as a capable backup. Carriker is a hard-nosed end who could help against the run and provide a nice complement to pass-rushing specialist Kyle Vanden Bosch on the other side.
20.GiantsLawrence TimmonsOLBFlorida StateJunior26th(+6)20th / 26th
The Giants need to surround MLB Antonio Pierce with fast playmakers, and Timmons might be the draft's best pure athlete at the position. Although the Giants did sign former Chiefs MLB Kawika Mitchell, there's no certainty he can make a successful transition outside. And while 2006 third-round pick Gerris Wilkinson had a promising rookie season, he's still a work in progress and the Giants don't have much depth at the position.
21.BroncosJustin HarrellDTTennesseeSenior25th(+4)21st / 27th
This is a bit early for a guy who missed all but three games of his senior season with a torn left bicep, but the Broncos don't have many holes to fill and can afford to take a risk on a player with a high ceiling. With the Dan Wilkinson trade cancelled after he chose not to report to the team, the Broncos remain very thin on the interior.
22.CowboysChris HoustonCBArkansasSenior26th(+4)22nd / 26th
Beyond starters Terence Newman and Anthony Henry, the Cowboys lack depth at corner. Houston is raw and likely needs a year or two to make a true impact, but Dallas can afford the luxury with veterans Aaron Glenn and Jacques Reeves able to handle the nickel role if necessary in '07. 23.ChiefsDwayne BoweWRLSUSenior23rdSAME23rd / 23rd
The depth at receiver could actually hurt some of the position's top prospects, with teams knowing there will be plenty of value later on. Bowe is a top 15 talent who could drop to the Chiefs, who certainly need to upgrade their receiving corps to help make life easier on RB Larry Johnson.
VIDEO: Bowe highlights
(from Seahawks)Brandon MeriweatherFSMiami (Fla.)Senior30th(+6)22nd / 30th
Asante Samuel is happy for now, but his pending one-year tender as the team's franchise player means the story will be the same next offseason without a multi-year deal. There is some depth with Ellis Hobbs, Randall Gay and Chad Scott, but Houston is a raw talent who could emerge into a top-notch starter in a few years.
25.JetsBen GrubbsOGAuburnSenior22nd(-3)15th / 25th
The Jets just might jump on a third offensive linemen in the first round in the past two years should they not be enamored with any of the cornerbacks left on the board. LG Pete Kendall will be entering his 12th season, giving Grubbs a year to learn the ropes from one of the league's scrappiest inside linemen.
VIDEO: Grubbs highlights
26.EaglesJon BeasonOLBMiami (Fla.)JuniorNR26th / NR
The trade for Takeo Spikes doesn't completely alleviate the need at the position, because the Eagles could still choose to play Spikes inside over declining Jeremiah Trotter. If that's the route they choose to take, Beason would be an upgrade over Dhani Jones or Matt McCoy on the outside.
27.SaintsGreg OlsenTEMiami (Fla.)Senior18th(-9)18th / 31st
The Saints have five tight ends on their roster, but none possess the speed or big-play ability of Olsen, who drops this far only because of a lack of need by many teams. New Orleans has done an excellent job of stocking depth on its roster, giving it the ability to make a luxury pick when a quality talent drops.
28.Patriots Jarvis MossDEFloridaJunior28thSAME21st / 28th
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick loves versatility, and a 3-4 defense might be a good fit for Moss. He's undersized for a traditional end, but hasn't displayed the agility to move permanently to linebacker at the next level. One thing is for certain — he has immense natural gifts, and Belichick is the man to figure out how best to utilize them.
29.Ravens Justin BlalockOTTexasSenior29thSAME29th / NR
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The Ravens' line is on the verge of a meltdown with RT Tony Pashos (free agency) and LG Edwin Mulitalo (released) gone, and LT Jonathan Ogden contemplating retirement. The Ravens are going to need several linemen in the near future, making Blaylock's versatility — he started at guard and tackle for the Longhorns — an inviting commodity.
VIDEO: Blalock highlights
30.Chargers Ted Ginn, Jr.WROhio StateJunior32nd(+2)30th / 32nd
The Chargers lack true deep speed to pull attention away from TE Antonio Gates and emerging WR Vincent Jackson. The have plenty of size at the position with Jackson and second-year WR Malcom Floyd to go along with possession receiver Eric Parker, so they can add Ginn as a third or fourth receiver in 2007 who can provide immediate help as a big-play return man.
VIDEO: Ginn highlights
31.Bears Dwayne JarrettWRUSCSoph.20th(-11)20th / 31st
The Bears already have a speedster in Bernard Berrian, so they shouldn't be thrown off by the pedestrian 40-yard times (4.67 and 4.62 seconds) turned in by Jarrett at the Trojans' March 28 Pro Day. And with Muhsin Muhammad on the decline entering his 12th season, the Bears need to address the pending need for a big, physical target who can be a threat in the red zone. VIDEO: Jarrett highlights
32.Colts Steve SmithWRUSCSeniorNR32nd / NR
Cornerback and linebacker are two other areas of need, but Ginn would serve several purposes. First, the Colts are frightfully thin beyond starting WRs Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, and coming from a major program Ginn should be able to make a quick impact as a slot receiver. He's also a big-time return threat who saves a roster space with his ability to pull double duty.
DROPPED OUT THIS WEEK:
Aaron Ross (CB, Texas 25th), Sidney Rice (WR, South Carolina, 31st).