The NFL Draft is over and now we know what team rosters will look like for the 2007 barring any further trades or player cuts. A number of trades transpired but none had a dramatic fantasy effect other than perhaps the Cleveland trade with Dallas which netted them the profusely sweating Brady Quinn while giving the Cowboys their first round pick in 2008 which they hope turns into a golden ticket. That reminds me - why doesn't Nintendo seize the promotional opportunity and give all Green Room players a free GameBoy? Sure, most are out of there in the first handful of picks but guys like Aaron Rodgers and Brady Quinn probably would have appreciated having something to do other than sitting there looking like he is waiting outside the principals office.
The fantasy impact of this draft - for this year - appears to be no better than recent years and possibly worse. In the offensive positions used for fantasy football, usually only one player from each position looked like a safe bet for appreciable playing time this year. That could all change of course. We'll get treated to a few players that will look unstoppable in mini-camps mainly because the defense is not allowed to stop them anyway. Once the pads are on in August, there will be a much more realistic view of what to expect this season. For now, let's take a quick look at the notables in each fantasy position.
JaMarcus Russell (1.01 OAK) - The first pick of the draft went to the Raiders where his ability to chunk a football 70 yards plays very well into the vertical game that Al Davis always loves. What the scheme here will be remains to be seen but HC Lane Kiffen comes from USC and OC Greg Knap came over from Atlanta. Interesting thing here is that Knapp's background is all in the west coast offense so Russell will need to make all the short throws as well. Russell is huge at 6'6" and 256 pounds and comes off a successful career at LSU. With only Andrew Walter to battle, it's almost certain that Russell plays this year, if not most of the season. If not possibly all the season. He's mobile in the backfield and with his size, there's no guarantee he won't get the pass off anyway even when he has defenders hanging on to him. This will serve him well if the Oakland line resembles 2006. He has the cannon arm, the size to stand strong and yet the mobility to buy time and even scoot down field if needed. For a team starting over, again, Russell was a great pick and should be the franchise quarterback for many years. 2007 Early Expectation: Eventual starter this year, could be week one.
Brady Quinn (1.22 CLE) - While Quinn had to play the waiting game, the end game was that he still ended up with the Browns. Brady comes in as perhaps the most polished rookie quarterback after playing for Charlie Weis at Notre Dame in a pro system. He has a strong arm and is an accurate passer. He also throws what is termed "a receiver friendly" ball which is more important than may seem. Too many quarterbacks come out of college with the ability to throw a ball through a brick wall and continue to do that on short routes where it is not needed. He rarely threw interceptions in college which is another major plus. He has all the markings of a quarterback who should end up no less than "good" with a shot at "very good" once the Browns assemble an offense with any potency. He has been likened to Tom Brady but that could have started with his agent. 2007 Expectations: Possible playing time this year but likely not much fantasy value.
Kevin Kolb (2.04 PHI) - The gunslinger from Houston plays behind Donovan McNabb. He comes from an offensive scheme that focused on wide open formations and much passing but that was far different than the west coast offense. This was a genuine surprise to most both how early he was taken and that he leapfrogged over John Beck, Drew Stanton and Trent Edwards. 2007 Expectations: None unless McNabb and A.J. Feely get hurt. He's a project.
John Beck (2.08 MIA) - The BYU product came to Miami when they said "Ginn" instead of "Quinn" at the 1.08. This kid is starter material to be sure and a nice pick-up despite taking Ginn so early. Beck is a big student of the game and a gym rat that takes his position very seriously. Beck became a starter as a freshman and has developed a quick throwing style that will serve him well in the NFL. He has great touch and his only negative is that he is 6'2 and only 216 pounds so he will likely add some bulk. 2007 Expectations: The Culpepper situation - and the Trent Green one as well - needs to be clarified first. Likely to just learn this year and not play.
Drew Stanton (2.11 Michigan State) - The Stanford quarterback was very highly ranked and could have been the third quarterback taken. Very accurate and has a good arm but is not considered to have a cannon like some. Stanton should prove to be a good leader and is a smart player which will serve him well in the complex Detroit scheme. 2007 Expectations: None. He'll likely learn behind Jon Kitna for at least one year and possibly two before getting an opportunity.
Adrian Peterson (1.07 MIN) - The first back drafted is a force on the football field so long as he remains healthy which he hasn't always. The Oklahoma back combines decent size (217 lbs, 6'2") with 4.40 speed and plenty of moves to make the defense miss. He also has the power to pick up extra yards and even has been knocked for not going out of bounds and absorbing more hits than he needs to. 2007 Expectations: Will obviously share with Chester "say what!?!" Taylor in some ratio not yet defined. He's much too talented to sit and yet the Vikes have some investment in the veteran Taylor. Figure on 60/40 sharing that favors Peterson by mid-season.
Marshawn Lynch (1.12 BUF) - This is easily the most encouraging rookie runner for 2007 since he only has to beat out Anthony Thomas and Shaud Williams to start. That should happen in training camp. Lynch is a Cal Bear who has prototypical size and comes into the NFL as an accomplished runner with a "second gear" when he gets into the open. Good at catching the ball as well, Lynch is almost certain to be the starter in Buffalo this year. 2007 Expectations: Likely starter.
Kenny Irons (2.17 CIN) - A natural runner with almost no experience catching the ball, Irons plays bigger than his 203 pound frame but that could change in the NFL. He has the vision and instincts that cannot be taught. 2007 Expectation: With Rudi Johnson firmly entrenched, the best he can hope for is to become the next Chris Perry who is still there. Very limited outlook for this year.
Chris Henry (2.18 TEN) - The Arizona back goes to a team that should provide opportunity with only LenDale "you done eating that?" White likely ahead of him. Henry has all the physical characteristics of a great back in size (6'0", 228 lbs.), speed (4.43) and enough power to push the pile. Can break tackles and has good balance. But he is usually considered to be a project because he played behind Mike Bell and in 2006 when he had a chance to be the man he was benched after only two games. He had issues with the coaching staff and was suspended for one game and did not become a starter again until the final four games of last year. He only had six starts at Arizona and only ran the ball 296 times for 896 yards in college which is only a 3.3 yard average. So far he has not yet played up to the level that he may be capable of and yet he has a golden opportunity in Tennessee. 2007 Expectation: A definite training camp watch if only because he doesn't have much to work through to get playing time.
Brandon Jackson (2.31 GB) - Evidently HC Mike McCarthy was being honest when he said he was comfortable with Vernand Morency as a starter because the Packers waited until the end of the second round to get a running back. The Nebraska back is not the biggest back at only 210 pounds but he brings in good vision and the ability to break a long run with his 4.43 speed. Jackson is an aggressive inside runner who can pick his way in traffic. He's considered to be more of a project because he only had one year of heavy use in college but showed decent ability catching the ball last year. 2007 Expectation: Definite training camp watch because I, unlike McCarthy, would not be comfortable with Morency as a starter. There could be opportunity here.
Tony Hunt (3.27 PHI) - Hunt is a good back though not great in any particular area. At 6'0 and 230 pounds, he has good straight line power and his 4.53 speed means Brian Westbrook is plenty safe. 2007 Expectation: Likely none, though he could end up challenging Correll Buckhalter for the support role for Westbrook.
Michael Bush (4.01 OAK) - The Louisville back was considered a likely future first rounder until he broke his leg in the first game last year. His leg required a rod to heal and he still is not completely recovered. He was a dynamic force at tailback when healthy though. 2007 Expectation - None. He may even end up IR'd for the season which would likely serve him well but for those in dynasty leagues that can sit on a player for a year, he could be a bargain for both you and Oakland when 2008 rolls around.
Calvin Johnson (1.02 DET) - This year's freak player, Johnson has an almost unheard of combination of size (6-4, 237) and speed (4.39/40) and flypaper hands. And a tremendous ability to leap and catch. And he is hard to bring down. And he runs well after the catch. And he is a hard worker and good team mate. And he is in the Martz-led offense in Detroit. 2007 Expectation: He certainly has expectations to be sure and ones that no doubt will propel him in fantasy drafts far ahead of his rookie production. Roy Williams will be the #1 and yet Johnson is so hyped by now that he may still be double covered if he shows up well in games. This is a great spot for him to land but as a rookie he will have to get past Mike Furrey. He will produce this year but it will be hard to match the numbers dreamed by the fantasy drafter who takes him.
Ted Ginn Jr. (1.09 MIA) - The Ohio State speedster was a game changer in college and is a multiple threat since he also is a great special teams returner. At only 179 pounds, he will need to learn how to defeat line jams as a receiver but once he is in the clear, he'll leave defenders in his wake. He is still recovering from a foot injury that by his own admission is only "85% healed". 2007 Expectation: Ginn - as long as he is completely healthy - should end up the returner to be certain and should have a good impact in that capacity. As a receiver, he may have some success this year if Trent Green comes to Miami but in the best case scenario he'll likely catch some long balls that will make highlights and then disappear in other games. In the best case.
Dwayne Bowe (1.23 KC) - This LSU standout brings all the tools to succeed in the NFL but unfortunately is heading to a team that likes to run the ball as much as possible and with Trent Green likely to leave. That means Bowe cuts his teeth while Damon Huard or even Brodie Croyle is taking the starting role as quarterback.. Too bad he didn't come around when it was still Green and Vermeil. 2007 Expectations: Like limited though he will get a chance to become a starter. Even that didn't mean much for wideouts in KC last year.
Robert Meacham (1.27 NO) - The Tennessee wideout was considered one of the best receivers in college last year and brings nice size (6'3", 211 lbs.) and speed (4.40) along with all the natural ability and hands to make a very good NFL wideout. And he lands in New Orleans where Drew Brees is waiting for the next rookie to turn into a star. With Joe Horn gone, the door is open and Meacham looks like a very good fit in a very good offense. 2007 Expectation: Obviously the 7th rounder Marques Colston excelled last year in this offense but that would be optimistic to expect Meacham to repeat. Still, he should end up with playing time this season and if he looks good in training camp, he could end up the #2 there early in the season.
Craig Davis (1.30 SD) - The LSU product played as the #2 along with Dwayne Bowe and that is a role that most consider him likely to fill in the NFL. He is good in all facets of the game and yet not really great in any. With LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates already well entrenched, no wideout in San Diego is likely to have a major fantasy impact. 2007 Expectation: Likely limited with Vincent Jackson already considered the best wideout in SD. Davis will work towards being the #2 in SD but that could take a year and in any case, may not mean much production.
Anthony Gonzalez (1.32 IND) - This Ohio State product played along with Ted Ginn Jr. and while Ginn was streaking all over the field, Gonzalez was simply running superb routes and was always there when the Buckeyes needed him. The good news is that he goes to the Colts where Peyton Manning is a boon to any wideout's career. The bad news is that last year Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne had almost all the passes and the #3 position was largely worthless regardless who was filling it. 2007 Expectation: Very limited and may not play much at all. But with Harrison aging, the future could be bright here as early as 2008.
Greg Olsen (1.31 CHI) - One of the vaunted Miami tight ends that comes into the league without much ability to be a blocker but with a 4.55 speed to match with his 6'5, 255 pound frame. Olsen is a receiving tight end - not a blocker. He is fast for the position and has great hands. 2007 Expectation: Hard to get excited about a rookie tight end with Grossman throwing to him, but he is clearly the most gifted receiving rookie tight end. He'll get some playing time this year and get better in 2008 after he has proven to be better than Desmond Clark.