Friday, April 27, 2007

Tale of two quarterbacks; the 2007 NFL Draft

LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell is widely expected to cap a meteoric offseason rise by being selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders on Saturday.

Despite revisionist football observers saying Russell was always on the NFL's radar, the 6-foot-6, 265-pound playmaker didn't vault to the top of most draft boards until his dominating performance in the Sugar Bowl, against high profile Notre Dame.

The athletic Russell threw for 332 yards and a pair of touchdowns in LSU's easy 41-14 win over the Irish. That performance helped him leapfrog Notre Dame's own quarterback, Brady Quinn, and a plethora of other talented players who had more consistent and accomplished college careers.

The Raiders are expected to take Russell despite the presence of Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson. The 6-foot-5, 239-pound Johnson is regarded by most as one "can't miss" prospect in this year's draft, but the importance of the quarterback position seems to be trumping Johnson's scary skills in the Bay Area.

Russell, Quinn and Johnson join Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson, Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas, Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams and Russell's teammate with the Tigers, safety LaRon Landry, at the top of most draft boards.

The Detroit Lions and much-maligned general manager Matt Millen are in the second slot and are considered to be a wild card in the process. The franchise seems enamored with Adams, but may trade out of the slot for more value.

The Cleveland Browns are weighing Quinn and Peterson with the No. 3 pick while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers look like they will lock in to Johnson with the fourth choice. The Arizona Cardinals round out the top five and may snag Thomas to help protect its first round pick from a year ago, Matt Leinart.

The Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans finish out the top 10.

The 2007 NFL Draft kicks off at noon (et) from New York City's famed Radio City Music Hall.

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