As teams prepare for the NFL draft this week, it is worth looking back to see who lived up to the hype five years ago. JaMarcus Russell, Calvin Johnson and Adrian Peterson were part of one of the NFL's most roller-coaster drafts in recent history. Some teams got it right (Lions) and some teams got it wrong (Raiders). What were some of the top NFL Draft minds saying about some about the top prospects at the time? Here are a review of the top seven in '07.
Mel Kiper, ESPN: "JaMarcus Russell is going to immediately energize that fanbase, that football team -- on the practice field, in that locker room. Three years from now you could be looking at a guy that's certainly one of the elite top five quarterbacks in this league. ...You're talking about a 2-3 year period once he's under center. Look out because the skill level that he has is certainly John Elway-like."
Todd McShay, ESPN: "I can't remember being in such awe of a quarterback in my decade of attending combines and pro days. Russell's passing session was the most impressive of all the pro days I've been to. His footwork for such a big quarterback was surprising. He was nimble in his dropbacks, rolling out and throwing on the run. The ball just explodes out of his hands."
Phil Savage, Browns GM at the time: "It's a little bit out of the norm to take somebody 6-5 plus, 250 pounds plus and can throw the ball around like he can. He is coming out as a junior, which leads you to think there's upside to him. "
Gary Kubiak, Texans coach: "I've never seen a kid that big who can sit there and just have people hanging on him and make the throws he can make. He reminds me a little bit of Daunte Culpepper, but a little bigger. I'm sure he's going to continue to be a great player."
Mike Mayock, NFL Network: "The only thing that’s going to keep [Russell] from being great is him. What it comes down to is you’ve got to figure out whether or not this kid wants to be the best quarterback in football.”
Lane Kiffin, Raiders coach at the time: "He's like a video game. There's not a throw he can't make and there's some he can make I'm not sure anyone else can make. That's exciting. But how many times does that happen in a game, making those long throws. Maybe twice in 16 games. I know seeing someone do that is a scout's dream, but it doesn't happen much."
** Russell lasted three seasons with a passer rating of 65.2. The Ryan Leaf comparisons are more common than those to Elway now.
McShay, on Johnson being instructed by advisers not to run a 40 at the combine but doing it anyway: "Johnson simply borrowed a pair of shoes from East Carolina QB James Pickney. At 6-foot-5, 239 pounds and in foreign footwear, Johnson ran the third-best time of all the wide receivers with a 4.35. Having made his statement to scouts and coaches from all 32 teams, Johnson elected to throw on his sweatshirt and call it a day after all the 40s in his group were run.”
John Clayton, ESPN: "If Randy Moss is called The Freak, Johnson should be called Super Freak. Surprise filled the media room at the Indianapolis scouting combine Friday when Johnson revealed that he recorded 239 pounds at his combine weigh-in, about 12 pounds more than anyone expected. Minds flashed to Mike Williams' failures with the Lions.”
Kiper: "He's not only a tremendous athlete, but he's a hard worker and very team oriented."
** Talk about being team-oriented…was anyone talking about the Lions going to the playoffs five years ago?
Todd McShay, after the combine: "At 6-foot-6 and 311 pounds, Thomas showcased his speed by running both 40-yard dash attempts in under five seconds (4.92 and 4.95). Thomas locked out 28 reps on the 225-pound bench press, while also finishing with the second-best broad jump and vertical jump of all the offensive linemen in attendance. It's safe to say Thomas erased any doubt regarding his projection as a top-three overall pick in the 2007 draft."
Kiper: "Huge, quick and athletic with a long wingspan."
** Thomas has earned five Pro Bowl selections with the Browns.
Adams was a late riser, whom many analysts respected but did not think was top-five quality.
Kiper, on having Adams ranked as the ninth-best player available: "Flashes dominating ability with his athleticism and quickness. Adams led the Tigers with 10½ sacks and 15½ tackles for loss."
McShay, on Adams' combine performance: "At 6-foot-5, 258 pounds, Adams ran the fastest 40-yard dash time of the defensive linemen (4.64 seconds)/ He also finished near the top of the class in the vertical jump (35 inches) and broad jump (9 feet, 11 inches). In doing so, Adams erased any doubts about whether he is worth a top-10 pick. He also distanced himself from No. 2 DE Jamaal Anderson (Arkansas), who did not participate in any portion of the workout."
** Adams made the All-Rookie team and played three NFL seasons with the Buccaneers and Bears before dying of cardiac arrest.
Frank Cooney, NFLDraftScout.com: “He is strong and agile but must stay in shape to maximize his potential. Brown has shown obvious ability since his freshman year, but his senior season was impacted by torn cartilage and resulting conditioning issues.”
Clayton: "Brown isn't considered a dominator. He's a perfectionist. He can dominate with technique and skill."
Brown on Brown: I'm a great athlete," he said at the combine. "I love to play the game. I have the ability to dominate anybody. I do plan on making it to a lot of Pro Bowls in my career."
** Brown is yet to make a Pro Bowl, but has started 75 regular-season games for the Cardinals.
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN, on comparisons to brother Dawan Landry: "Scouts rate LaRon Landry much higher than they did his brother a year ago, and he clearly has superior, all-around physical skills. At 6-foot, 213 pounds, and with projected speed in the mid-4.5s, Landry could be one of the top two or three defenders, at any position, to go off the board on draft day. The player to whom he most likens himself, with apologies to his brother, is Ronnie Lott, and he is an explosive hitter in the mold of the Hall of Fame safety."
Mayock: "One of my favorite players in the entire draft is LaRon Landry. There’s a trend in the NFL now trying to draft more athletic safeties because they have to play deep-half coverages, have to play man-to-man and have to get up in the box and be physical."
Kiper: "He should be a Pro Bowl-caliber player. He'll be better than Roy Williams, no question, but his ball skills downfield are not necessarily what you would want them to be."
Landry on Landry: "I'm a complete safety. I'm fast and physical. I communicate well. I'm able to read offenses. I can play the middle of the field. I can play man to man. I have great technique. I can play down in the box. I can take on pulling guards."
** Landry has been a two-time Pro Bowl alternate for the Redskins and one of the most reliable players from this draft.
As a freshman at Oklahoma, he established himself as one of the top first-year running backs of all time with 1,925 yards on 339 carries. His sophomore season was plagued with injuries, but A.D. fought back to start his junior season strong. Another injury kept him out for most of his junior season and his draft stock dropped. Despite all of his health issues, Peterson opted to forgo his senior season and test the draft.
McShay: "Peterson turned in one of the finest all-around workouts of any player at the combine thus far. The injury-prone Peterson proved to be in tremendous physical condition by notching the second-fastest 40-yard dash time (4.38), the second-highest vertical jump (38½ inches) and the second-longest broad jump (10 feet, 7 inches) of his running back group. Needless to say, rumors continue to swirl of the Browns' interest in Peterson with the No. 3 overall selection."
Scout.com: "Has a thick, defined chest, shoulders and arms, a tight waist, good bubble, thick thighs and calves with room on his frame to add more bulk...Possesses impressive strength, outstanding balance and quickness with that uncanny vision and awareness to quickly find the holes...Has the hip snap to easily change direction and shift gears, generating a sudden burst out of his cuts...His feet and body control enable him to pick his way through trash, and he keeps his feet after contact..."
Kiper: "The most talented running back in the draft with an excellent burst to the outside for his size. The concern with Peterson is his durability."
** Peterson missed just three games in his first four seasons before a torn ACL and MCL sidelined him late in 2011.
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