2007 NFL Draft Gets a Boost as Underclassmen Deadline Passes

One of the bigger days on mine and other draft gurus calendar past this week as the 2007 NFL Draft underclassmen deadline was on Monday, January 15, 2007.  This deadline is important because every year the upper echelon of the draft is boosted by talented underclassmen. The deadline is for players 3 years out of high school, usually college redshirt sophomores and juniors. Remember there have been rare cases of players like former Cardinals defensive tackle Eric Swann (6th overall pick in the 1991 NFL Draft) who have no college experience, but who are just coming of draft age.  This year’s group features several high level underclassmen that surely will have an impact.  Some of the bigger players I have listed below.  A complete list can be found at our friend site Great Blue North at http://www.gbnreport.com/juniors.htm and we will have much more at BIGPLAY including draft podcasts and blogs.

o LSU QB JaMarcus Russell – With the Raiders owning the first overall pick and their affinity for big down the field passers, Russell may fit the bill.  He has the size (6’6, 250) and arm (can throw 80 yards) to bring the Raiders back.  Russell was the nation’s No. 3-ranked quarterback in passing efficiency this season while setting a school record for completion percentage at 67.8 percent and for completions with 232 out of 342 attempts and tying the record for touchdown passes at 28. Russell became only the second quarterback in LSU history to throw for 3,000 yards with 3,129 and finished his LSU career with 6,525 yards and 52 touchdowns in three seasons — two as a full-time starter. He clearly out played Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn throwing for a career-high 332 yards and two touchdowns in the Tigers’ 41-14 victory over Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl.  Reminds me of Redskins Super MVP QB Doug Williams.

o Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson – The 2007 Biletnikoff Award winner as the best receiver. This junior may be the most exciting and complete receiver to hit the NFL since Randy Moss in 1998. NFL personnel evaluators are drooling over his size (6-5, 200), speed, and athletic ability. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds and has a 45-inch vertical leap.   Impressed me throughout the 2006 college football season despite facing constant double-teams and playing with an erratic quarterback (Reggie Ball).  Johnson caught 76 passes for 1,202 yards and 15 touchdowns this past season and had his best game in the Gator Bowl versus West Virginia narrowly losing 38-35.  In the game he caught nine passes for a career-high 186 yards and two touchdowns.

o Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson: Considered a high first-round draft pick. Peterson a junior, missed seven games this season with a broken collarbone, but still finished with 1,012 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns. He ran for 77 yards and two touchdowns, including a 25-yarder on the first play of overtime, in Oklahoma’s 43-42 overtime loss to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1st.  Peterson ran for 4,045 yards in three seasons, ranking behind only 1978 Heisman winner Billy Sims (4,118) and Hall of Famer Joe Washington (4,071) on Oklahoma’s career rushing list. His 1,925 yards in 2004 were a school rushing record and the most by a freshman in NCAA history.

o Ohio State WR/DB/KR Ted Ginn Jr: A former nationally ranked track star, there isn’t a more explosive player in the draft. He could be this year’s Devon Hester (Raw, but Explosive Homerun Threat).  Look for the 6 foot, 190 lbs Junior to help out on special teams immediately while learning the WR position.  He is a threat to take it to the house combining quickness, speed, and acceleration. Began his Ohio St. career as a cornerback, but was switched to receiver just before his freshman season, because of his big play potential. This season he caught 59 passes for 781 yards and nine touchdowns and as a returner averaged 11.1 per punt return, with one touchdown.

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