2007 NFL Draft Bargains
by Trevor Whenham - 02/08/2007
It's sometimes easy to forget that the NFL Draft lasts longer than one round, and that very valuable and effective players can come beyond the first 15 picks. We get so caught up in figuring out who is going to go first overall, or how many quarterbacks will go in the first round, that we forget to look for the gems that lie deeper in the draft. Here's a look at 10 players that won't hear there name called in the first couple of hours of the draft, but which you might want to get familiar with because they could factor into your handicapping in years to come.
Kevin Kolb, quarterback, Houston - Behind the top two quarterbacks this is a fairly weak class at that position. Kolb is viewed by many as the third best signal caller available. He had an excellent week at the Senior Bowl, and there is a possibility he could slip into the first round. He's big enough to be a pro quarterback, he has all of the experience in the world after 45 college starts and he is remarkably accurate - 30 touchdowns and just four interceptions. The biggest strike against him is that he hasn't seen a lot of top competition while toiling in Conference USA.
Tyler Palko, quarterback, Pittsburgh - Palko isn't as highly regarded as some quarterbacks, but he has some things going for him that elevates him above others in my eyes. He had a fairly solid year this year, even if his team didn't. He's built for the NFL. Most importantly, he's been coached by Dave Wannstedt, so he's been prepared for the NFL. He may never be a full time starter, but a guy like Matt Schaub has shown how valuable a good young backup can be.
Brian Leonard, running back, Rutgers - Leonard didn't get the glory at Rutgers this year - that was reserved for Ray Rice. He had better numbers earlier in his career, and showed that he clearly has the talent for the next level. Last year he was primarily a blocking back, and he was a huge contributor to the unlikely success of the team. He is fast, he has good hands, he runs well, and he's reportedly a very good guy. Some team will be very lucky to have him.
Eric Weddle, safety, Utah - Weddle is a ball magnet. He had six interceptions last season. More importantly, he returned two of those picks for touchdowns. If you can imagine, both of those touchdowns actually came in the same game. He also added a rushing touchdown on offense in that game to cap the performance and earn the National Player of the Week honors. Safety is a cool position again in the NFL, and this Urban Meyer recruit has a shot at being a good one.
Jonathan Wade, cornerback, Tennessee - Wade came to Tennessee with huge promise, but it took him a while to realize his potential. He really found his stride in the second half of his senior season. The NFL devours cornerbacks, and Wade will fit right in. His biggest attribute is his freakish speed - he is a four time all-American for track, with a career best time at 100 meters of 10.21 seconds. That speed will earn him a spot on Sundays.
Greg Olsen, tight end, Miami - Olsen may slip into the first round, but only because of the absence of talent at the tight end position this year. Olsen is probably the best one out there, even though he didn't put up stellar numbers in college. He's a big, tall guy who should be able to put up some very impressive numbers at the Combine. The NFL's love affair with the tight end is fading a little bit, but Olsen has the tools to contribute.
Paul Posluszny, linebacker, Penn State - It's a sign of how bizarre the draft process can be that Posluszny isn't considered a guaranteed top ten pick. He won the Bednarik Award as National Defensive Player of the Year in 2005 at outside linebacker, injured his knee at the Orange Bowl, had to move over to middle linebacker this season, and still repeated as Bednarik winner. He's a natural leader, and he will be a star for whatever team drafts him.
Michael Bush, running back, Louisville - Bush is obviously not a surprise to anyone, but he'll fall much further than he would have after missing most of last season with a broken leg. In 2005, though, he showed just how good he can be, with 23 touchdowns, and 5.4 yards per carry. Provided he performs well at the Combine, teams could view the year off as a positive because it means his body is less abused. Bush is massive and strong, and he'll do well on Sunday.
LaMarr Woodley, defensive end, Michigan - Woodley falls into a bit of a twilight zone - he's a very talented college rushing end who is too small to play the position in the pros. He'll probably end up as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, and he could be deadly rushing the passer from that position. He's very fast for his size, and he has the technique and the eyes to dispense of players who try to get between him and the quarterback. He'll go later in the first round or early in the second, and he could be looked back on as one of the true bargains of the draft.
Tony Ugoh, left tackle, Arkansas - Joe Thomas of Wisconsin is the star of this position, and one of the top stars of this draft, and Levi Brown of Penn State will likely go higher, too, but I'd be willing to bet that Ugoh will earn his way to multiple Pro Bowls before he retires. Left tackle is such a crucial position, and Ugoh played it very well this year, contributing significantly to the surprising success of his team. He'll need some work, especially on the pass block, but he has the skills to improve and he could block the run on Sundays for pretty much any team right now.