As all you NFL aficionados no doubt know, the NFL's 2007 Draft is tomorrow. Okay, okay, I know that none of you know or care about this! But I do!
I'm looking forward to seeing what the San Francisco 49ers do. The last season was a real turnaround for the 49ers: the offense looked good with Frank Gore running the ball very effectively and Alex Smith maturing as a quarterback. Vernon Davis, last year's first round pick, was injured for part of the year, but he has the promise to be a great tight-end. However, the defense was pathetic last year (though they showed some life toward the end of the season). Fortunately, the 49ers had a great off-season in terms of free-agent acquisitions, and have significantly strengthened their defense.
So what's it going to be this year? Most prognosticators have the 49ers taking a defensive player with the 11th pick (in the first round)---maybe a linebacker (Patrick Willis) or someone on the defensive line, either a tackle (Alan Branch) or an end (Adam Carriker). But if an offensive tackle like Levi Brown is still available at the 11th pick, then the 49ers will probably snap him up. Of course, the 49ers might indulge in a blockbuster trade to move up to the 2nd pick and grab Calvin Johnson, a wide receiver most people consider to be the absolutely best player in the draft. But in the absence of such things, a focus on the defense is clearly called for. It would also be nice to get a wide receiver, but it seems that other than Calvin Johnson, the rest of the receivers in the draft are likely not good enough to be the 11th pick. Of course, the 49ers have lots more picks: a total of 10 in the 6 rounds. Looking forward to seeing what they do.
And then there's the excitement of what the Oakland Raiders will do with the first pick. (Yes, the Raiders ended the 2006 season with the absolutely worst 2-14 record and got the rights to the first pick.) The most likely pick for the Raiders is quarterback Jamarcus Russell. Apparently he is a complete quarterback with all the skills you want. But there's some question about whether he is adequately driven to succeed at the highest level. Brady Quinn is the other highly rated quarterback, but he's likely to go further down. Finally, Al Davis might decide that he really doesn't want to take a quarterback with the first pick (he's rarely done so in the past, and the two times he's done it, it has led to flops), and will instead pick Calvin Johnson. Or they might trade the first pick for a boatload of picks to fill all the holes they currently have (this is an unlikely option, though). So lots of excitement on what the Raiders will do.