This is my second installment of my series “The 2007 Draft at ten” where I review the first round selections of what ended up being a pretty interesting draft class. This installment featuring picks 9 through 16 has a mix that covers every spectrum of an NFL career from being shortened by injuries, to potential hall of fame careers. If you missed the recap for picks 1-8, that can be found here.
9. Miami Dolphins: Ted Ginn, WR Ohio State: Due to their desire for Brady Quinn, this pick was highly criticized by Dolphins fans and even many analysts at the time. While it’s out of his control where he was selected, Ginn has been what many expected out of college which was offer big play ability.
Through the first ten years of his career, Ginn has seven career return touchdowns and has continued to serve as a deep threat for his quarterbacks. His best work came in 2015 while with the Panthers as he racked up 752 yards on a career high 16.8 yards a catch and 10 touchdowns in Cam Newton’s MVP season. Ginn once again had a decent year in 2016 with the Panthers hauling in 54 passes for 752 yards and four touchdowns. He should once again be a presence in the Panthers passing game in 2017.
10. Houston Texans: Amobi Okoye, DT Louisville: The main thing many remember about Okoye was simply how young he was throughout the draft process. Playing his first game at Louisville as a 16 year old freshman, Okoye spent all four years in college and still was drafted as a teenager. He is the youngest player ever selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Okoye played four seasons with the Texans and recorded 11 sacks in that span. The following two years, Okoye was a rotational player for the Bears and was later signed by the Cowboys until a medical condition emerged causing him to miss the 2013 season. Okoye was diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis which is a rare autoimmune disease that can be life threatening. It was reported that in 2013, Okoye spent three months in a medically induced coma and had to relearn basic functions such as eating, speaking and walking.
Still only 29 at the time of this writing, Okoye is trying to make a comeback as he is currently signed with the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders.
11. San Francisco 49ers: Patrick Willis, LB Mississippi: After a four year college career that produced plenty of accolades, Willis was considered by many as a sure thing at the NFL level. He ended up being that and then some. Right away it was apparent that Willis was a very special player as he racked up over 170 total tackles and four sacks as a rookie to go on and win defensive rookie of the year.
While the 49ers struggled the first few years of Willis’ career, he was their defensive centerpiece during the team’s impressive three year run between 2011-2013 under then head coach Jim Harbaugh. In 2014, Willis was limited to just six games in part due to a nagging toe injury. Those ended up being the last games of his career as Willis surprisingly retired in early 2015.
Despite only playing for eight years, Willis certainly has the candidacy to be Hall of Fame bound at some point. We’ve seen that longevity isn’t always a difference maker, and in those eight years Willis was a seven time Pro Bowler (the only year he didn’t make it was 2014) and a five time first team All-Pro (which includes his rookie year). Now 32 years old, Willis recently said in an interview that he would not be considering the thought of a comeback.
12. Buffalo Bills: Marshawn Lynch, RB California: While Adrian Peterson was considered a once a decade type running back prospect, Lynch would have been the first back off the board in most drafts. Lynch spent the first four years of his career in Buffalo and started off well with two consecutive 1,000 yard seasons and even was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2008. However, he was suspended the first few games of 2009 due to a misdemeanor weapons charge which led to Fred Jackson emerging as a productive back in his own right.
By 2010, the Bills backfield was very crowded as they drafted the highly touted C.J. Spiller and Jackson had already shown what he could do. Despite starting three of the first four games that season, the Bills traded him to the Seahawks for draft picks. It is there where the man known as “Beast Mode” finally emerged.
While his early time in Seattle got off to a rough start averaging just 3.5 yards a carry in 2010, things changed in the wildcard round against the Saints that season. It was then Lynch rattled off his most iconic run known to many as the “Beast Quake” and from there it seemed everything clicked. The next four seasons, Lynch ran for over 5,300 yards with 48 rushing touchdowns and an additional eight through the air. He was named a Pro Bowler in all four of those seasons and a first team all pro in 2012. Lynch played in seven games during the 2015 season before needing sports hernia surgery. He came back for the Seahawks loss in the divisional round to the Panthers in what we would later find out was his final game.’
During Super Bowl 50, Lynch announced his retirement by simply tweeting out a photo of his cleats hanging from a phone wire. It was a fitting way to go out for a player who was of few words to the media, but is one of the more colorful personalities we’ve seen in football. With a fantastic peak, and a Super Bowl ring to boot, Lynch is another player who will be very interesting discussion when his time emerges to be discussed for the Hall of Fame. At the very least, he will remain a cult hero amongst football fans across the world for quite some time.
13. St. Louis Rams: Adam Carriker, DE Nebraska: When analysts say that someone is the best defensive end to come out of Nebraska since 2000, even after the fact it is saying something. That’s exactly what many who covered the Huskers program said about Carriker. In need of some pass rush help, the Rams chose him here but traded him to the Redskins after just two seasons.
Carriker was a starter for the Redskins during his time there and recorded seven sacks in his first two seasons with the franchise. Unfortunately, from that point injuries shortened Carriker’s career. His 2012 season came to a close after two games when he was placed on injured reserve. Knee injuries continued to plague him until his eventual release from the Redskins in 2014. After an eight year career, Carriker now posts videos weekly called “Carriker Chronicles” where discusses topics such as Nebraska football, and has also made appearances on Fox news and Fox business in the past.
14. New York Jets: Darrelle Revis, CB Pittsburgh: By the end of his rookie year, it was apparent the Jets really had something in Revis and he certainly lived up to that. From 2008 through 2011, there were very few inhabitants on what came to be known as “Revis Island”. In that time, Revis made four Pro Bowls and was named first team all-pro three times. His 2012 season was cut short as he tore his ACL which brought an end to his first tenure with the Jets.
Leading up to the 2013 draft, Revis was traded to the Buccaneers where he signed what was then one of the biggest contracts in league history. A change in defensive scheme and failed attempts at a trade led to Revis’ release where he was picked up shortly thereafter by the Patriots on a one year deal. That year couldn’t of gone better for Revis or the Patriots as not only did they win a title, but Revis had yet another All-Pro season.
Now having won a Super Bowl ring, Revis resigned with the Jets for five years in 2015. While he once again played at a high level in 2015, by his standards 2016 was a subpar by Revis’ high standards. As a result, there were already whispers of the Jets possibly experimenting with him at safety. Unfortunately, Revis has been in the news for the wrong reasons as he was recently charged with four felonies in a recent altercation in Pittsburgh, two of which were for aggravated assault. That led to Revis’ eventual release with the team and it’s uncertain if he will play in 2017. With 7 Pro Bowl appearances, four first team all-pro nods and serving as the preeminent corner of his era, it wouldn’t be surprising if Revis makes his way into Canton as a Hall of Famer when it’s all said and done.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Lawrence Timmons, LB Florida State: Timmons hasn’t been a very flashy player, but there is something to be said about someone who hasn’t missed a game since 2009, and has started every game in that span. Since he entered the league, Timmons has been a consistent cog of the Steelers defense and for an inside linebacker has provided some very valuable pass rushing with 35.5 career sacks.
During his time with the Steelers, Timmons won a Super Bowl in 2008, and made the Pro Bowl in 2014. Set to hit free agency this offseason, it is uncertain if he has played his final game as a member of the Steelers.
16. Green Bay Packers: Justin Harrell, DT Tennessee: To this point, the 2007 draft class hasn’t had much in terms of players who had their careers derailed by injuries. Unfortunately, Harrell fits that category. Despite being with the Packers for four seasons, Harrell was only able to play in 14 of a possible 64 games. Chronic back issues forced him to miss large chunks of time throughout his career needing multiple surgeries and having to miss the entire 2009 season as a result.
While he was able to make it back for the 2010 season, Harrell’s season ended in week one as he tore his ACL. That was the last game he played in the NFL as the Packers released him in 2011. Harrell is an example of how in a nutshell, we don’t always understand the everyday beating NFL players take and how it could not only limit their careers, but injuries such as chronic back issues could potentially impact their life after football.