Every year, the draft class is tantamount to a first date.
Your friends and fans have their opinions. Some turn out to be heart-breakers. Others turn out to be long-term "for life" relationships. Most fade in the memory when someone new comes along.
But when you look back on your little black book of short-term infatuations, the majority fade from memory.
2007 wasn't one of those drafts. The axiom around the NFL is that it takes three years to properly assess a draft. After seven years, the warranty has long since expired. You're talking guys who are not only in their second contract, but, in many cases, their third or more. The attrition rate comes fast and the names blur into obscurity.
Not the hallowed Class of 2007
There were a lot of weddings in '07. They didn't all last with the same spouse, but it can be argued no draft had more Hall of Fame-style talent than the Class of 2007.
It started with a bust – LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell, whose penchant for Jolly Rancher-flavored drinks made him one of the most expensive franchise due-diligence mistakes in NFL history – much less from the same people who brought you Todd Marinovich.
But, of all teams, the Detroit Lions started setting the tone for the draft by taking Calvin Johnson. Fourth time was the charm for Detroit taking wide receivers early.
It wouldn't stop there. Offensive tackle Joe Thomas has gone to the Pro Bowl every year of his NFL career. Considering the politics of Pro Bowl nominations, much less playing for a ratty franchise like Cleveland, you can start cutting his bust for Canton with a finish date of his first year of eligibility. That's a résumé requiring a unanimous vote.
Adrian Peterson went at No. 7. One can only imagine what Tampa Bay, Arizona or Washington would have done with A.P. But, they passed.
With the 11th pick, San Francisco took Patrick Willis, who, ironically like Thomas, has made the Pro Bowl every year of his seven-year career. Canton? Same request. Start melting the bronze.
At No. 12, Buffalo drafted Marshawn Lynch. The ring he earned earlier this year has made him a candidate for Hall of Fame enshrinement because, when the era is discussed, Peterson will steal the thunder, but Beast Mode will be Lynch's ticket to the Hall.
Two picks later, another guy with a catchy nickname – which is only catchy when it's backed up – was selected when the Jets took cornerback Darrelle Revis. As we all know, while his games were played in New Jersey, he represented fans living on Revis Island. Five times to the Pro Bowl in the last six years sounds like the foundries of Ohio will be kept busy.
Midway through the first round of the 2007 draft, there are six players who are going to Canton – with all but Lynch likely locked up on their first year of eligibility.
Even the lesser players from the 2007 draft are not only still playing entering their eighth season, but thriving. Dwayne Bowe (No. 23, Kansas City) is being paid elite money. Jon Beason (No. 25, Carolina) went to three straight Pro Bowls. Joe Staley (No. 28, San Francisco) has gone to the last three Pro Bowls and is earning his way into eventual Hall of Fame consideration.
The talent goes beyond the first round. Eric Weddle (No. 37, San Diego) is as dominant a safety as there is in the NFL, earning Pro Bowl honors two of the last three years. Center Ryan Kalil , the brother of Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil (No. 59, Carolina), has been the NFC Pro Bowl center four of the last five years. Add one or two more, start melting more metal.
Throw in – in order of selection – LaRon Landry, Ted Ginn, Adam Carriker, Lawrence Timmons, Leon Hall, Michael Griffin, Aaron Ross, Reggie Nelson, Brandon Meriweather, Anthony Spencer, Robert Meachem, Ben Grubbs, Greg Olsen, Paul Posluszny, Kevin Kolb, Zach Miller, Sidney Rice, LaMarr Woodley, Marshal Yanda, Michael Bush, Brian Robison, Paul Solai, Zac DeOssie, Jermon Bushrod, Dashon Goldson, Nick Folk and Mason Crosby.
Say what you want about the deep draft class of 2014, but when you look back historically – well beyond the three-year draft warranty – it's hard to argue that the 2007 draft will be viewed by modern-era historians as arguably the greatest draft of its era, if not all time.
The artisans in charge of casting the busts that go into the Hall of Fame have a daunting task in front of them – creating a living inanimate image that represents a human being that will last long beyond his lifetime.
Whoever is in charge of that unique occupation should be forewarned. Hope that the elite of the Class of 2007 doesn't opt to retire at the same time. It may be the first modern-era class to dominate one class.
They're that good.
There are hopes of a similar harvest of talent will be enjoyed seven years later.
It's been that way ever since 2007. This year will surpass last year. It may take 10 more years, but, from its Purple Drank beginnings, the lore of the 2007 draft will only get more Paul Bunyan-esque as it gets farther into the rearview mirror.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Cream of the draft-class crops: 2007
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