The NFL Draft is an incredible combination of hype and groupthink. You listen to seven “experts” repeat the same thing over and over again, you start to believe that it is your own opinion. Often “experts” repeating the same talking points received their opinion from someone else. Who probably works for a player’s agent.

I don’t know what the Oakland Raiders are going to do at the top of the 2007 NFL Draft. But I watch a lot of college football. What I do know is that JaMarcus Russell, for all his supposedly inhuman gifts, is not much of a football player. He just isn’t. LSU is one of those schools that (at least during Russell’s nearly three years as a starter) has done enough to be very good. But at LSU, Russell went through periods on the field where he just seemed … sort of uninterested. Or maybe that’s the wrong word. Maybe “bad” is the word I’m looking for. I mean, isn’t LSU the team that struggled to score points against Auburn, Florida and Mississippi last year? Didn’t they have one of the most fearsome defenses in the nation, but an offense that couldn’t get out of their way fairly regularly? And this notion that Russell has a lot of precision on his powerful right arm isn’t entirely true. He was amazing in the Sugar Bowl, I’ll grant you, but Notre Dame’s defense was pathetic in 2006.

Calvin Johnson, on the other hand, is amazing. I also watched a bunch of Georgia Tech games last year and came away thinking, “Wow, Johnson is a great player.” And also: “Wow, Reggie Ball is not very good.” I mean, Johnson caught 15 touchdowns and 76 passes for 1,202 yards from a guy who never posted a QB rating higher than 66.8 in his four-year career at Georgia Tech. Believe your eyes. Johnson was undetectable at the NCAA level, and defenses will have to plan to keep two men close to him the moment he steps onto an NFL field. Will he score every time he touches the ball? No. But whoever drafts Johnson will immediately have a better running game, because safeties will be instructed to go Johnson’s way, and a better receiving corps, because Johnson will draw double teams.

I know Oakland needs a quarterback. I know they have (a malcontent) Randy Moss. But they should believe their eyes. They should take Calvin Johnson away.

The NFL Draft is this weekend. What do you think are the biggest stories and which rookies will have the most immediate impact on their new teams?

BoDog Bookmakers, You can expect to see some trades this year that will shake up the top of the preliminary order. Many teams covet Calvin Johnson, and Detroit knows it. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on your take on the situation), the Lions have been loaded with wide receivers in recent drafts. Matt Millen will make Johnson the No. 2 pick and then consider trade offers for this future superstar. Meanwhile, it’s hard to say which rookie will have the biggest impact without really knowing which team he’ll end up on after the dust settles. If we look at the players who are most NFL-ready, it would have to be Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis, Calvin Johnson and Gaines Adams, in that order.

The Yankees may have gotten off to a slow start, but A-Rod certainly hasn’t. What are the odds that Alex Rodriguez will break the single-season home run record this year?

BDB, A-Rod has been phenomenal throughout his career. Unfortunately, he’s still about 60 home runs shy of that particular record, and he’s actually falling behind the ridiculous pace set by Barry Bonds in 2001. Would you believe Bonds had 14 in 14 games? Unless he gets hurt, Rodriguez will be very close to him, but once games start to mean a little more, pitchers will throw around him or just intentionally walk him to avoid swinging him altogether. At this point, he would put the line at 7/1.

Are the Miami Heat absolute toast in their playoff series against Chicago, down 2-0, or do you give them a legitimate chance to come back and win?

BDB, Dwyane Wade’s shoulder injury has slowed Flash down to merely deadly speed. His supporting cast has been abysmal, to say the least, and without additional help, the injured Wade won’t be able to repeat last year’s brilliance. We are looking at the results of the NBA rule change to give the team with the best home court record instead of the highest ranked team. If Miami can take two in a row at home and steal the next game in Chicago, they have a chance. But it is small.

One round away from the NHL playoffs, want to change your Stanley Cup predictions? Which teams have impressed you and who makes it to the final?

BDB, Buffalo is still the favorite in the East, but I have to say that Ottawa has been impressive. They’ve always had the firepower, but now Ray Emery is showing that he can withstand the pressure of the playoffs. This gives Ottawa its first reliable goal since 1999. Whichever team wins the San Jose-Detroit series should go by in the West. The Canucks and Ducks will be an entertaining series with all its subplots, but I don’t think either team has enough left to take down Wings or Sharks in the next round.